Rolex - The New York Watch Auction: SEVEN New York Saturday, December 10, 2022 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1946
    Reference No: 3131
    Movement No: 20’915
    Case No: 412’931
    Model Name: “Bubbleback”
    Material: 14K yellow gold
    Calibre: Automatic, 9 3/4''', 17 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Leather
    Clasp/Buckle: Gold-plated Rolex pin buckle
    Dimensions: 32mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement, and buckle signed.
    Accessories: Accompanied by original Rolex hangtag with handwritten serial number.

  • Catalogue Essay

    While the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is often credited with spawning the modern phenomenon of watch collecting, it was really the Rolex “Bubbleback” that could be considered one of the first “hype” watches. During the 1990s and 2000s, collectors were all about these early Oyster Perpetuals with features such as hooded lugs and slightly rounded casebacks to accommodate the early automatic movements that gave them their nickname. Luckily, in the two decades of its production, Rolex had experimented with a great deal of dial variations and case metals when it came to their Oyster Perpetuals, giving collectors a variety of options to choose from – both then and now.

    As with any collectible item, those preserved in the highest echelons of condition are most desired by collectors. The present reference 3131 is one such piece, in crisp and original condition and fitted with not only a period-correct buckle, but likely the original hangtag from the 1940s with the handwritten serial number still attached and depicting a delightful scene of palm trees.

    Watches such as this delightful 1940s Bubbleback, in 14K yellow gold and likely made for the American market, prove that there are still innumerable treasures to discover in the world of vintage watch collecting, at all price points and wherever one may be on their collecting journey.

  • 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. 3131
An exceptionally well-preserved and highly charming 14K yellow gold chronometer wristwatch with center seconds and hang tag

Circa 1946
32mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement, and buckle signed.

$8,000 - 16,000 

Sold for $18,900

Contact Specialist

Paul Boutros

Head of Watches, Americas

+1 (212) 940-1293


Isabella Proia

Head of Sale, New York

+1 (212) 940 1285


The New York Watch Auction: SEVEN

New York Auction 10 - 11 December 2022