Rolex - WINNING ICONS – Legendary Watches of the 20th Century New York Thursday, October 26, 2017 | Phillips
  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: 1954
    Reference No: 6200
    Movement No: 37’197
    Case No: 32’215
    Model Name: Submariner ‘Big Crown’
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, A296
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel riveted Rolex Oyster bracelet, numbered 7206, end links numbered 80, max. length 190mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel deployant clasp, stamped 2 59
    Dimensions: 37mm diameter
    Accessories: Original presentation box, outer packaging, and hang tags.

  • Catalogue Essay

    In 1954, Rolex introduced the iconic Submariner wristwatch, with three models released that same year. The references 6204 and 6205 were water resistant to a depth of 100 meters, and the more robust reference 6200 was designed for professional divers, offering water resistance to a depth of 200 meters. Collectors affectionately refer to these early Submariners as the “Big Crown”, due to their oversized, 8-millimeter “Brevet” crowns that enabled the model’s cutting edge water resistance. This stunning reference 6200 is fresh to the auction market and one of a very few examples of the reference to ever appear at auction. It features the extremely rare and coveted “Explorer” 3-6-9 dial that epitomizes this very first generation model, lacking both the Submariner signature and depth rating. Rolex used the 3-6-9 dial configuration, inspired from their earlier Explorer reference 6298 and 6150 models, giving the watch a distinctive look, with a shorter triangle at the 12 o’clock position. A first series “Big Crown” with its wide beveled lugs, long hour hand, and lollipop seconds hand, the iconic reference 6200 is one of the most desirable and collectible of all vintage sport watches.

    The watch has a masculine sporty appeal, and its well-proportioned case is enhanced by its early “bubbleback”-style case fitted with the Rolex caliber A296. These early Submariners feature a rotating bezel without minute markers, and the reference 6200, along with the 6205, were the first models to use the now well-known “Mercedes” style hands. Collectors speak of “grail” watches, and the reference 6200 is one such watch. Production numbers were extremely limited and their serial numbers range from 31.9xx to around 32.2xx. The condition of the present watch is extraordinary, preserved in original condition, with a gilt dial that retains its charismatic glossy surface. The breathtaking condition of the case, with its totally unpolished and hardly worn state of preservation, sharp crisp lines, and factory original bevels, make it one of the finest examples to ever appear at auction. A rare treasure that would certainly be the crown jewel of a Rolex sports watch collection, but also an ultimate trophy watch for a collection spanning icons of horology.

  • 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. 6200
An extremely rare, important, and early stainless steel wristwatch with black glossy Explorer dial, gilt hands, presentation box, and hangtags.

Case, dial, and movement signed
37mm diameter

$250,000 - 500,000 

Sold for $579,000

Contact Specialist
Paul Boutros
Head of Watches, Americas
+1 212 940 1293

WINNING ICONS – Legendary Watches of the 20th Century

New York Auction 26 October 2017