Submariner 6204 ca. 1954

Case No. 988,9xx


This dial and all subsequent gilt dials had a coating of lacquer applied. However, it appears to be thinner than coatings applied on later Submariner models such as the 6536-1 and 5508. After many decades, most of the lacquer has gassed out or oxidized, losing much of its gloss. This natural aging leaves a unique matte textured finish that becomes discolored to varying degrees.


Although the bezel inlay appears identical to the previous Submariner 6204 "Waffle Dial," the divot as 12:00 has been enlarged to accommodate more luminous material.



Shortly after its initial release, the Submariner 6204 received some minor updates around 1954. This specimen comes from a subsequent batch with a serial number almost 50,000 numbers later than the earlier example.

During this gap in case number sequence Rolex had an opportunity to make the biggest change with newer design for the dial. When compared to the previous Submariner 6204 "Waffle Dial," we note that the writing below the crown has been changed to "Oyster Perpetual." The model name, "Submariner," has moved position below the center post and increased in size and legibility. The Waffle pattern has been eliminated. The lettering and graphics stand out better on a flat surface, and production is also simplified.

Also known as a "Gilt" dial because of the gold writing, the lettering and graphics are actually a stencil of the brass dial plate underneath the paint layer (see illustration below). Another interesting dial characteristic on this model is the shape of the dial plate whose outer rim is rounded like a bull nose. This gives the dial a more dimensional appearance, especially under the domed crystal, reminiscent of a ship porthole.

The luminous material, or "Lume," is Radium was hand applied. Although, it no longer glows in the dark, the Lume still reacts to UV light with a unique speckled glow that collectors have learned to recognize. Once the UV light is removed, the Lume stops glowing immediately. Radium also has a much stronger Geiger counter reading than any other luminous marterial.

The earliest Submariners references 6204 and 6205 hands are affectionately called "pencil hands" by collectors due to their shape. Made from a metal alloy that was gold-plated, they are flat on top, a design that also came to be known as "Gilt Hands." When the hands move about the face of the dial, the "Lollipop" 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 case number is 9889xx (last 2 digits xx for privacy), one of the early batches of Submariners known. It was numbered prior to the 'reset' to 10000 that occurred after 999,999, circa 1954. The stainless steel case measures approximately 37.5mm wide sans crown, its the same shape and size as the 6205 reference. The sides have a light satin finish as well as the tops of lugs. The crown measures 5.2mm and has the well known "+" symbol for "swiss made below the crown logo. The screw-on case back is rounded like a "bubble" to accommodate the A260 movement and its rotor. The case uses a domed #16 acrylic crystal that fits all other Small Crowns, with the exception of the 6536/8.

The brass bezel once had nickel plating that has oxidized or worn away with usage. The early bezel has smaller knurling compared to later years. The early "no-hash" inlay has a small divot to accommodate a small dollop of luminous material that would typically fall away.

The 6204 is powered by the Rolex A260 Automatic Movement.

The 6204 was fitted with a spring loaded Swiss rivet bracelet was made for Rolex by world renowned Gay Frères. The 20mm fixed end links are typically marked "65" or "64" and the  clasp has a stamped quality control date code. is intended for informational purposes only and is in no way sponsored, endorsed,

or affiliated with Rolex U.S.A., Rolex S.A. or any other Rolex worldwide subsidiary. © All Rights Reserved 2020