Rolex - Phillips & Blackbird: SPORTS Hong Kong Sunday, May 26, 2019 | Phillips
  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: 1958
    Reference No: 6538, repeated inside caseback with IV.1958
    Movement No: N824’378
    Case No: 426’222
    Model Name: Submariner, “Big Crown”
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1030, 25 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex bracelet, endlinks stamped 65, max length 195 mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex “Big Logo” deployant clasp
    Dimensions: 37.5 mm diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed
    Literature: For another example of a reference 6538, please see 100 Superlative Rolex Watches by John Goldberger, pp. 206 to 209

  • Catalogue Essay

    Extraordinary, exemplary and exquisite — these are but a few of the many expressions which can be used to describe this ref. 6538 from 1958. Most fascinatingly, the present watch is not only all original with the correct dial, bezel and winding crown, it is also wisely preserved in an absolutely stunning condition. The watch is, indisputably, a grail-level “Big Crown” Submariner for connoisseurs in terms of its quality, historical relevance, and fine aesthetics.

    The pantheon of James Bond movies epitomizes some of the greatest films in the history of motion pictures. The charismatic mien and action of the British secret agent, and his witticism to deliver a clever barb in the face of his enemies, were all qualities that we admired — and still do. Even though many vintage Rolex Submariners are being referred to as “James Bond” watches, only the ref. 6538 with big crown has really been worn by James Bond in movies including Dr. No (1962), From Russia with Love (1963), and Goldfinger (1964), led by the legendary Sean Connery.

    It would not be an overstatement to call the present watch a masterpiece for the wrist. The awe-inspiring black lacquer dial is beautifully preserved, and has developed some extremely gorgeous spider-lines which bestow upon the watch a spectacular appearance. Exceptionally, the luster of the black lacquer dial is still superbly sleek, further underscored by the cream-colored Radium indexes and hands. The Radium lumes have puffed up evenly, and read very strongly under the Geiger counter. Furthermore, four lines on the dial make a collector’s dream come true: while a large portion of earlier examples only featured two lines, "200m = 660ft" and "SUBMARINER". The present watch further displays two additional lines "OFFICIALLY CERTIFIED, CHRONOMETER".

    Dubbed by collector as “Big Crown”, the iconic enlarged winding crown is preserved in exceptionally incredible condition. Most impressively, the bezel insert is by all means beautiful. The bright red triangle is gorgeously retained, and the pearl atop is most miraculously kept. The watch is furthermore fitted with finely-preserved stainless steel “Big Logo” bracelet. Intriguingly, the watch was 22’000 case numbers away from another example which was sold at The Geneva Watch Auction: FOUR in November 2016 for CHF562,000.

  • 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.

    View More Works


Ref. 6538, repeated inside caseback with IV.1958
An incredibly rare and highly attractive stainless steel wristwatch with sweep center seconds, black lacquer “four liner” dial, big crown and big logo bracelet

37.5 mm diameter
Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed

HK$3,200,000 - 6,200,000 

Sold for HK$6,030,000

Contact Specialist

Thomas Perazzi
Head of Watches, Asia
+852 2318 2001

Phillips & Blackbird: SPORTS

Hong Kong Auction 27 May 2019