Rolex - The Geneva Watch Auction: XIII Geneva Saturday, May 8, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1955
    Reference No: 6309
    Movement No: 84'011
    Case No: 74'539
    Model Name: Oyster Perpetual, "Thunderbird"
    Material: 18K yellow gold
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. A296, 25 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: 18K yellow gold Rolex bracelet, max length 195mm
    Clasp/Buckle: 18K yellow gold Rolex deployant clasp
    Dimensions: 35mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed

  • Catalogue Essay

    The rotating bezel has always been an important aid for divers, pilots and other technical-related professionals. The Zerographe, which Rolex made in very scarce numbers, was the very first model from the company to officially feature a rotating bezel. While reference 6202 was officially the first serially produced sports watch to feature a rotating bezel, the reference ceased production after a few years due to its lack of popularity.

    Rolex merged the Turn-O-Graph and Datejust models in 1954 with reference 6309. A combination of a sports and dress watch, the watch was advertised with images of the U.S. Air Force acrobatic flying team, or Group Number 3600 of Air Demonstration. Reference 6309 and its successors adopted the namesake Thunderbird after the flying team’s emblem.

    The present watch most notably presents the first generation bezel, displaying an engine-turned finish. The elaborate finish of the bezel, while extremely attractive, is also extremely susceptible to polishing. Luckily, in this instance it is preserved in excellent condition, as is the rest of the timepiece most notably the dial. Free of any mark or scratch, it has acquired with time a beautiful off-white patina, enhancing the vintage appeal of the watch . Finally, the piece retains its original "roulette" (alternated red and black date) date wheel - today a rarity in itself.

  • 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.

    View More Works


Ref. 6309
A very rare, highly attractive and extremely well preserved yellow gold automatic wristwatch with center seconds, "roulette" date, "Thunderbird" bezel and bracelet

Circa 1955
35mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed

CHF15,000 - 30,000 

Sold for CHF97,020

Contact Specialist

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

41 79 637 1724



The Geneva Watch Auction: XIII

Geneva Auction 8 - 9 May 2021