For those new to vintage Rolex collecting, this type of dial is called the Meters First Dial because in the printed depth rating, the depth in meters precedes the depth in feet.

The change from the gilt gloss dialed 5513 to the meters first matte dialed 5513 started around the 1.6 mil serial range or 1966. The majority of the cases stamped with a 1.7 serial number were produced in 1968, and by then the meters first matte dial was in full production. However the period from late 1969 to early 1970, consistent with the 2.2 mil serial range, represents an overlap in which both meters first and feet first matte 5513 dials can be found. I have read that perhaps the reason for the transition from meters first to feet first was an attempt to increase sales in the US market, a country that had not at the time and still has not widely adopted the metric system.

It is not uncommon to have unsuspecting buyers purchase a Meters First Rolex Submariner only to find out later that the dial is not genuine. Below are a few important characteristics of the 5513 meters first matte dial that I look for to help determine authenticity:

  • starting from the top of the dial, the “L” in “ROLEX” should have very little if any serif on top and should be centered under the coronet. Serif is defined as small extensions at the letter’s vertical and horizontal termination points that enhance its appearance and readability.
  • the “6’s” in the depth rating are semi-open and to my eye appear that the top is rotated a couple degrees in the clockwise direction. I use the term semi-open here because it may take a 10X loupe to show that the “6’s” are in fact non closed.
  • the “S” in Submariner has a very characteristic shape with the top part of the “S” straight across, and the middle horizontal portion closer to the top part than the bottom portion of the “S”.
  • Finally, the “SWISS - T < 25” marking at the bottom of the dial is across a total of five minute hash marks at the bottom of the dial. This is in contrast to the Non Serif Dials and subsequent dials that had the “SWISS - T < 25” across only three minute hash marks at the bottom of the dial. Please note that there was a short run of 5512 meters first matte dials with the “SWISS - T < 25” across only three minute hash marks, but I have never seen an example of a Meters First matte 5513 dial with that characteristic. 

Click thumbnails below to view full-size images:

While the text on the 5513 Meters First matte dials are pretty uniform, the application of the tritium is different. Those dials with the tritium applied early in the production run have a very thin layer of tritium and can appear very white. On these dials it may be hard to detect the tritium without a loupe. It is not uncommon for those dials in the middle of the run to have the tritium appear more dome-like. For the dials seen near the end of the production run the tritium is applied in a flat layer more akin to the manner seen during the rest of the 70’s.  Below are some examples.

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