Rolex - The Hong Kong Watch Auction: FOUR Hong Kong Monday, May 29, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1942
    Reference No: 3890
    Case No: 181'271
    Model Name: Zerographe
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Mechanical, 10 ½’’’, 17 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet, 160 mm. maximum length
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex folding deployant clasp stamped 3.56
    Dimensions: 30.5 mm. diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed

  • Catalogue Essay

    The Zerographe is the most elusive chronograph wristwatch ever produced by Rolex. So mythical is the model, that a simple search through literature or the internet hardly yields concrete results. Further adding to the mystery is the fact that there is no period advertising for the model.

    Yet, investigative research shows that Rolex produced Oyster chronograph models starting from 1937, housing a 10 ½ lines sweep seconds movement with a “return to zero”, or flyback mechanism, thus inspiring the model’s name Zerographe.

    We were thus absolutely astounded when not one, but two previously unknown Zerographes recently surfaced on the market. This spectacular discovery is nothing short of extraordinary, and Phillips is humbled and honored to reunite two examples of reference 3890, cased 87 numbers apart, both of which are completely fresh to the market.

    According to research, only one other Zerographe with a flat bezel, or reference 3890, has appeared on the market, enhancing these watch’s unparalleled and unequivocal rarity.

    What truly sets both examples apart is their factory-new state of preservation. The fact is truly astounding, when one not only considers the age, but also the condition of both watches. The term “new old stock” is the only appropriate adjective to use when describing these wristwatches.

    Both dials are preserved in immaculate condition thanks to the watch’s Oyster case. Most surviving examples have developed a thin layer of yellow patina on the dial due to age and exposure to the elements. These dials are free of imperfections, and all enamel printing is raised and strong, having been thoroughly protected throughout its lifespan.

    The cases, too, are completely astounding, featuring all original Rolex factory finishes. Retaining their original Rolex Oyster crown, there is barely any surface wear, and all crisp finishes are present. Even part of the greenish blue original sticker remains, covering the outside case back which bears crisp, legible and untouched serial numbers. The inside case back bears no service marks, further proving that the watches have never seen outside intervention.

    The Zerographe is truly the genesis of Rolex’s Oyster chronographs. Starting with the Zerographe, we are today graced with many variants of the Rolex Oyster chronograph, from the “Calatrava” style reference 4048, to the universally beloved Cosmograph Daytona.

    It is not every day that two milestones grace us with their presence, and there is no telling when even one will ever appear on the market ever again.

    This example is distinguished by its flat bezel and enamel telemeter scale. Featuring a "chemin de fer" or railway track, the dial design showcases the beauty of chronograph watches manufactured in the 1930s. Free of visible imperfections, it is among the most impressive Zerographes to grace the market thus far. Further enhancing the watch is its factory new state of preservation.

  • 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. 3890
A highly rare and historically important stainless steel single-button continuous fly-back chronograph wristwatch with bracelet

Circa 1942
30.5 mm. diameter
Case, dial and movement signed

HK$1,200,000 - 2,000,000 

Contact Specialist

Thomas Perazzi
Head of Watches, Asia
+852 2318 2001

Ziyong Ho
+852 9386 2032

Jill Chen
+852 2318 2033

The Hong Kong Watch Auction: FOUR

Hong Kong Auction 30 May 2017