Rolex - Racing Pulse New York Saturday, December 12, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1957
    Reference No: 6538; inside caseback stamped III.57
    Movement No: N724256
    Case No: 307’167
    Model Name: Submariner “James Bond Big Crown”
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1030, 25 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster extensible bracelet, endlinks stamped 65, max length 210mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex “Big Logo” deployant clasp, stamped 1.60
    Dimensions: 38mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement, and clasp signed.

  • Catalogue Essay

    First launched in 1955, the reference 6538 is incredibly desirable today due to its rarity, robust proportions, and good looks. The model was in production for four short years, and is characterized by its black lacquer “Swiss”- signed dial, lack of crown guards and oversized 8 millimeter crown, hence its nickname, “Big Crown Submariner”. Reference 6538 is forever immortalized onscreen, having accompanied Sean Connery’s James Bond on multiple secret missions. Bond’s chosen watch was a “Big Crown” Submariner on the films Dr. No, From Russia with Love, and Goldfinger. Consequently, reference 6538 is today also known as the “James Bond Submariner” to Rolex collectors and scholars. Furthermore, the reference 6538 was the first Submariner to be chronometer certified – though only a small number of the reference received chronometer certifications. The coveted “four-liner” dial reflects the designation, and are especially beloved by collectors due to their rarity when compared with non-chronometer, "two-liner" dial reference 6538 counterparts.

    Featuring its original “Big Crown”, the condition of the case is exceptional - unpolished and hardly worn, retaining its sharp and crisp lines, and factory original bevels. This example, manufactured in the third quarter of 1957, retains its period correct “Big Logo” extendable Oyster bracelet and rotatable bezel featuring the coveted red triangle at 12 o’clock. Beautifully preserved with attractive signs of aging, the dial’s surface remains glossy and vivid. The present Big Crown, only about a hundred serial numbers from two previously offered examples, is a superb, all original example of the reference.

  • 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.

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Ref. 6538; inside caseback stamped III.57
An extremely rare, fine, and attractive stainless steel diver’s wristwatch with black lacquer “four liner” dial, red triangle bezel, and bracelet

Circa 1957
38mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement, and clasp signed.

$100,000 - 200,000 

Sold for $226,800

Contact Specialist

Paul Boutros
Head of Watches, Americas & International Strategy Advisor
Senior Vice President
+1 212 940 1293

Racing Pulse

New York Auction 12 December 2020