Rolex - The Geneva Watch Auction: XI Geneva Sunday, June 28, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1958
    Reference No: 6538
    Movement No: N748380
    Case No: 307'531
    Model Name: Submariner, "James Bond Big Crown", "Coroncione"
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1030, 25 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet stamped "358" and "7836" to the endlinks, max length 200mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex deployant clasp
    Dimensions: 37.5mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and clasp signed

  • Catalogue Essay

    First launched in 1955, reference 6538 is incredibly desirable today due to its versatility, robust proportions and attractive appearance. The model was in production for four short years and is characterized by its black lacquer "Swiss"-signed dial, lack of crown guards and 8 millimeter crown hence belonging to the category of "Big Crown Submariner”, or “Coroncione” as they are known in Italy, a literal translation of Big Crown.

    Reference 6538 is forever immortalized onscreen, having accompanied Sean Connery’s James Bond on multiple secret missions. Bond’s gadget is most notably disguised as a "Big Crown" Submariner on films like Dr. No, From Russia with Love and Goldfinger. The agent's watch is fitted on different straps and equipped with different spying abilities. Consequently, reference 6538 is today also known as the "James Bond Submariner" to Rolex collectors and scholars. 

    This example, manufactured in approximately 1958, boasts an absolutely original dial, completely devoid of any kind of intervention or restoration. The original luminous material has now acquired a strong dark tobacco colour and the glossy finish has aged to a subtle matte effect. The dial presents a characteristic used by Rolex during these years for a very short time, the luminous marker at 6 being notably lighter than the others. This is an inherent feature of the dial rather than a case of different ageing. It is speculated that the lighter marker would work in combination with the triangular index at 12 to allow for an improved and more immediate readability of the time and therefore minimise the chance for error.

  • 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. 6538
An extremely rare and early automatic wristwatch with center seconds, gloss black dial and bracelet

Circa 1958
37.5mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement and clasp signed

CHF200,000 - 400,000 

Sold for CHF162,500

Contact Specialist

Alexandre Ghotbi
Head of Watches, Continental Europe and the Middle East

41 79 637 1724

The Geneva Watch Auction: XI

Geneva Auction 27 - 28 June 2020