Rolex ‘Big Crown’ Submariner ref 6538, £43,500 at Bishop & Miller.

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A house record was achieved at the tail end of 2023 by Bishop & Miller (25% buyer’s premium) of Stowmarket for a rare variant of the Rolex Submariner.

On December 13 a ref 6538 ‘Big Crown’ - the watch forever immortalised by Sean Connery in 1960s Bond films - sold at £43,500 (estimate £10,000-15,000).

Made in the third quarter of 1957, the watch was purchased new by the vendor in the late 1950s before he was posted to Malaysia as a junior officer in the Royal Army Service Corps (later the Royal Army Ordinance Corps).

He also served in Kenya as well as tours in Germany and the UK, retiring as a major in 1974. In addition to the outsize crown, the watch features red lettering and marks to the dial and an oversize white painted ‘lollipop’ seconds hand. It was sold to a UK buyer.

Wedding gift


Rolex Milsub 5513 c.1975 with later dial and hands, £65,000 at Sterling Vault.

A Rolex Milsub 5513 with just one previous owner was offered at Sterling Vault (20% buyer’s premium) in Worthing on February 29. Made c.1975, it was given to a Royal Marine on his wedding day in 1981 by a friend in the Special Boat Service and had been in his possession ever since.

In pure commercial terms it was hampered by a later dial and hands from a prior Rolex service (in original condition these watches can easily bring six-figures) but it nonetheless took £65,000, against the guide of £20,000- 40,000.