An extremely rare, very attractive, and well-preserved stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with blue pulsometer scale

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1963
    Reference No: 6238
    Case No: 964’698
    Model Name: Pre-Daytona
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Manual, cal. 722, 17 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Leather; accompanied by later stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel
    Dimensions: 36mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, and movement signed; movement additionally stamped “ROW”
    Literature: For similar examples of a reference 6238 with pulsometer scale, please see 100 Superlative Rolex Watches by John Goldberger, pp. 136-137 or Pucci Papaleo’s I Cronografi Rolex: La Leggenda, pp. 284-285.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Some watches are of such extreme rarity that the majority of collectors and enthusiasts are barely aware of their existence. To catch one of these “in the wild” is a triumph; to be able to hold and examine it, a privilege. Such is the case with the present stainless steel “Pre-Daytona”. Though the reference 6238 is often found with a stainless steel case and a silvered dial, it is almost never seen with the vivid blue pulsometer scale found in the present example. These watches were specialized for the medical field, as the pulsometer scale is meant to measure heart beats per minute and can be found on some of Rolex’s earliest chronographs. The pulsometer scale is a prestigious and uncommon calibration found on the dials of chronograph watches designed for medical professionals. A doctor would start the chronograph function, and stop it based on the number of heart beats counted as indicated on the scale, in this particular example 15. The stopped chronograph hand would indicate the exact number of heart beats per minute on the pulsometer scale.

    To our knowledge, the current 6238 is only the second publicly known Pre-Daytona (the other is proudly photographed and catalogued in John Goldberger’s 100 Superlative Rolex Watches) and is the first to appear at auction in recent memory. This watch was purchased by the consignor over two decades ago from the original owner and has remained unused ever since.

    Rolex was known to produce chronographs with pulsometer scales, both before and after the era of the Pre-Daytona. The most famous of the Rolex chronographs with pulsations scale are the “medical” Cosmograph Daytonas - pump-pusher Daytonas with pulsometer scales of which about ten are known to exist. Indeed, as the decades of the twentieth century passed, the scales on the dials of Rolex chronographs became more uniform, developing from the artistry of the 1920s through 1950s to the more sporty and casual tone of the 1960s and 1970s. The present watch can be seen as a bridge between these two styles.

    Discerning collectors will notice the narrow -T SWISS T- at the bottom of the dial typical of this era of 6238s, as well as the ROW printed on the movement, indicating the watch was made for the American market. Fantastically preserved, exceptionally rare, and beautifully proportioned, this watch ticks all the boxes for the collector of important vintage Rolex chroographs

  • Maker Bio

    Rolex

    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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21

Rolex

Ref. 6238
An extremely rare, very attractive, and well-preserved stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with blue pulsometer scale

Circa 1963
36mm Diameter
Case, dial, and movement signed; movement additionally stamped “ROW”

Estimate
$120,000 - 240,000 
CHF120,000-239,000
€109,000-218,000
HK$940,000-1,880,000

sold for $175,000

Contact Specialist
Paul Boutros
Head of Watches, Americas & International Strategy Advisor
Senior Vice President
+1 212 940 1293
pboutros@phillips.com

GAME CHANGERS

New York Auction 10 December 2019