Rolex - Rolex Milestones: 38 Legendary Watches That Shaped History Hong Kong Sunday, November 27, 2016 | Phillips
  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1938
    Reference No: 3372
    Movement No: 54’570
    Case No: 252’542
    Model Name: 'Bubble Back’
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, 9 3⁄4’’’, 17 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel bracelet, 190 mm. maximum length
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel folding deployant clasp stamped PERHI, Swiss Made
    Dimensions: 32 mm. diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed
    Literature: The present watch is illustrated in 100 Superlative Rolex Watches by John Goldberger, page 25.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Cased in an array of metals and fitted with a variety of dials, ‘bubble back’ watches were in production for over 22 years, from the early Thirties to the mid Fifties. For many years, the ‘bubble back’ wristwatch was Rolex’s best selling model.

    At the time of production, the ‘bubble back’ was officially named the ‘Oyster Perpetual’. The nickname ‘bubble back’ derived from the convex shape of the case back used to house the new automatic winding system, which replaced the mechanical mechanism.

    Reference 3372 was first introduced to the market in 1940. At the time of production, the model’s appearance was very unusual. The watch featured a 'machine' bezel, showcasing a threaded design that is still very appealing and eye catching today.

    John Goldberger's Opinion

    This ‘bubble back’ is wonderful. Given the popularity of the watch during its day, many surviving watches have been altered at some point, which makes original examples very rare.

    This watch is fitted with a completely original two-tone dial with Arabic 9-12-3 luminous numerals, and still retains original luminous to the hands. The case is particularly stunning, with crisp numbers behind the case back that would have disappeared with even the slightest of polishing. The lugs and case are full in their proportions. The bezel furthermore features deep threading, which is a defining characteristic of reference 3372. The Oyster crown is furthermore original to the watch, adding another element of delight.

  • 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. 3372
A highly rare and extremely attractive stainless steel wristwatch with two-tone dial and bracelet

Circa 1938
32 mm. diameter
Case, dial and movement signed

HK$80,000 - 160,000 

Sold for HK$125,000

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