"¡Ay, caramba!" Where do I start? Lately we have been receiving a lot of vintage watches to stock up our new category the Vintage Corner. I guess you can say I have gotten the vintage bug, but in reality it's hard to capture what's important on a watch if you have no idea what you're looking at. So, my journey into the Rolex Submariner Reference 5512 Bi-color "meters first" gilt 4 lines "Bart Simpson" "Steve McQueen" begins. Candidly speaking, I don't know what to call this Rolex 5512 anymore other than the "King of Cool" (We will touch more on the nickname later).
The Rolex Submariner 5512
The Rolex 5512 is the staple of the Rolex Submariner we love today. Introduced in 1958 the 5512
was the First Rolex to feature a crown guard. There were four variations of the crown guard
starting with square, eagle beak, pointed and rounded. At the same time Rolex also introduced
the new 40mm case, increasing from the previous 38mm model. There were four calibers used in
production of the Submariner 5512 from 1959 to 1980. Starting with caliber 1530 (non-
chronometer), caliber 1560 (the start of COSC Rated calibers in the 5512), Caliber 1570 and
Caliber 1570 with Hacking seconds. The two differences between 5512 and 5513 other than
being produced in far less numbers, is the 5512 has a COSC (Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres)
rated caliber and the 5513 does not. Which brings use to our next topic...
The meters first 4 lines dial
When released, the 5512 dial displayed two lines of text in meters before
feet format (200m=660ft) (Submariner). Shortly after upgrading to the
COSC rated caliber and they added two more lines of text displaying
"Superlative Chronometer officially
(200m=660ft) (Submariner) (Superlative Chronometer) (Officially
certified). The meters first dial was only produced for 8 years between
1959-1967, from 1967-1980 the dials displayed feet before meters
(660ft=200m). Given the fewer years of production it's easy to see why
the "meters first" dial is highly sought after, but don't have a cow man, it
The rare "Bart Simpson" dial
Bart Simpson dials are very rare, but a 5512 with this particular dial is extremely rare. As almost
all Bart Simpson dials are a Rolex Ref 5513 (2 lines). What is a "Bart Simpson" dial you ask? It is
a dial that has a different coronet with stubbier crown points that resembles the top of Bart's head
. The "Bart Simpson" dial also features a different font layout, with the Rolex being a little more
off center to the left. Also the font has longer end stroke fonts and the slash through the "ft." in
(200m=660ft) are in a straight line and not off set like the Bi-Color dial. All "Bart Simpson dials are
a bi-color in a gold-ish and silver-ish color but not all bi-color dials are Bart Simpson. It is believed
the Bart Simpson dials were only produced in 1966. In my extensive research, I was only able to
find less than a handful of the true 5512 "Bart Simpson" dials.
"Bart Simpson" Vs "Bi-Color"
This particular "Bart Simpson" gilt dial is untouched, and shows beautiful aging. The hands on the
dial of this era were normally produced in steel and are proven to oxidation, for this reason the
hands were commonly replaced. Another feature that was commonly repaired is the tritium plots,
due to flaking and poor lumination. This "Bart Simpson" dial remains untouched and Tritium plots
aged to almost a ghost black, while the gold-ish color coronet and text has aged into what
resembles a gorgeous honey Onyx look. So to find an untouched 5512 with a Bart Simpson dial
is extremely rare!
**Disclaimer this image was enhanced to show consistency in the tritium plots. The image was taken in complete darkness after being charged with a UV light. The lumen was extremely fiat and dissipated in under 25 seconds**
Steve McQueen AKA "King of Cool"
When people speak of the "Steve McQueen" Rolex, the first model that comes to mind is the
Rolex 1655 Big Orange Hand GMT. But in fact till this day, there are no known images of Steve
McQueen ever wearing a Rolex ref 1655. There is plenty of the "King of cool" sporting a
Rolex 5512 on his right arm. Given that Steve McQueen wore a Rolex 5512 and this being an
untouched gilt "Bart Simpson" dial, we dubbed this 1967 Vintage Rolex Submariner 5512 the
"King of Cool"
Steve McQueen wearing a Rolex 5512
"King of Cool" Cool-O-Meter
Now that we know some of the factors in this Rolex Submariner Ref 5512 gilt meters first Bart
Simpson. Let's take a look at the Cool-O-Meter and see what went into play in order to have a
true Rolex Ref 5512 gilt meters first Bart Simpson. As you can see by the chart this timepiece was
right in the middle of a transition year and used parts mostly from previous configurations. Being
that this Rolex 5512 is serialized 1565349 and a IV.66 caseback makes me believe this 5512 was
produced in the last quarter of 1966. Furthermore, it makes me strongly believe that most of the
5512 "Bart Simpsons" were also produced in the mid to late 1966.
It's easy to see how the Rolex Submariner Ref 5512 paved the way for
the Modern Submariner we love today. Add the "Meter First" "4 lines" "bi
color" "Bart Simpson" untouched dial and it makes it a rare timepiece.
Call it whatever you want, but we will continue to call it the "King of Cool".
To see more images make sure to check out our listing on this elusive
Rolex 5512 Meters4 lines 'Bart Simpson... ¡Ay, caramba!