Rolex - The Geneva Watch Auction: XIV Geneva Friday, November 5, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1998
    Reference No: 16618, case back stamped "16610" to the inside
    Movement No: 6'826'331
    Case No: S492383
    Model Name: Submariner, "Onyx Sub"
    Material: 18K yellow gold
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 3135, 31 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: 18K yellow gold Rolex Oyster extendable bracelet stamped "46B" to the endlinks, max length (unextended) 200mm
    Clasp/Buckle: 18K yellow gold Rolex Deployant clasp stamped "R11" and "92908"
    Dimensions: 40mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and clasp signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by Rolex punched Guarantee stamped by Grand Cayman retailer "Kirk Freeport Plaza Ltd." and dated January 1, 1998, Rolex, original invoice, "faux seal" hangtag, gilt anchor tag, fitted wooden presentation box and outer box labeled "RX16618, S492383, 92908, Onyx, US$ 17325.00". Furthermore delivered with Rolex service estimate dated May 25, 2007, Rolex Service invoice and service Guarantee card both dated June 3, 2013, one Rolex Consumer Service paper document holder and a Rolex envelope.

  • Catalogue Essay

    One of the most impressive features of Rolex is how it never shied away from experimenting with different dial (and to some extent case) materials, color and textures. Thus, some incredibly rare attractive and collectible timepieces have been created such as the “Stella” Day-Date, the white gold 6263 and 1680, the hard stone dials Zenith Daytonas, or the present Onyx dial 16618.

    So rare that the majority of the collecting community does not know it exists, this piece is indeed part of an enormously rarified production of reference 16618 with Onyx dial rather than the standard glossy black dial. The difference in the overall looks is subtle but undeniable once one knows what she or he is looking at, as peering at the polished onyx surface is like staring into a pool of solid darkness. There are also some other aesthetic differences with the normal model, such as slightly different fonts and most notably the gold rimming to the date aperture - amusingly, a similar “hint” is currently employed by Patek Philippe on the green dial Nautilus.
    Given the difficulty of realising the Onyx dial, the price of the watch was substantially higher than its non-onyx dial peer (while a standard 16618 was priced at around US$ 10’000, according to the invoice and box of the present watch, the onyx dial version demanded US$ 17'325 - at least in Grand Cayman) which doubtlessly played a part in the restricted output of this model.

    While the aesthetic impact and absolute rarity - and the overall condition - of the watch would already be enough to classify this piece as one of the most collectable modern Submariners, the presence of the full set of accessories - down to the original purchase invoice and even a 2013 service invoice - not only further amplifies the appeal of the watch, but it even dispels any possible doubt about the originality of this dial to this case: the outer packaging in fact bears a label with the reference number of the watch, the serial number of the case, the price and one single, unmistakable word: “Onyx”.

  • 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. 16618, case back stamped "16610" to the inside
A sublime and hardly ever seen yellow gold automatic diver's wristwatch with center seconds, date, onyx dial, bracelet, guarantee and box

Circa 1998
40mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement and clasp signed

CHF30,000 - 50,000 

Sold for CHF163,800

Contact Specialist

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

The Geneva Watch Auction: XIV

Geneva Auction 5 & 7 November 2021