How 2013’s Totally Surprising Supreme x Rolex Collab Went Down

With rumours of an upcoming collaboration between New York-based streetwear brand Supreme and Swiss luxury watchmakers Rolex, now would be a good time to revisit 2013’s Supreme x Rolex Submariner watch. Despite the unlikely pairing, this iteration of Rolex’s iconic dive watch has become a highly desirable piece – mainly due to the fact that there were only around 20 ever produced. So what’s the real story behind this rare watch that can now command a USD$100,000 price tag?

Update 30/08/2022: The Justin Reed listing for the USD$100,000 Bamford x Supreme x Rolex listing was removed from his marketplace shortly after the news broke of a potential Supreme x Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date. The YouTube video showcasing the watch has also been removed, but we’ve managed to source the unlisted video seen in the feature above.

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First, let’s put to bed the idea that this watch was a true Rolex x Supreme collaboration. Rolex prides itself on being an exclusive brand, with buyers routinely spending years on waiting lists to secure their favourite models. They don’t do collabs. Based in Geneva, Rolex watches are manufactured in the shadow of the Swiss Alps and Jura mountains.

On the other hand, Supreme is a young, vibrant company built around the skating community. It’s proudly urban, with the original New York store designed to accommodate customers skating into the building. So how did the world’s most famous luxury watch company end up linked to an edgy streetwear brand valued at USD$2 billion? And how the hell did 20 Rolex Submariners come to have Supreme’s ‘Fuck Em’ slogan emblazoned on their dials?

The answer is simple. Supreme had the watches customised by British specialists Bamford Watch Department. London-based Bamford is famed for its cosmetic watch modifications and was an ideal choice to personalise 20 Rolex Submariners. Whether the watches were originally intended to hit the retail market is a source for debate, with speculation at the time suggesting that pressure from Rolex nipped that idea in the bud. In the end, they were gifted to family and friends, making them even more difficult to acquire.

Supreme x rolex submariner in box

Image: Justin Reed

Either way, Rolex Submariner 114060 models, with ‘Fuck Em’ on the dial were always going to excite – not least because this is a very desirable watch in its own right. The 114060 reference was a beefed-up version of the world’s most famous dive watch with fans referring to the larger case as a maxi-case and the enlarged indexes as a maxi-dial. Crucially, it forgoes a date window and accompanying cyclops lens in favour of a very legible and symmetrical dial. The only reference to the Supreme brand is the red slogan on the dial and the more familiar boxed Supreme logo engraved on the case back. The modifications are subtle.

It’s yet to be seen if there will be a legitimate Supreme x Rolex watch, but one thing is guaranteed. Another Rolex watch with a Supreme logo would definitely cause a stir – good or bad.

Supreme x rolex submariner

Image: Justin Reed

Supreme x rolex submariner caseback

Image: Justin Reed

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CONTRIBUTOR

Lee Smith

Lee Smith lives in Tynemouth, England. Having graduated with a BA(Hons) from Sheffield University (1996) he spent several years at a FTSE 100 software company. He left to pursue his love of literature and opened a bookstore. As well as exhibiting books at events around the UK, he also became manager of the annual Alnwick Bookfair. In 2016 Lee switched to his other passion - watches. He began retailing niche brands and launched his own microbrand. He then used his extensive knowledge of watches to write a popular blog. Since 2020 he's written about watches full time.