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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: 1954
    Reference No: 6309
    Movement No: 70818/H40598
    Case No: 989'108
    Model Name: Oyster Perpetual "Thunderbird"
    Material: 18 yellow gold
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 743, 18 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: 18k yellow gold Rolex Jubilee, max length 190mm.
    Clasp/Buckle: Folding deployant clasp, stamped 3.54
    Dimensions: 35mm. Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed

  • Catalogue Essay

    The Rolex “Turn-O-Graph” model, has in recent times achieved cult status in the Rolex collectors community. Also known as the “Thunderbird”, Rolex introduced the name for the U.S. market in the late 1950s when it began supplying the model to the U.S. Air Force’s Thunderbird aerobatic squadron. The reference 6309 – the present lot – was the second-generation Turn-O-Graph model introduced in 1954 with an upgraded movement and produced through 1959.

    Fitted with a graduated, rotating bezel, the Turn-O-Graph was designed to measure elapsed time similar to a chronograph, without the cost of a complicated chronograph caliber. It was a revolutionary design that was quickly adopted by many brands after Rolex’s introduction. The Turn-O-Graph was essentially a Datejust model, modified to become a tool watch by the addition of the rotating bezel. The larger bezel shrunk the visible surface area of the dial, causing the original “Swiss” of the Datejust dials used to nearly disappear. On this very early example, Rolex therefore printed a second “Swiss Made” at 6 o’clock to ensure this important designation was clearly visible. The present yellow gold watch with yellow gold bracelet was at its time of production, one of the most expensive and exclusive watches produced by Rolex. The 3.54 stamped on the bracelet clasp is absolutely consistent with the case number, and when combined with its excellent overall condition, it is a superb example of a very early Datejust Turn-O-Graph model for the connoisseur.

  • Artist Biography

    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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Ref. 6309
A very attractive yellow gold wristwatch with red date, diamond set hour markers, calibrated revolving bezel and "Double Swiss"-dial

1954
35mm. Diameter
Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed

Estimate
CHF25,000 - 50,000 
€23,000-45,900
$25,800-51,500

Contact Specialist
Nathalie Monbaron
+41 22 317 81 83

The Geneva Watch Auction: THREE

Geneva Auction 15 May 2016