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

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    Rolex, Ref. 8171

    Geneva Watch Auction X, 9-10 November 2019

  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1950
    Reference No: 8171
    Movement No: 56'948
    Case No: 1'977'074
    Model Name: "Padellone"
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. A295, 18 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Leather
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex buckle
    Dimensions: 38mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and buckle signed
    Literature: The present watch is prominently illustrated in 100 Superlative Rolex Watches by John Goldberger, page 76 and 77.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Reference 8171 is lovingly dubbed "Padellone", which translates to "large frying pan" in Italian. Boasting a generous 38 mm case, it is slightly larger than its waterproof Oyster sibling, reference 6062. Both references 8171 and 6062 were the only two vintage Rolex models with moonphases, giving them a mythical reputation and cult-like following. Produced for a very short period of time in the early 1950s, reference 8171 and 6062 were available in yellow gold, pink gold, and stainless steel.

    Known to the market for over nearly thirty years, this reference 8171 comes up in conversation amongst cognoscenti, dealers and collectors alike, when asked to identify one of the most impressive Padellones in existence. Simply put, it represents the benchmark in terms of condition, factory finish and aesthetics when it comes to the steel version of this iconic triple calendar model. Throughout the last thirty years, it has been in three of the world's greatest private watch collections and on each occasion when offered at auction, it is has been welcomed with enthusiasm by the collecting community and set benchmark prices for this reference. It was also, amongst the dozens of submissions and proposals, chosen by John Goldberger when picking the final selection for his standard-setting book 100 Superlative Rolex Watches.

    Now offered at auction for the fourth time in thirty years, having been in one of the world’s most curated and secluded private collection of steel wristwatches, it is not only a treat for the eye, but also a noteworthy study for any scholar in analyzing the most minute details and case finishes.

    Even though every noteworthy scholar has had an opportunity to admire this piece, one fascinating and beautiful mystery remains - that is, for whom and when this piece was made. Was it a special order in the late 1960s for an exhibition? That would be a plausible explanation both for its exceptional serial number and equally exceptional condition. Or was it never sold in the early 1950s due to a wrongly numbered caseback? Regardless of one’s personal belief, the watch is a gem to enter as part of a collection of crown jewels.

    Reference 8171 has been made in three case metals, and an incredible number of dial variants are known – the steel version is predominantly known with a grené finish dial, but, like the luxury version cased in precious metal, also a small number have been fitted with the most attractive lacquer dial version. This dial's two-tone color scheme benefits from, and is enhanced by the lacquer finish.

    Forever preserved in literature, the present watch is prominently illustrated in 100 Superlative Rolex Watches by John Goldberger, page 76 and 77.

    To acquire a reference 8171 is a dream for many collectors today. Yet, to offer one preserved in unpolished condition with an immaculate dial, is positively unheard of. It is unimaginable when a white whale of watch collecting comes to the market, and it is with great certainty that another will not appear soon.

  • 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. 8171
A large, attractive and exceptionally well-preserved stainless steel triple calendar wristwatch with moonphases and two-tone dial

Circa 1950
38mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement and buckle signed

CHF500,000 - 1,000,000 

Sold for CHF1,028,000

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