It’s always fun when a big watch pops up on Ebay â and today there is one such watch. Â SometimesÂ it works out like a dream, but more times than not, it’s just fun to watch the life cycle of the discovery. First, those who find it early on think they’ve discovered a dream, and maybe they’ll be able to rip a six figure watch for a fraction of its worth. But, they’re not sure about it, so they send it to a few friends who might be more knowledgeable. And from there, the watch spreads, and soon a significant percentage of the vintage watch community knows about it. If it’s real, it goes high (but certainly not as high as it would on another format), and if it’s bad, well, it ends up here and those who were watching it continue to go about their lives. This watch, a Rolex Submariner reference 5513 supposedly with an “Explorer” dial currently on Ebay belongs to the latter category â it’s bad with a capital “B.” I’ll explain.
So what is an “Explorer dial” Sub? It is a rare variant of your common 5513 Submariner that features Arabic numerals at the poles, just like the dial of a Rolex Explorer. These watches are incredibly rare and valuable, and most of them seem to come out of the United Kingdom. When a good one does come up for sale, it’s a fairly big deal, and we covered an original owner piece not long ago here. The Explorer dial Sub, however, is also one of the most faked vintage Rolex watches there is because the dial alone is the value driver. Eric Ku posted a fantastic look at the wide range of fake Explorer dials here and it’s absolutely worth a read because these dials ended up in the hands of both prominent collectors and dealers.
Here’s the thing though â the watch on Ebay today, which is a reference 5513 dating to 1965 and currently selling at over â¬16,000 â yeah, it’s not even close. There is one easy way to tell that this one is just plain bad â the dial is matte. And there is no such thing as a matte Explorer dial Sub. Indeed, all Explorer dial Subs are glossy gilt dials, so this watch just isn’t even close and Eric’s great resource linked to above isn’t even necessary.Â
Before I wrote this story I wanted to confirm my assumptions with a few experts and one of them mentioned something that throws a kink into this whole thing â the dial on this watch looks like a real meters-first matte dial for a 5513. So we have what appears to be a real case, a real movement, a real caseback and what was at one point a real dial, just refinished. So how is this watch fake? Well, it depends on your definition of fake. It’s a real Rolex, and the dial itself may in fact be one made by Rolex, just refinished by stripping the original finish and then applying tritium in the Explorer style. To someone not in the collectible watch world, they probably wouldn’t think it’s that bad. But in our world, where the value is driven so significantly by the dial alone, it must be labeled as a bad watch.
So, no matter how badly you want this matte dial Explorer Sub to be real, I’m afraid it’s not. And actually it’s not even close (when referring to the dial). Now the watch is currently active on Ebay Germany with a price of over $17,000 and 25 bids with over a week left in the sale. Who knows how far it will get, but whoever buys it will be getting a decent looking 5513 from 1965 that will immediately require a new dial for significantly more than its worth. We have contacted Ebay about this watch to inform them about the dial so it may beÂ pulledÂ down, but in the mean time, have a look at this one here.