Rolex - Rolex Milestones: 38 Legendary Watches That Shaped History Hong Kong Sunday, November 27, 2016 | Phillips
  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1979
    Reference No: 1655
    Movement No: D613968
    Case No: 6'368'839
    Model Name: Explorer II, "Steve McQueen"
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, 1570, 26 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet, ref. 78360, 180 mm. maximum length, end links stamped 580
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex folding deployant clasp
    Dimensions: 37 mm. diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed
    Accessories: With Rolex guarantee dated 16 April 1981, service receipt dated 6 October 1998, product literature, wallet, sales tag, fitted presentation box and outer packaging.
    Literature: For another stainless steel reference 1655 example, please see the 100 Superlative Rolex Watches App, by John Goldberger.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Rolex launched the Explorer II in 1971, which provided a fresh update to the existing ‘Explorer’ line. Designed as a versatile aide for intrepid explorers, the bright orange luminous 24-hour triangle tipped hand glowed under any light condition.

    Due to a limited market for such specialized timepieces, very few examples were sold. Reference 1655 is thus particularly rare, especially when compared to other Rolex sports watches. Interestingly, reference 1655 is also known as the ‘Steve McQueen’. While there is no concrete evidence confirming the actor ever wore this watch, legend becomes fact, and the wristwatch is now playfully named after the icon.

    John Goldberger's Opinion

    I am most pleased by the splendid condition of this watch. Featuring crisp bevels, milled finish to the lugs and sharp bezel, the watch is also complete with all its original accessories.

    The present watch is fitted with a Mk 4 dial, which is correct for the serial range. The dial features a 'T Swiss <25 T' designation underneath 6 o’clock, instead of 'T Swiss T', which was printed on earlier generations. The numerals have furthermore aged with warm orange patina, which match the hands and seconds lollipop. The Rolex coronet is also longer, and the base of the coronet is slightly rounder in shape. The watch features a correct later-generation seconds hand with luminous lollipop.

  • 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
An attractive dual time stainless steel wristwatch with sweep center seconds, date, bracelet, original guarantee and fitted presentation box

Circa 1979
37 mm. diameter
Case, dial and movement signed

HK$80,000 - 160,000 

Sold for HK$250,000

Contact Specialist

Thomas Perazzi
International Department Head
+85 26 773 93 15

Rolex Milestones: 38 Legendary Watches That Shaped History

Hong Kong Auction 28 November 2016