Rolex - The Geneva Watch Auction: FIVE Geneva Friday, May 12, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: circa 1953
    Reference No: 8724
    Movement No: 73'260
    Case No: 305
    Model Name: Champs Elysées
    Material: 18K yellow gold
    Calibre: Manual, cal. 1210, 17 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Leather
    Clasp/Buckle: Gold plated pin buckle signed Rolex
    Dimensions: 36mm. Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and buckle signed
    Literature: This watch is illustrated Collezionare Orologi Da Polso by Madeleine and Osvaldo Patrizzi page 112.

  • Catalogue Essay

    With record breaking prices for its sports models one tends to forget that in terms of fine watchmaking, Rolex had nothing to shy from Vacheron Constantin and Patek Philippe, the other two historical watchmakers whom like Rolex were based in Geneva.

    The present lot ticks all the boxes of the trophy watch for the discerning collector: surprising design, an exquisite cloisonné enamel dial, a historic brand and ultimate rarity.

    The spectacular dial of this masterpiece represents a “Chimère”, or Chimera, a winged, dragon-like fire breathing animal from Greek mythology with a lion's head, a goat's body, and a snake's tail.
    The present lot’s dial is a superb example of Marguerite Koch’s artistic talents as an enameller. She worked with dial makers Stern Frères to produce the dials of some of the most sought after Rolex watches to date. The numbers inscribed beneath the dial confirm production by Stern Frères with serial number 103 (Rolex code at Stern) * (meaning made by Stern) and 623 (order number).

    To create a cloisonné enamel dial, the artist first marks out the outline of the motifs using a fine gold wire to separate the various enamel regions. The artist then applies various enamel layers depending on the desired colors, while maintaining a very strict order in terms of the nature of the enamels according to the rules governing the firing process. This meticulous operation involves numerous successive firing operations in the kiln serving to intensify the color and light effects as well as the gradation of the materials. A dangerous process, as at each firing the dial can break or the enamel may react differently to the heat, resulting in a high rejection rate.

    The colors of the dial remain vibrant with hues of blue, green, yellow and red blending into a powerful representation of this mythical creature. It is also interesting to note the black background, a color extremely rare to master and achieve in enamel.

    Such exquisite dials were only fitted on Rolex’s most important watches. Housed inside a large reference 8724 this watch was advertised by Rolex as “Champs Elysées”, possibly as a nod to the sophistication and elegance of Paris’s most well known avenue and its inhabitants. This reference was produced in very few quantities in the early 1950s, and exclusively in yellow and pink gold. It is an extremely attractive and elegant case design, and the case of this particular example remains in extraordinarily well-preserved condition.

    The present lot first appeared in an international auction room in 1990 where it remained in a private collection until 2004. This is the third time in 27 years the present lot appears on the market.

    The present lot’s stunning beauty, extreme rarity, and exceptional craftsmanship clearly demonstrate in every way that this was a true Rolex masterpiece when made in around 1953. Over 60 years later, it remains a treasure worthy of crowning 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. 8724
An extremely rare, important, and highly attractive yellow gold wristwatch with cloisonné enamel dial depicting a Chimera

circa 1953
36mm. Diameter
Case, dial, movement and buckle signed

CHF100,000 - 200,000 

Sold for CHF274,000

Contact Specialist
Alexandre Ghotbi
+41 22 317 81 89

The Geneva Watch Auction: FIVE

Geneva Auctions 13 – 14 May 2017