Rolex - Geneva Watch Auction: FOUR Geneva Friday, November 11, 2016 | Phillips
  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: 1959
    Reference No: 6538
    Movement No: N837042
    Case No: 449'170
    Model Name: Submariner
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1030, 25 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel expandable Rolex Oyster bracelet, max length 195mm.
    Clasp/Buckle: Folding deployant clasp stamped 74
    Dimensions: 37mm. Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed

  • Catalogue Essay

    Charismatic, spectacular, stunning, and enchanting are just a few of the many superlatives that can be used to describe this reference 6538 from 1959. Not only is the present lot all original with the correct dial, bezel and winding crown, but it is also in absolute stunning condition with hardly any signs of wear and polishing. Quite simply, it is without any doubt, a dream “Big Crown” Submariner for collectors in terms of condition and aesthetic beauty.
    The dial is a work of art unto itself, with small but defining important details that make it, in our opinion, the most important reference 6538 known in the collecting community. The original black lacquer dial has aged to a superb and uniform chocolate color highlighted by the cream color of the indexes and hands. Exceptionally, the glossy nature of the dial is immaculate and absolutely well preserved, with no cracks, losses, or fading that is usually found on such dials. Furthermore, four lines on the dial make a connoisseur’s heart beat faster: most earlier examples of the Submariner 6538 featured two lines, "200m = 660ft" and "SUBMARINER". The present watch displays the words "OFFICIALLY CERTIFIED CHRONOMETER", on two lines below "SUBMARINER". Interestingly the four lines are printed in different fonts and colors. The depth rating is printed in silver, while the model name is gilt (as well as the coronet, "ROLEX" and "OYSTER PERPETUAL" and the outer track with minute markings). The last two lines are in a greyish-white color and with thinner letters.
    The reference 6538 is known by two nick names, the "James Bond" due to the watch's appearance on Sean Connery’s wrist in Dr. No, and also by the Italian name for “big crown” or “Coroncione”.
    The example offered here is a collector’s best opportunity to acquire a legendary watch that has survived the passage of time in such pristine condition, with a tropical dial that has aged in the most superb manner. Currently, the present watch holds the record for the highest price ever realized at auction for a Submariner, further highlighting its importance. It is an ultimate trophy for collectors of rare Rolex sports watches.

  • Artist Biography


    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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Ref. 6538
An extremely rare and highly attractive stainless steel wristwatch with centre seconds, tropical brown “four liner” dial and bracelet

37mm. Diameter
Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed

CHF300,000 - 600,000 

Sold for CHF562,000

Contact Specialist
Alexandre Ghotbi
+41 22 317 81 89

Geneva Watch Auction: FOUR

Geneva Auctions 12 – 13 November 2016