A highly important and most attractive yellow gold wristwatch with cloisonné enamel dial depicting a Dragon

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: 1952
    Reference No: 6085
    Movement No: F38127 / 24714
    Case No: 769'206
    Model Name: "The Dragon"
    Material: 18k yellow gold
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 645, 20 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: 18K yellow gold, 190mm. max length
    Clasp/Buckle: Folding deployant clasp
    Dimensions: 33mm. Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed
    Literature: A similar watch is featured in 100 Superlative Rolex Watches by John Goldberger pp. 44-45

  • Catalogue Essay

    Rolex wristwatches fitted with cloisonné enamel dials are amongst the world’s most desirable collectible watches. Within these exquisitely rare and highly sought after watches, those depicting a dragon are considered the ultimate motif for the most discerning collectors. During the 1950s, Rolex produced some of their most iconic cloisonné dial wristwatches in conjunction with world renowned Stern Frères dial makers of Geneva.

    The present reference 6085 is an important Rolex wristwatch fitted with a spectacular cloisonné dial depicting the coveted dragon. The records of the legendary dial makers Stern Frères show that this dial, with serial number 103 (Rolex code at Stern) * (meaning made by Stern) and 770 (order number) on the back of the dial, was made by one of Geneva’s most acclaimed enamelers, Mrs. Nelly Richard, who worked with Stern to produce the dials of some of the most sought after Rolex watches to date. The dragon is a mythical creature depicted as a large, fire breathing reptile possessing great powers in many cultures, best known for its benevolent abilities, bringing prosperity, health, bountiful crops and granting wishes.

    Fabricating such a polychrome, cloisonné enamel dial is amongst the most painstakingly difficult and labor intensive processes in watchmaking. The artist first marks out the outline of the motifs using a fine gold wire to separate the various enamel regions. Multiple enamel layers are applied depending on the desired colors, followed by numerous successive firing operations in a kiln serving to intensify the color and light effects as well as the gradation of the enamel. A dangerous process as at each firing the dial can break or the enamel may react differently to the heat, resulting in high rejection rates.

    The colors of the dial are vibrant, radiating brightly with hues of orange and green that blend into a powerful representation of this legendary creature. Such exquisite dials were only fitted on Rolex’s most important watches. Scholarship indicates that only five Dragon dial models are known to date, each housed in a different reference making this example, a reference 6085, most likely unique. The present lot’s stunning beauty, uniqueness, and exceptional craftsmanship clearly demonstrate in every way that this was a true Rolex masterpiece when made in 1952. Over 60 years later, it remains a treasure worthy of crowning the world’s finest collections.

  • Maker Bio

    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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Rolex

Ref. 6085
A highly important and most attractive yellow gold wristwatch with cloisonné enamel dial depicting a Dragon

1952
33mm. Diameter
Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed

Estimate
CHF500,000 - 1,000,000 
€459,000-918,000
$515,000-1,030,000

sold for CHF670,000

Contact Specialist
Alexandre Ghotbi
+41 22 317 81 89

The Geneva Watch Auction: FOUR

Geneva Auctions 12 – 13 November 2016