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

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1954
    Reference No: 6200
    Movement No: 27'101
    Case No: 32'258
    Model Name: Submariner "Big Crown"
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. A296, 17 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet, max length 190mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex clasp
    Dimensions: 37.5mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present watch represents a stunning discovery in the world of horology. Coming fresh to the auction market, it was just recently unearthed in a souk on the streets of Cairo, Egypt and is preserved in absolutely "barn find" condition. Having spent many years untouched, it wins the "preservation class" award on all levels and is a superlative Submariner in incredibly honest and original condition. It is furthermore testament to the fact that jewels can still be hidden for many years and found in the most unassuming of places despite the rise of social media and the internet.

    Introduced at the 1954 Basel Fair, the Submariner was Rolex's version of a water-resistant dive watch. While references 6204 and 6205 were water resistant to a depth of 100 meters, the more robust reference 6200 offered water resistance up to a depth of 200 meters. This model was nicknamed the “Big Crown” due to its oversized 8-millimeter “Brevet” crown that enabled cutting-edge water resistance. Of all reference 6200s, the most iconic variant is without a doubt one with an "Explorer" 3-6-9 dial like the present watch.

    Production numbers of the "Explorer Submariner" were extremely limited and their serial numbers range from 31.9xx to around 32.2xx. With a serial number of 32'258, the present watch is actually 10 digits away from an almost identical example found from descendants of the original owner in Scandinavia and sold at Phillips' The Geneva Watch Auction: NINE. It is incredible how two watches, both made and cased probably on the same day, eventually traveled to opposite ends of the globe.

    This reference 6200 ticks all the boxes for the passionate collector. Boasting a large 37.5mm case, it displays a highly desirable “Explorer” 3-6-9 lacquer dial. Most interestingly, this particular model has the "Submariner" script above 6 o'clock, making it a particularly rare variant as most known examples do not display writing on the dial. No more than a few correct examples are known in this configuration, underscoring the rarity of this timepiece.

    Displaying thick bevels and incredible proportions, this Submariner displays a very impressive case. It retains its original Brevet crown. Furthermore, the dial is preserved in extremely attractive condition with barely any losses to the luminous material, which has aged evenly to a beautiful warm hue. The dial has not been altered throughout its life (which is a marvel in itself as many existing examples today have been "touched up" at least once during its lifespan), and the gilt graphics shine through beautifully. The inside caseback bears only one service mark - it is possible that this is the only intervention the watch has seen throughout its lifetime.

    Used throughout its lifetime, this timepiece (like many of its kind) lost its bezel insert somewhere along its life. In order to preserve the integrity of the timepiece, the consigner and Phillips have decided to offer the following timepiece as the same manner as it was found - without a new insert and with a broken bracelet. Instead, a new-old-stock period correct bezel has been painstakingly sourced and is available for purchase upon winning this timepiece at auction.

  • 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. 6200
A highly rare, important and well-preserved stainless steel wristwatch with black lacquer "explorer" dial and bracelet

Circa 1954
37.5mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed

CHF250,000 - 500,000 

Sold for CHF400,000

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