Rolex - The Geneva Watch Auction: XII Geneva Saturday, November 7, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: circa 1958
    Reference No: 6538
    Movement No: N'815'711
    Case No: 383'885, caseback further stamped 1.1958
    Model Name: Submariner "Big Crown"
    Material: Stainless Steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1035, 25 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel expandable Rolex Oyster bracelet, max length 220mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex USA deployant clasp stamped I-69
    Dimensions: 37.5mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and clasp signed

  • Catalogue Essay

    Reference 6538 is forever immortalized onscreen, having accompanied Sean Connery’s James Bond on multiple secret missions. Bond’s gadget is most notably disguised as a "Big Crown" Submariner on films like Dr. No, From Russia with Love and Goldfinger. The agent's watch is fitted on different straps and equipped with different spying abilities. Consequently, reference 6538 is today also known as the "James Bond Submariner" to Rolex collectors and scholars.

    First launched in 1955, reference 6538 is incredibly desirable today due to its versatility, robust proportions and attractive appearance. The model was in production for four short years and is characterized by its black lacquer "Swiss"-signed dial, lack of crown guards and 8 millimeter crown hence belonging to the category of "Big Crown Submariner”, or “Coroncione” as they are known in Italy, a literal translation of Big Crown.

    The present example impresses thanks to its amazing state of preservation, thick lugs and crisp bevels. The dial has turned a superb and appealing mocca brown giving the watch even more charisma and personality.

  • 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. 6538
An extremely rare and well preserved automatic wristwatch with center seconds, mocca "tropical" dial and bracelet

circa 1958
37.5mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement and clasp signed

CHF100,000 - 200,000 

Sold for CHF166,320

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