Rolex - The Geneva Watch Auction: XII Geneva Saturday, November 7, 2020 | Phillips
  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1979
    Reference No: 1655
    Movement No: D'944'628
    Case No: 6'079'358
    Model Name: Explorer II, "Freccione"
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1570, 26 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet stamped "220" and "7836", max length 190mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex deployant clasp
    Dimensions: 38mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed

  • Catalogue Essay

    Rolex launched the Explorer II in 1971, which provided a fresh update to the existing ‘Explorer’ line. Designed as a versatile aide for intrepid explorers, the bright orange luminous 24-hour triangle tipped hand glowed under any light condition.

    Due to a limited market for such specialized timepieces, very few examples were sold. Reference 1655 is thus particularly rare, especially when compared to other Rolex sports watches. Interestingly, reference 1655 is also known as the ‘Steve McQueen’. While there is no concrete evidence confirming the actor ever wore this watch, legend becomes fact, and the wristwatch is now playfully named after the icon.

    Displaying a "Mk 4" dial which is correct for the serial number, the present watch is preserved in excellent condition with crisp edges and bevels. Furthermore, the dial has aged beautifully and now displays an strong and charismatic "pumpkin" patina - a detail that is highly sought after by collectors today.

  • 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. 1655
A rare and fine stainless steel automatic wristwatch with "pumpkin dial", center seconds, date, 24-hour indication and bracelet

Circa 1979
38mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed

CHF12,000 - 24,000 

Sold for CHF37,800

Contact Specialist

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

41 79 637 1724

The Geneva Watch Auction: XII

Geneva Auction 6 - 7 November 2020