An extremely rare and beautiful wristwatch with sweep center seconds, star-set numerals, black lacquer dial and bracelet

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: 1951
    Reference No: 6088
    Movement No: 53'766
    Case No: 716'115
    Model Name: "Galaxy"
    Material: 18K yellow gold
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. A296 10 1/2''', 19 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: 18K yellow gold expandable Rolex Oyster bracelet, max length 190mm.
    Clasp/Buckle: 18K yellow gold Rolex folding deployant clasp stamped 1.52
    Dimensions: 36mm. Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed
    Literature: A similar watch is illustrated in 100 Superlative Rolex Watches by John Goldberger, pages 38 and 39.

  • Catalogue Essay

    During the 1950s, Rolex produced a variety of time-only wristwatches to cater to the tastes and whims of the period. Fitted with a rounded automatic movement, these watches featured a larger case diameter than the fashionable "bubble backs" of the 1930s and 1940s, thus having a greater presence on the wrist. Rolex arguably produced some of the most creative and attractive watches during the postwar period - while some were fitted with a honeycomb dial, others featured applied Arabic numerals and even cloisonné enamel works of art. The possibilities and combinations were endless.

    Among those produced, one of the most exclusive and desirable variants of the time-only wristwatch featured a black lacquer dial with eight faceted stars in lieu of numerals, such as the present watch. Also known as the "Galaxy" from advertising of the period, it was acquired by the current owner at auction five years ago, fetching a price of 391,709 Swiss Francs - a new record for a time-only lacquer dial Rolex wristwatch. This record was only recently broken, a similar watch featuring star-set numerals having been sold at Phillips Geneva Watch Auction: TWO for a staggering 425,000 CHF.

    Sublime in so many ways, this example is one of the most exciting, striking and beautiful time-only wristwatches that Rolex produced in the 1950s. Lovingly preserved in extraordinary condition since 1951, it offers everything that a collector could only dream of acquiring. Its rarity is unmatched, being one of only four known time-only examples to bear this dial configuration.

    The beautiful black lacquer dial has been preserved in astounding condition, having retained its glossy appearance for over sixty years since its manufacture date. It is signed "Swiss" at the bottom of the dial, which is correct for a 1950s watch. The graphics range from an intense gold color, to a light shimmering shade, giving the dial depth and complexity, which is so characteristic of gilt dials and beloved by Rolex collectors and scholars.

    The star numerals are horizontally aligned, and set in position where they should be. Furthermore, the luminous dots are placed precisely within each star and perfectly round, having aged with warm orange patina. It should be noted that there are two types of black lacquer star dials. The other variant features luminous dots outside the stars, and the stars point directly towards the center of the watch.

    Featuring full and robust proportions, the case is presented in phenomenal condition, especially when one considers the age of the watch. The bezel is thick and defined, with a clear "step" where its edge meets the lugs. Light polishing would have immediately softened the facets and edges, yet this example remains extremely crisp. The top of the lugs furthermore displays sharp finishes, and the back of the lug features a pronounced hallmark that is immediately visible without the aid of a loupe. The expandable yellow gold Rolex bracelet is from the period, giving the watch a glamorous and luxurious appearance.

    Most interestingly, the present watch was manufactured during the same period as reference 6062, which also famously features a similar dial configuration. Known to the collecting community as the "Stelline", very few triple calendar wristwatches feature a black lacquer dial and star-set numerals, with the last example offered in The Geneva Watch Auction: ONE, lot 269. The most notable, noble and famous example is, without a double, the "Bao Dai" - a masterpiece that is also offered in this sale, with diamond-set markers where the star numerals should be.

    We are thrilled, humbled and excited to offer both "trophy" watches in this sale, the two of which are superlative examples within each of their categories.

  • Maker Bio

    Rolex

    Swiss • 1905

    Founded in 1905 England by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis as Wilsdorf & Davis, it soon became known as the Rolex Watch Company in 1915, moving its headquarters to Geneva in 1919. Like no other company, the success of the wristwatch can be attributed to many of Rolex's innovations that made them one of the most respected and well-known of all luxury brands. These innovations include their famous "Oyster" case — the world's first water resistant and dustproof watch case, invented in 1926 — and their "Perpetual" — the first reliable self-winding movement for wristwatches launched in 1933. They would form the foundation for Rolex's Datejust and Day-Date, respectively introduced in 1945 and 1956, but also importantly for their sports watches, such as the Explorer, Submariner and GMT-Master launched in the mid-1950s.

    One of its most famous models is the Cosmograph Daytona. Launched in 1963, these chronographs are without any doubt amongst the most iconic and coveted of all collectible wristwatches. Other key collectible models include their most complicated vintage watches, including references 8171 and 6062 with triple calendar and moon phase, "Jean Claude Killy" triple date chronograph models and the Submariner, including early "big-crown" models and military-issued variants.

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Rolex

Ref. 6088
An extremely rare and beautiful wristwatch with sweep center seconds, star-set numerals, black lacquer dial and bracelet

1951
36mm. Diameter
Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed

Estimate
CHF200,000 - 400,000 
€185,000-371,000
$198,000-396,000

sold for CHF670,000

Contact Specialist
Alexandre Ghotbi
+41 22 317 81 89

The Geneva Watch Auction: FIVE

Geneva Auctions 13 – 14 May 2017