Rolex - Rolex Milestones: 38 Legendary Watches That Shaped History Hong Kong Sunday, November 27, 2016 | Phillips
  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1953
    Reference No: 4645
    Case No: 897’662
    Material: 18k yellow gold
    Calibre: Automatic, 17 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: 18k yellow gold Rolex bracelet, 178 mm. maximum length
    Clasp/Buckle: 18k yellow gold Rolex folding deployant clasp
    Dimensions: 31 mm. width
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed
    Literature: The present watch is prominently illustrated in Collezionare Orologi da Polso by Madeleine and Osvaldo Patrizzi, page 108.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Rolex has long reserved its finest, and most outstanding work for its most exclusive clients. On top of the firm’s landmark models, Rolex is gifted at conceiving the very best cloisonné enamel designs. Particularly during the 1940s and 1950s, Rolex commissioned the esteemed dial maker Stern Frères, to realize its vision.

    Founded in 1868 by brothers Charles and Jean Stern, Stern Frères is best known for creating beautiful cloisonné enamel dials, ranging from characters of mythical lore, to maps of the continents and beyond.

    To bring an enamel painting to life, the cloisons are painstakingly molded and hammered to the shape of the artisan’s desire. This process is technically extremely difficult because gold wire requires a delicate and meticulous handling. The cloisons are subsequently filled with enamel paste and successively fired in a kiln.

    Due to the immense difficulty and high cost in creating cloisonné enamel masterpieces, Rolex commissioned Stern Frères to create very few dials.

    John Goldberger's Opinion

    This stunning cloisonné enamel dial features Neptune riding the sea, proudly grasping his trident and pulled by sea horses. Rendered in polychrome cloisonné enamel, the shimmering, yet translucent blues and greens of the water blend seamlessly together, contrasting against the vibrant deity. Each brushstroke is exceptionally captivating, and the yellow gold numerals draw attention to the masterpiece illustrated in these pages, urging the viewer to marvel at each detail.

    The back of the dial is correctly stamped with Stern Frères numbers. The first three numbers, 103, denote Stern’s client code for Rolex. The star represents Stern Frères, and the following numbers 758 represent the order number, which is confirmed in the Stern archives as being commissioned for a ‘Neptune’ theme and created by famous enameller Mrs. Nelly Richard.

    This watch is accompanied with a luxurious and very heavy bracelet, adding another element of delight. The case back is further stamped, to the best of our knowledge, with Dublin import hallmarks for 1954. Research suggests that no other square-shaped enamel dial depicting Neptune has ever graced the market, leading us to believe the present was a unique piece for one of Rolex’s most influential clients.

  • 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. 4645
A highly rare, possibly unique and exceptional yellow gold square wristwatch with cloisonné enamel dial depicting Neptune and heavy bracelet

Circa 1953
31 mm. width
Case, dial and movement signed

HK$4,000,000 - 8,000,000 

Sold for HK$5,840,000

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