The Original Submariner
by Ed Delgado
The Rolex Submariner was introduced in the Basel Watch Fair in 1954. This was in part to the growing trend of SCUBA diving and the need to for a waterproof timing device at depths.
The 6204 was the watch that first became to be known as the “Submariner” and
originally displayed at the Basel Fair as the new SCUBA watch.
The design and specs have changed but the basic design remains true to the original watch. Yet, the 6204 was different from all other subs.
The case was an oyster case designed to withstand up to 180 meters or 600 feet of depth. The model was 6204 and above the model number “BREVET” was stamped, loosely translated to “patented”. The other lugs had the serial numbers corresponding to 1954 and “MODELE DEPOSE” below.
The dial was in gilt print with connected minute tracks. There are a few variations of the dial. Some with “Oyster Perpetual” with a space in the middle and “Submariner” below and others have print closer and the word omitted. While a third batch had the word “submariner” painted over in black. It can only be surmised that Rolex did not have the patent for the name yet or at that time did not know what the final model name was going to be.
The hands were stray without the well known “Mercedes” hands. The second hand had the luminous dot at the end of the hand.
The Bezel was bidirectional and only the 5 min marks are noted.
Typical for the time, it was almost bubbleback and the model number was stamped inside. The date code was not commonly added yet.
The movement was an A260 and it came on a 20mm riveted bracelet.
The watch pictured below is an exceptional example. After 52 years the dial
is beginning to show some wear but the case in absolutely incredible
condition. I guess that 52 yrs is long enough to wait for service intervals.
The original owner, trully a gentelman, purchased it directly from Rolex USA and the watch has remain in completely original condition. Never polished, serviced, opened ((until rescently) and as you can see rarely worn for SCUBA adventures.
Yes, the extra black paint on the dial is original to the watch and has
faded at a different rate than the rest of the dial appearing darker.
To make the story more interesting. I dropped the watch at my watchmaker for service. He asks me to wait and searches in his desk, while I await a little confused. He pulls out another vintage submariner..
My god! Another 6204!! and looking at the case numbers, only 54 cases away from each other!! What are the chance that 52 yrs later these two watches were united once again.
Unfortunately, the other watch had a different fait. The watch looked worn in comparison and the dial was redone. The hands are from the period and could have been originally fitted to the watch but its unlikely. The caseback is unmistakable, exactly the same...