Rolex - Phillips & Blackbird: SPORTS Hong Kong Sunday, May 26, 2019 | Phillips
  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1972
    Reference No: 1655, caseback stamped II.72
    Movement No: D276’210
    Case No: 3’181’610
    Model Name: Explorer II
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1570, 26 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet stamped 78360, endlinks stamped 580, max length 190 mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster deployant clasp stamped N4 & 78360
    Dimensions: 39 mm diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and clasp signed
    Accessories: With Rolex guarantee booklet dated May 25, 1976, Rolex green leather presentation box, Rolex service guarantee dated October 20, 1995, Rolex sales tag, hang tag, product literature, original receipt and outer packaging

  • Catalogue Essay

    As astronaut Frank Borman eloquently said, “Exploration is the essence of the human spirit.” However, every expedition requires top-notch and dependable tools to accompany the adventurers for a safe and sound journey. The Rolex Explorer II model was designed to be the most intimate and reliable device to any adventurer.

    One of the most idiosyncratic features of the watch is its oversized 24-hour hand and calibrated bezel, which is fixed and not meant to be a GMT function. To understand the design of the Explorer II we need to go deep — deep underground and into the earth’s most obscure caves, like true archaeologists. Often working in environments without daylight, the archaeologist’s job can become immensely disorientating, especially when one loses track of time.

    While functionally unbeatable, However, the Rolex Explorer II was also assured a famous spot in the history of horology when Steve McQueen wore one during his life time. In fact, this model is colloquially known as the “Steve McQueen” watch. The present lot is a well-preserved and early example, featuring all the correct elements of first generation examples of the reference that are very coveted by aficionados – straight seconds hand, Mark II bezel, and Mark I dial.

  • 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. 1655, caseback stamped II.72
A well-preserved and rare stainless steel wristwatch with 24-hour indication, date, bracelet, guarantee, box and hang tags

Circa 1972
39 mm diameter
Case, dial, movement and clasp signed

HK$120,000 - 200,000 

Sold for HK$275,000

Contact Specialist

Thomas Perazzi
Head of Watches, Asia
+852 2318 2001

Phillips & Blackbird: SPORTS

Hong Kong Auction 27 May 2019