Having built their reputation on producing popular watches with top qualities, Fake Rolex started their relationship with the military in 1954, when they provided the British Royal Navy with around 50 examples of their model, or, the Bond Submariner.
The replica watch Sean Connery wore when he served Dr. No his just desserts, with its unguarded oversize crown, was sent unaltered to the Ministry of Defence who used it in the field for the next few years, eventually reporting back on its performance.
The first was a redesign of the bezel, with its existing coin style edging proving hard for Navy divers to turn while wearing gloves. And the second was the standard spring bars attaching the bracelet, a potentially disastrous point of weakness.
Rolex replica addressed both of the issues, soldering the bars to the lugs to accommodate the NATO strap, reworking the bezel to overhang the sides of the case and finishing it with the serrated edge that we know today to make it not so difficult to grip.
The resulting watch was christened the A/6538 and supplied only to the Royal Navy. These pieces, the first of what would become known as the Military Submariners, or Milsubs, were joined several years later by the updated model. Rolex had by this time taken the changes advocated by the MOD and incorporated them into the standard Submariner available to the general public, so the 5512 you could buy in the store was fitted with the new style of bezel. It also had, for the first time, guards protecting its now smaller crown.
The incredibly cheap prices Milsubs achieve on the pre-owned market have also led to another problem all too common with vintage Rolex—replicas. There are a sea of fakes in circulation, ready to prey on the unwary, so going into a sale armed with all the facts concerning the slew of small but important details of what the authentic article should and should not have is necessary. Wherever possible, only buy from dealers you know and trust and always be ready to walk away if something seems iffy.
There’s no doubt the Milsubs are at the very top of most Rolex collectors’ wish lists. Beyond the model’s provenance and the rarity value, each one comes complete with the kind of back-story that most of us can only dream of—and the sort that lends a commonplace design classic its own unique personality.