Rolex - Rolex Milestones: 38 Legendary Watches That Shaped History Hong Kong Sunday, November 27, 2016 | Phillips
  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1972
    Reference No: 5100
    Case No: 1007
    Model Name: 'Beta 21'
    Material: 18k yellow gold
    Calibre: Quartz, Beta 21
    Bracelet/Strap: 18k yellow gold Rolex bracelet, 170 mm. maximum length
    Clasp/Buckle: 18k yellow gold Rolex concealed folding deployant clasp stamped Rolex SA
    Dimensions: 39 mm. diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed
    Literature: For another example of a Rolex 'Beta 21' however cased in white gold with a 'Qaboos' siganture, please see 100 Superlative Rolex Watches by John Goldberger, page 163.

  • Catalogue Essay

    The ‘Beta 21’ movement was first created in 1969, and made its debut during Basel later that year. At the time, the Beta 21 was revolutionary as it was the most accurate quartz movement to be offered on the market, and accurate to 5 seconds per month. Due to the movement's large and bulky size, watchmakers soon developed their own in house movements and gradually moved away from the ‘Beta 21’.

    The reference 5100, or the ‘Beta 21’, is a landmark reference for a number of reasons. Launched in 1970, it was Rolex's first reference to carry a quartz movement. Rolex first produced 1000 units to test the ‘Beta 21’, and all examples were sold out before the watch even hit the market. The 'Beta 21' was also Rolex's first reference to feature a sapphire crystal and quick set date function – two key innovations and components that are used in Rolex's current line of production.

    John Goldberger's Opinion

    I think this watch is rather remarkable, as it is signed 'No. 1007' to the case back, and one of the very last examples ever made. Rolex quietly produced a very limited number of examples after releasing the first batch, attesting to the popularity and innovation of the reference.

    The case is preserved in excellent condition, with strong gold and hallmarks to the right band. The proportions can only be described as excellent, with sharp facets to each side of the case.
    Interestingly, two different kinds of bracelets were fitted to the ‘Beta 21’. The present example features the second-generation bracelet, which is correct for the late case number.

  • 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. 5100
A fine and very rare yellow gold tonneau-shaped wristwatch with sweep centre seconds, date and bracelet

Circa 1972
39 mm. diameter
Case, dial and movement signed

HK$80,000 - 160,000 

Sold for HK$143,750

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Rolex Milestones: 38 Legendary Watches That Shaped History

Hong Kong Auction 28 November 2016