An extremely rare, highly attractive, and well-preserved yellow gold triple calendar wristwatch with moon phases and two-tone dial

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1951
    Reference No: 8171, inside case back stamped 8171
    Movement No: 10’422/G4787
    Case No: 820’634, interior stamped 613
    Model Name: "Padellone"
    Material: 18K yellow gold
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 10 1/2'', 18 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Rolex lizard strap
    Clasp/Buckle: Gold-plated Rolex buckle
    Dimensions: 38mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement, and buckle signed.
    Literature: An example of the reference 8171 in 18K yellow gold is illustrated in John Goldberger’s 100 Superlative Rolex Watches, pp. 78-79. Additional examples are illustrated on page 55.

  • 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 until the 2017 introduction of the Cellini Moonphase. 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 between 1949 and 1952.

    Reference 8171 impresses not only with its large 38mm 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, such as the current lot. On the opposite side of the scale, when subjected to repeated and unprofessional polishing, most of its charm and beauty is lost. This particular reference 8171 has happily not suffered such a fate. The Rolex crown and case number on the back, notoriously susceptible to rubbing off or disappearing entirely with any unskilled polish, is still quite visible with sharp definition. The brushed finishing to the sides of the case and underside of the lugs is still beautifully present, as is the Helvetia hallmark with the ‘G’ for the Geneva bureau de contrôle below. The lugs are thick and full, and there is a definitive step between the lugs and the case, which is only seen on the best preserved models.

    Due to the sheer expanse of the dial, it is what draws the eye first when being evaluated by collectors and aficionados. The current lot has a beautiful and desirable two-tone dial, with the inner dial having aged to an even lemon crème color that harmonizes well with the lustre of the case. The blue numerals on the outer day track are well preserved with no signs of fading or loss. The overall effect is quite sublime.

    Fresh-to-the-market, it is even fitted with its original Rolex strap and buckle – both as well-preserved as the case, indicating the watch was hardly ever worn. This timepiece offers collectors the opportunity to own one of the most beautiful and charismatic examples of the reference 8171 in yellow gold to surface in recent memory.

  • 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. 8171, inside case back stamped 8171
An extremely rare, highly attractive, and well-preserved yellow gold triple calendar wristwatch with moon phases and two-tone dial

Circa 1951
38mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement, and buckle signed.

Estimate
$220,000 - 360,000 
CHF219,000-359,000
€191,000-313,000
HK$1,730,000-2,820,000

sold for $350,000

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

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