Rolex ‘MilSub’ Issued to British Army Diver Could Fetch Tens of Thousands

An historic Rolex Military Submariner (MilSub) issued to a diver in the Royal Engineers is set to cause a bidding frenzy in our upcoming sale.

The watch was worn during military operations throughout the 1980s, including diving missions in the Falklands and the raising of the Mary Rose in 1982.


We are selling it alongside the diver’s log book, certificates, and service photographs. In addition to these, a Royal Engineers diving jumper belonging to the individual is being sold with the lot.

It is believed around 1,200 Rolex MilSub watches were issued, and only a few hundred have surfaced to this day.

The watch for sale sports a 5513 reference, and was issued in the mid-seventies by the British Ministry of Defence, before the diver acquired it a few years later.

Featuring as Lot 148 in Fellows’ Luxury Watch Sale, our auction will take place in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter on Monday 16th August. Moreover, it has an auction estimate of £18,000 – £26,000.

The Diver

Peter Melhuish, from Tunbridge Wells, completed his course at the Royal Engineers Diving School in 1978, he received a further diver’s certificate of competence from the Royal Engineers in 1981.


Enlisted by the Army in 1979, Melhuish requested one of these watches from the Royal Engineers in 1980. He then spent the following decade diving in various military operations around the world.

Melhuish’s full list of diving operations is documented in his log book, which is also included in the lot.

In September 1982, one of Melhuish’s operations included the Mary Rose prior to it being raised, which is currently on display at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

After leaving the Royal Engineers in 1990, Melhuish continued to wear the Rolex until recently. It has been sat in a sock drawer for the last five years.

watch specialist

Steven Yambo, our Senior Watch Specialist, said: “We rarely see watches with military history as fascinating as this. The Rolex would have been worn during diving operations around the globe, so we will undoubtedly see a high demand to view it.

“It is hard to imagine the sheer scope of the diving operations where Peter would have worn this timepiece. The log book details his fascinating period in the Royal Engineers throughout the 1980s and we are grateful to Peter for selling his watch with us. This timepiece has the potential to spark a bidding war at auction.”

The MilSub

The automatic movement still works on the MilSub, which formerly sported a bracelet, now features a dark green nylon ‘NATO’ strap.

As a result of luminous hour markers placed in the timepiece, the watch can aid with underwater use.

It will go under the hammer alongside just under 300 lots in the Luxury Watch Sale. London and Birmingham offices will be hosting viewings days for the high-end watch auction on selected dates.

Fellows is offering free shipping on the purchase of the timepiece.

We previously broke our house record for the sale of a watch in August 2021. A Rolex MilSub sold for a full price of £174,800.


Our valuations are free, with no obligation to sell with us. Our experts will value your item with an estimate, so you can find out what it could achieve at auction.

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