Rolex - Rolex Milestones: 38 Legendary Watches That Shaped History Hong Kong Sunday, November 27, 2016 | Phillips
  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1978
    Reference No: 1625
    Movement No: D383981
    Case No: 5’232’338
    Model Name: ‘Thunderbird’ DateJust
    Material: 18k yellow gold
    Calibre: Automatic, 1570, 26 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: 18k yellow gold Rolex Jubilee bracelet, 195 mm. maximum length
    Clasp/Buckle: 18k yellow gold Rolex deployant clasp stamped A
    Dimensions: 36 mm. diameter
    Signed: With Rolex punched Garantie dated 2 December 1986, product literature, pouch, and fitted presentation box.

  • Catalogue Essay

    The rotating bezel has always been a landmark feature in Rolex’s production line, as a constant aid to divers, pilots and other technical-related professionals. While the Turn-O-Graph was the very first Rolex model to officially feature a rotating bezel, the reference ceased production after a few years due to its lack of popularity.

    Rolex merged the ‘Turn-O-Graph’ with the ‘DateJust’ in 1954 with reference 6309. The model was advertised with images of the U.S. Air Force acrobatic flying team, or ‘Group Number 3600 of Air Demonstration’. Reference 6309 and its successors adopted the namesake ‘Thunderbird’ after the flying team’s emblem. The present watch, reference 1625, is a later reinterpretation of the original ‘Thunderbird’, featuring an updated case shape and movement caliber.

    John Goldberger's Opinion

    The present watch, reference 1625, is most commonly cased in stainless steel or a steel and gold combination. The model was hardly cased in yellow gold only. Like the ‘Turn-O-Graph’, the ‘Thunderbird’ was not particularly commercially successful during its day, which makes the presence of this model very rare. This watch was sitting in the retailer’s stock for eight years before its subsequent sale on 2 December 1986.

    The present watch is complete with its original punched guarantee and fitted presentation box. It is also preserved in alluring condition, with sharp finishes and impeccable proportions to the case. I particularly like that the Jubilee bracelet is original to the watch, stamped ‘A’ for 1976.

  • 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. 1625
A highly rare and attractive yellow wristwatch with sweep center seconds, date, bracelet, revolving bezel, guarantee and fitted presentation box

Circa 1978
36 mm. diameter
With Rolex punched Garantie dated 2 December 1986, product literature, pouch, and fitted presentation box.

HK$80,000 - 160,000 

Sold for HK$106,250

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