This example has a serial range that is slightly later than the first batch of the Ref. 5508 that was produced. It has a slightly different dial variant than the first batch. The depth rating is printed in silver ink on top of the lacquer layer, as opposed to gold ink. The silver color stands out better than the gold ink and has better contrast to the black dial. This evolution makes more sense and became the new norm for depth ratings for a number of years. All other characteristics appear to be the same as the earlier batch of watches. In the 1960s, the depth rating was integrated into the galvanic layer and was the same color as the other lettering.
Submariner 5508 - “Silver Depth” ca. 1958
Case No. 400,xxx
The luminous material on the dial and hands was manually applied Radium like most Small Crowns from the 1950s. Although it no longer glows in the dark, the Radium still has a distinct "speckled" glow when exposed to UV Light and has a relatively high Geiger reading as well. Please see the "Luminous" section for further information about characteristics of glow-in-the-dark materials used by Rolex.
The hands are made from a metal alloy that was gold-plated. They are also flat on top, a design that came to be known by collectors as "Gilt Hands." When the hands move about the face of the dial, the sweep-seconds hand appears to lightly graze the "Chapter" ring of the minute track. When it briefly glides over the minute hand, they are perfectly aligned.
The outer case back is flat and reference number 5508 is stamped inside the case back with a date code. The Submariner 5508 is powered by the Rolex 1530 Automatic movement. The Submariner 5508 also uses the #16 crystal that fits the Submariner 6536-1.
In 1959, two distinct clasp designs were being commissioned by Rolex from bracelet maker Gay Frères. The Small Logo, which became the standard clasp for the Swiss Rivet bracelets until 1969 and the Big Logo which is coveted by collectors but was only produced until 1960. Additional details about end links and bracelets can be found here.
Small Logo clasp introduced in 1958
Big Logo clasp introduced in 1958
Rolex also contracted with C&I to make bracelets in the United States. The import duties on Swiss made bracelets was becoming cost prohibitive and it made more economic sense to have a US based manufacturer. C&I produced Hollow Rivet bracelets with unmarked end links that have a markedly lighter gauge than Swiss made bracelets. Additional details about end links and bracelets can be found here.
US Made C&I Rivet Bracelet 1958
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