Rolex - Rolex Milestones: 38 Legendary Watches That Shaped History Hong Kong Sunday, November 27, 2016 | Phillips
  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1958
    Reference No: 6538, inside case back stamped I V. 1958
    Movement No: DN781367
    Case No: 426’417
    Model Name: Submariner
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, 1030, 25 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet, 187 mm. maximum length
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex C&I folding deployant clasp stamped 76
    Dimensions: 37.5 mm. diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed
    Literature: For another example of a reference 6538 with ‘Big Crown’, please see 100 Superlative Rolex Watches by John Goldberger, page 185.

  • Catalogue Essay

    First released in 1955, reference 6538 is one of the most desirable Submariner models today, due to its versatility, rarity and good looks. In production for four years only, reference 6538 is instantly recognizable, and characterized by its black lacquer ‘Swiss’ dial, lack of crown guards and 8 millimeter Brevet ‘big’ crown. Some examples, such are the present watch, were chronometer certified, and thus displayed ‘Officially Certified Chronometer’ on the dial, in addition to the depth rating. These ‘four liner’ dials are especially rare and sought after today.

    Reference 6538 is immortalized on film, having accompanied Sean Connery’s James Bond on multiple secret missions. Bond’s gadget is disguised as a ‘Big Crown’ Submariner, which is equipped with different spying abilities. Reference 6538 is today known as the ‘James Bond Submariner’ in the collecting community.

    John Goldberger's Opinion

    This ‘Big Crown’ with ROW movement is among the very last produced. The watch sports an original black lacquer ‘Swiss’ dial that has turned subtly ‘tropical’ with age, displaying a chocolate brown color. The graphics are vibrant and the gilt and silver combination is a nice touch. The intact luminous round plots exhibit an orange patina. The luminous index at 6 o’clock is slightly brighter than the rest, which is correct.

    The case has been preserved wonderfully and retains its beveled edges. Tool watches were initially considered ‘everyday’ items, rather than ‘precious’ watches. In fact, it was common for their owners to wear and polish them frequently. To find one in such original condition is delightful.

  • 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, inside case back stamped I V. 1958
A very rare and highly attractive stainless steel wristwatch with sweep center seconds, ‘tropical’ lacquer ‘four liner’ dial, big crown and bracelet

Circa 1958
37.5 mm. diameter
Case, dial and movement signed

HK$800,000 - 1,600,000 

Sold for HK$1,312,500

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Rolex Milestones: 38 Legendary Watches That Shaped History

Hong Kong Auction 28 November 2016