An extremely rare, highly attractive and well-preserved triple calendar wristwatch with grainé dial featuring luminous hour markers and hands.

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: 1950
    Reference No: 8171
    Movement No: 56’732
    Case No: 686’086, interior stamped 172
    Model Name: ‘Padellone’
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 10"1/2, 18 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Leather
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex buckle
    Dimensions: 38mm diameter
    Literature: Another example of a stainless steel reference 8171 is published in 100 Superlative Rolex Watches by John Goldberger, pages 76 & 77.

  • Catalogue Essay

    The Rolex Reference 8171, known as the “Padellone” (Italian for large frying pan) amongst collectors, is one of the most legendary, best proportioned, and consequently sought after vintage wristwatches ever made by any manufacturer. If one were to ask the worldwide community of watch collectors which model, in their view, should be on the all-time top-ten list of collectors’ watches, Rolex’s large triple calendar reference 8171, would certainly be most often cited. During the end of the 1940s and into the 1950s, much of Rolex’s design efforts concentrated on tool watches for a new world order, where an increasingly active public demanded precision timekeepers that could withstand the harsh environments they encountered. Rolex’s two full calendar watches – the references 8171 and 6062 - were a departure from the tool watch to a complicated wristwatch for the modern gentleman. Whether for business, travel or the weekend, they were the only two models Rolex ever produced indicating the day of the week, month, date, and moon phase. Classically styled wristwatches with a lineage reaching back to the days of the pocket watch, they were only in production for a very short period during the early 1950s and both were available in yellow gold, pink gold or stainless steel.

    Reference 8171 impresses not only with its large 38 mm diameter, especially when considering that a large gentleman’s watch in 1950 was around 35mm, but in particular with its harmonious case proportions and sharp edges, facets and angles. As a consequence, the 8171 case is breathtaking when preserved in close to mint condition. On the opposite side of the scale, when subjected to repeated and unprofessional polishing, most of its charm and beauty is lost. The silvered grain-finished dial seen in the present lot is exceptionally rare and well preserved. Displaying the typical silver-colored faceted and embossed hour markers with Arabic numeral 12, surrounded by the date ring with rich sky-blue colored numbers ranging from 1 to 31, at the top of each hour marker is found wonderfully preserved and original luminous markers. One of the rarest of all dial types seen on the 8171, with luminous hour markers, it remains remarkably clean with no signs of restorations and hardly any signs of aging. The case of the present lot preserves the perfect mirror-finished surfaces on the bezel and the top surface of the lugs while retaining an immaculate satin-finish to the band of the case and the sides of the lugs as well as the center of the case back and the perfectly crisp Rolex coronet and 6-digit serial number. The present “Padellone” must therefore be considered as one of the world’s finest examples in existence. In its nearly 70 years of life, it hardly came close to a polishing wheel, and likely spent most of its existence tucked away in a drawer and rarely, if ever, worn. The case harmonizes with the wonderful grainé dial, with lume plots that have turned to a warm beige tone. A mere handful of 8171 examples in stainless steel have appeared at auction over the past 30 years with a similar combination of quality, appeal, condition, and rarity – the key factors of an elite collectors’ watch all coming together. Factoring in its exceptionally rare luminous dial, the present lot is a superb example of the iconic 8171 that can certainly be considered a trophy watch worthy of a prominent position within a world-class collection.

  • 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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Ο12

Rolex

Ref. 8171
An extremely rare, highly attractive and well-preserved triple calendar wristwatch with grainé dial featuring luminous hour markers and hands.

1950
Case, dial and movement signed
38mm diameter

Estimate
$400,000 - 800,000 
CHF390,000-779,000
€341,000-682,000
HK$3,120,000-6,250,000

sold for $603,000

Contact Specialist
Paul Boutros
Head of Watches, Americas
+1 212 940 1293
pboutros@phillips.com

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