A rare, attractive and exceptionally well-preserved stainless steel wristwatch with "bamboo" bracelet

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  • Condition Report

  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1935
    Case No: 54'408
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Manual, cal 8''3/4, 17 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel "Bamboo" bracelet, max length 225mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel integrated clasp
    Dimensions: 31mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed, dial further signed Beyer

  • Catalogue Essay

    The early Rolex Oyster can be considered a true unsung hero of modern watch collecting. While extremely popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s, nowadays the Rolex spotlight is usually taken by sports models. The consequence is that incredible gems such as the present piece can be acquired - the rare instances when they appear on the market - at very attractive values.

    The present watch in fact incapsulates both technical and aesthetic aspects which truly define the model and the period. An extremely early example dating to the 1930s, its dial fully reflects the fashion of the time: a subtle balance between the flamboyances of the 1920s (echoed by the three-tone dial, vaguely sectorial dial) and the formalism of the 1940s (present in the highly geometric and nearly militaristic disposition of the hour numerals: four longer indexes at the cardinal points, each separated by two shorter ones). The railway minute divisions are the final touch. The presence of the Beyer signature grants an additional boost to the charisma of this outstanding creation.

    On the technical side, the present watch was - at the time - at the pinnacle of case construction: it was only the previous decade that Rolex had patented the Oyster waterproof case, and so they held worldwide exclusivity on such a case architecture. Intriguingly, it is very far from the more modern two-piece Oyster cases collectors are familiar with. This is a three-piece case: one piece consists in the bezel sitting on top of a grooved cylinder into which the movement is affixed. The grooved cylinder slides into the frame of the case (second piece) and the back (third piece) is screwed on it until it is blocked by the frame. A hole is drilled into the side of the cylinder to allow for the crown stem to pass through and into the movement; the pressure exerted onto the frame by the screwed bezel/back ensemble ensures water does not penetrate into it.

  • Maker Bio

    Rolex

    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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Rolex

A rare, attractive and exceptionally well-preserved stainless steel wristwatch with "bamboo" bracelet

Circa 1935
31mm Diameter
Case, dial and movement signed, dial further signed Beyer

Estimate
CHF4,000 - 8,000 
€3,700-7,400
$4,000-8,100

Place Advance Bid
Contact Specialist
Virginie Liatard-Roessli
Specialist, Head of Sale
+41 76 338 91 03
vliatard@phillips.com

Double Signed: A Celebration of the Finest Partnerships Between Manufacturers and Retailers

Geneva Auction 9 November 2019