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Details & Cataloguing

Important Watches

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Geneva

Rolex
'FOUR LINE BIG CROWN' SUBMARINER, REF 6538 STAINLESS STEEL WRISTWATCH WITH TROPICAL DIAL CIRCA 1959
Dial: black lacquer
Calibre: cal. 1030 automatic, 25 jewels
Movement number: N'856'604
Case: stainless steel Oyster, screw-down crown and back
Case number: 449'050
Closure: stainless steel Rolex buckle
Dimensions: 38mm
Signed: case, dial and movement
Accessories: none
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Catalogue Note

In the world of vintage watches the most minute of details can make a vast difference in the collectability of a piece. While the majority of the top tier watches display one or two characteristics that set them apart from the rest, it is rare to find examples that combine so many of the attributes that collectors covet, such as those to be found in the present lot for example.

The watch above, the Rolex reference 6538 Big Crown Submariner, typifies the desires of today’s market. Produced from 1955, the 6538 became a new member in what was to become the most famous lineage of wristwatches ever made. This particular example, stamped ‘II.59’ to the inside case back, was manufactured in the second quarter of 1959, interestingly the same year the model was discontinued.

The reference, as its nickname suggests, is famous for its iconic 8mm Brevet crown, un-flanked by crown guards, making it instantly recognisable as a vintage reference and yet easily discernible from the other iterations of Submariner to which it was successor. It is set apart also by its slightly thinner case, made possible by the introduction of a new calibre, calibre 1030. Its fame was further increased by its appearance on the wrist of Sean Connery in the first James Bond blockbuster, Dr No. It would seem then that very little could be done to boost the desirability of such a watch, but this piece manages to do just that.

Originally gloss black, the dial has with age, helped along no doubt by the sun and the presence of Radium, taken on a brown patina of varying shades; darker towards the outermost edge, fading then to light and then finally darkening once more toward the centre. The effect is almost that of a halo that engulfs the indexes and follows the hands around the dial. In addition to this, the lacquer, once smooth, has cracked producing what is known by vintage watch enthusiasts as a ‘Spider Dial’. This name, alluding to the effect’s similarity with a cobweb, does less justice to this piece as the dial’s colour makes it more akin to a tobacco leaf; an arguably more fitting comparison and, perhaps, one far better suited to a watch donning the wrist of 007.

The dial is then further elevated by four lines of text, as opposed to the more common two, above the index at 6 o’clock –

What is more, the four lines utilise three different typefaces and, importantly, 3 different colours. The depth rating is printed in white, 'Submariner' is gilt (in the same fashion as the Rolex Coronet or the outer minute track) and the Officially Certified Chronometer printed in a grey hue.

Given the combination of the above features, the present lot is guaranteed to be revered by experienced collectors and novices alike. All in all the lot above offers an incredibly scarce opportunity to purchase a watch that is without question aesthetically unique and horologically important.

Retained in very original condition, with original insert, the case is retaining its beveled edges and is really a spectacular example.

Important Watches

|
Geneva