Rolex - START-STOP-RESET: 88 Epic Stainless Steel Chronographs Geneva Friday, May 13, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: 1941
    Reference No: 3997
    Case No: 047’556
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Manual, cal. Valjoux 22, 17 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Suede
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel buckle
    Dimensions: 36.5mm diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by Rolex presentation box.

  • Catalogue Essay

    To most experienced collectors, this watch, a Rolex reference 3997, is an incredible new discovery. It is a model that, until its appearance here, was not known to exist by the vast majority of scholars and enthusiasts. Absolutely fresh to the market, and thanks to its refined and supremely original condition, should be considered as one of the most exciting and rare Rolex chronographs to be offered in recent years at auction.

    This unbelievably rare reference is only the second example to surface until now. So many of its features make it extraordinary. It is fitted with a black, multi-scale dial that over the years has taken on a beautiful “tropical” shade of dark brown. Enhancing its beauty is the crisp, gold colored printing, with a telemeter scale along its outer circumference, and a charismatic, spiral-shaped tachometer scale at its center. Within the two snailed subsidiary dials, the printing has aged to a pleasing copper color.

    The oversized case was designed by angular lugs that combined with the square-shaped chronograph pushers, give it a modern appearance defying its ¾ century age. Due to its very generous case proportions and multiple scales, this piece must have been the first choice of an important gentleman, who may have seen days serving in the armed forces or could have possibly been seen during the weekends on the racetrack.

    With its exceptional rarity, large case size, and stunning dial, this vintage Rolex chronograph wristwatch certainly deserves a prominent position within the world’s finest collections.

  • 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. 3997
An extremely rare, highly attractive and large stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with ‘tropical’ dial, tachometer and telemeter scales, accompanied by presentation box.

36.5mm diameter
Case, dial and movement signed

CHF60,000 - 120,000 

Sold for CHF449,000

Contact Specialist
Livia Russo
+41 22 317 81 86

START-STOP-RESET: 88 Epic Stainless Steel Chronographs

Geneva Auction 14 May 2016