Rolex - The Geneva Watch Auction: XVI Geneva Saturday, November 5, 2022 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1940
    Reference No: 3933
    Case No: 59'937
    Model Name: "Zerographe"
    Material: 18K yellow gold
    Calibre: Manual, cal. 10 ½’’’, 17 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Leather
    Clasp/Buckle: Gilt pin buckle
    Dimensions: 32mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed by maker, dial further signed by retailer
    Accessories: Accompanied by Beyer Extract from the Archives.

  • Catalogue Essay

    The Zerographe ref. 3346 is widely regarded as one of the most elusive and collectible Rolex wristwatches of all times. Considered the first Rolex chronograph cased in an Oyster case, it hardly ever appear at auction and on the rare occasions it does, it is the object of fierce battles in the auction room among the most prominent Rolex collectors.

    However, the present newly discovered timepiece goes well above and beyond the importance of a “normal Zerographe” (admittedly, an oxymoron if ever there was one), arriving to rewrite this part of the history of the brand. Bearing reference number 3933, the present watch appears to be a so far unknown “Zerographe” (sharing with it the same 10 and a half lignes calibre) albeit offered in a completely different dress. While ref. 3346 features a highly sporty stainless steel Oyster case, with a prominent revolving bezel, reference 3933 could be its diametric opposite. Cased in a subtle yellow gold case with stepped bezel and angular lugs, the dial features not only extremely attractive gilt numerals, but furthermore is co-signed by Zurich retailer “Beyer”. Underlining the absolute originality of the watch, Beyer has kindly produced an Extract from their Archives confirming the piece was indeed retailed by them.

    The one concession to the utilitarian nature of a chronograph is the railway minute divisions which imbue the aesthetics of the piece with a hint of pragmatism.

    Combining condition, looks, and paramount historical importance, the present watch is an absolute gem in the panorama of vintage watch collecting. Not only it represents one of the most scarce designs in the history of Rolex, but furthermore it subverts the so-far accepted assumption that Rolex fitted this movement only on professional watches.

  • 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. 3933
A potentially unique and extremely unusual yellow gold wristwatch with zero-reset mechanism, retailed by Beyer Zurich

Circa 1940
32mm Diameter
Case, dial and movement signed by maker, dial further signed by retailer

CHF25,000 - 50,000 

Sold for CHF138,600

Contact Specialist

Alexandre Ghotbi
Head of Watches, Continental Europe and the Middle East
+41 22 317 81 81

Tiffany To
Head of Sale, Geneva
+41 22 317 96 63

The Geneva Watch Auction: XVI

Geneva Auction 5 - 6 November 2022