Rolex - The Geneva Watch Auction: XVIII Geneva Friday, November 3, 2023 | Phillips
  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1970
    Movement No: DD13228
    Model Name: Day-Date
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1555, 25 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Leather
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex pin buckle
    Dimensions: 36mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed

  • Catalogue Essay

    The Day-Date was, at the time of its launch, somewhat of an exception for Rolex. The company had carved itself a name as the world’s foremost supplier of technical timepieces - most famously, pioneering waterproof cases and automatic movements - but it was much less recognised (ironically one might say, considering how different the situation is today) from the point of view of luxury timepieces. A first “breakthrough” of sorts came with the launch of the Datejust in 1947, a model based on previous “Big Bubble Back” pieces which blended the technical ethos of Rolex with a more luxurious spirit, and indeed was cased in gold. Following the success of the Datejust, in 1957 the Day-Date was launched. It will go on to become one of the most easily recognisable luxury timepieces on the planet, worn by Heads of States, entrepreneurs and artists among many others. In order to underline the exclusivity of the model, Rolex decided to produce the Day-Date exclusively in precious metals: such “ban” on steel Day-Date models in fact remains in effect to this very day.

    As they say, however, there are exceptions to every rule, including the “no steel Day-Date” one. As it turns out, an absurdly restricted number of prototype/scholar pieces have in fact been made in stainless steel. One example (movement no. 0004547) is portrayed in John Goldberger’s Rolex “bible” 1000 Superlative Rolex Watches. Two more were sold by Phillips in 2018 (no. 0005073) and in 2019 (no. DD411420), and a fourth example (no. DD14749)appeared in this salesroom in November 2021. Another example (movement DD081221) is also known from the public market. They all bear no case number, the same as the present piece, indicating they were prototype pieces.

    This example belongs to this fascinating and absurdly scarce category of prototype pieces but it presents a peculiarity that sets it apart all the other specimens known: while the others feature a flat dial with either Roman or baton numerals, the present watch mounts a textured “linen effect” dial. A highly charming finish rarely employed by the brand - but seen on other similar pieces - not only it deeply modifies the aesthetic of the watch making it more subtle and elegant, but it also sets this example apart from the other ones known.

  • 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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An extremely unusual, scarce and collectible stainless steel calendar wristwatch prototype with center seconds, textured dial and luminous dots

Circa 1970
36mm Diameter
Case, dial and movement signed

CHF30,000 - 60,000 

Sold for CHF63,500

Contact Specialist

Alexandre Ghotbi
Deputy Chairman, Watches, Head of Watches, Europe, and Middle East

+41 79 637 17 24

Tiffany To
Head of Sale, Geneva

+41 79 460 55 88


The Geneva Watch Auction: XVIII

Geneva Auction 3 - 4 November 2023