Rolex - The Hong Kong Watch Auction: X Hong Kong Friday, July 10, 2020 | Phillips
  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1958
    Reference No: 6609
    Movement No: N710'823
    Case No: 355’605
    Model Name: DateJust, Turn-O-Graph, “Thunderbird”
    Material: Stainless steel and 18K white gold
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1065, 25 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Leather
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel pin buckle
    Dimensions: 36mm diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed

  • Catalogue Essay

    Rolex’s reference 6609 Turn-O-Graph “Thunderbird” was produced for a relatively short period between 1956 and 1959, and along with the reference 6309 was the next generation model featuring a rotating bezel and date wheel, replacing the original non-date reference 6202. Released prior to the famed Submariner, Explorer and GMT timepieces, the Turn-O-Graph was the first serialised watch with a rotating bezel. Calibrated to 60 minutes, the model was a tool watch that allowed business professionals to track time by adjusting the bezel. Today, the model flies under the radar compared to its early contemporaries, however it is a model with a well-deserved place in Rolex history, and is a watch with many iterations. The watch combined elegance dress watch with sports watch durability.

    The reference 6609 took on secondary name when it became closely related to the United States Air Force air demonstration team known as the “Thunderbirds”. Established in 1953, one pilot was so impressed with the design and capability of the watch, that the squadron teamed with Rolex who produced Turn-O-Graphs with the Thunderbird insignia of the squadron. Rolex capitalised on this relationship and the model was referenced as the Thunderbird in American advertising.

    The present reference 6609 is in stainless steel with an 18K white gold bezel, which has taken on a darker patina and contrasts beautifully with the stainless steel case. The clean and original black pie pan dial has lume that has aged well and is a light brown tone, perfectly matching the hands. Additionally, the watch features a roulette date wheel with alternating black and red numerals. Rolex produced the Thunderbird until 2011 when it was removed from their collection. This lovely example from the late 1950s is a wonderful distillation of the early history of the model, and sure to please Rolex connoisseurs.

  • 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. 6609
A rare and fine stainless steel wristwatch with center seconds, date and white gold rotating bezel

Circa 1958
36mm diameter
Case, dial and movement signed

HK$31,000 - 47,000 

Sold for HK$87,500

Contact Specialist

Thomas Perazzi

Head of Watches, Asia
+852 2318 2001


The Hong Kong Watch Auction: X

Hong Kong Auction 10 July 2020