Hi Doug: This was my father’s Rolex that has now been handed down to me. I’m trying to find out what it may be worth. I have asked some watch people and they become evasive on its value and offer me what I would consider a low price.
Dear Brian: I’m afraid the company’s either gone out of business or this brand is a real dud. I checked all of the shops at the mall, the big-box discount stores and several high-end jewelers, and the brand apparently isn’t even worth carrying.
I suppose this is why potential buyers remain so elusive and noncommittal. It also hurts that it’s not digital. In effect, you’ve narrowed the market to men who have knowledge of the lost art of hand-position translation. My suggestion is to trade it in for a name-brand timepiece — something more reliable.
Actually, the origin of the Rolex name can be traced to the early 20th century. Its inventor, a Swiss watchmaker named Hans Wilsdorf, envisioned a wristwatch that would be as accurate as any of the larger clocks of the day. Several honors were bestowed on his work beginning in 1910 when a Rolex became the first wristwatch in the world officially certified for chronometric accuracy, and then again in 1914 when it was given a class-A precision certificate, an honor previously bestowed on marine chronometers only. Since that time, the name Rolex has been synonymous with quality and precision timekeeping.
Your father’s watch is an Oyster Submariner Perpetual model No. 5513 that, according to its serial number, was manufactured in 1976. The Oyster line, first created in 1926, was the world’s first guaranteed waterproof and dustproof hermetically sealed watch.
Then, in 1931, the company revealed yet another historically significant attribute when it introduced the first self-winding movement with a perpetual motor.
The Submariner model is the most produced, most recognizable, most wearable and therefore the most sought-after Rolex there is. Unveiled in 1953, the Submariner has appeared in 11 James Bond movies, and your model 5513, which was made from 1962 through 1989, actually saved the life of Roger Moore in “Live and Let Die.” Exposure and endorsements of this nature have made it the most iconic of all Rolex watches.
Model 5513s of this vintage in good or better shape can sell for $4,500 to $6,000 or even higher. It helps to have the box it came in, the original paperwork and, obviously, the closer to mint condition the better.
Yours appears to be in very good shape, and I would expect you should get a $3,500 to $4,000 offer from an experienced dealer unless it requires unforeseen cosmetic work or service. The biggest problem is that there are no local dealers, and nobody will give you a firm offer without examining it first.
It’s difficult not to flout the deplorable offers you’ve gotten, but they may be the result of simple human nature: Buy low and sell high. On the other hand, your prospect also may lack the expertise, may question the ability to sell it in a soft market or may be hesitant because Rolex is so commonly counterfeited. Worse yet, without the paperwork, one might cringe at the thought of it being stolen property that could be confiscated.
By the way, Christie’s auctioned off Roger Moore’s specially adapted movie prop Rolex in 2001 for $41,992.
Contact Doug Smith with your collectibles questions by emailing him at DougsQCCollecting@hotmail.com or visiting his website, DougsQCCollectibles.com. Comment on this column at qctimes.com.