Rolex - The Geneva Watch Auction: X Geneva Saturday, November 9, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: 1987
    Reference No: 168000
    Case No: 9'638'219
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 3035, 27 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet, max length 190mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex deployant clasp stamped K11
    Dimensions: 40mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by facsimile of correspondence between the Organizers of the First Fleet Re-enactment and Rolex, and facsimile of purchase receipt from Captain Kenneth Edwards.

  • Catalogue Essay

    The first of its kind to ever grace the auction market, the present watch is an extraordinary discovery and provides renewed scholarship to the vintage Rolex market. At first glance, it looks like a typical albeit well-preserved reference 168000. Yet, the reverse of the timepiece tells a completely intriguing story and bears the engraving "First Fleet - Re - Enactment Fleet 13 May 1987 - 27 Jan 1988 England Australia".

    The present watch was originally purchased from a Captain of the First Fleet Re-enactment Voyage - a bicentenary commemorative historical reenactment of the First Fleet of Australia's colonisation in 1788. Further research in the form of a letter facsimile between the organizers of the First Fleet Re-enactment Committee and Rolex reveals that the manufacture "would take pleasure in giving steel wristwatches to the 11 captains of the Re-enactment Fleet when the time comes", providing that the organizers "would be willing to consider Rolex as the watch of the Re-enactment operation." This wonderful slice of Rolex history not only provides a glimpse into the inner workings of the mystery-shrouded manufacture, but also confirms the legitimacy of the present timepiece.

    Furthermore, this timepiece was purchased directly from Captain Kenneth Edwards of the First Fleet Re-enactment Voyage, and is accompanied by a facsimile of the purchase agreement between the seller of the timepiece and the Captain himself - further proof of this incredible horological revelation.

    The watch itself is preserved in unpolished condition. Having never been serviced throughout its life, it displays factory finishes throughout. Interestingly, the hands are slightly lighter in color than the luminous markers - we are of the opinion that they are most probably original to the timepiece, considering the overall quality and history of the timepiece. The dial has aged beautifully, and the luminous markers now display beautiful warm patina. Most notably, there is a minuscule and precise "hole" above the "First" engraving on the caseback - this was used to hold the caseback in place while Rolex did the engraving, similar to Peruvian Air Force or Asprey-delivered timepieces.

  • 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. 168000
The only publicly known stainless steel reference 168000 made for the First Fleet Re-enactment Voyage with a facsimile of receipt of sale and facsimile of correspondence between the First Fleet Re-enactment Committee and Rolex

40mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed

CHF10,000 - 20,000 

Sold for CHF30,000

Contact Specialist
Alexandre Ghotbi
Head of Watches, Continental Europe and the Middle East
+ 41 79 637 1724

The Geneva Watch Auction: X

Geneva Auction 9-10 November 2019