Thursday, October 18, 2018



The paths are many, the way is one...

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Vintage Rolex Ad: Summer of Love Olympics

Summer Of Love Submariner
1968 Acapulco Summer Olympic Games
Stainless Steel Reference 5513

The Rolex add below is from the 1968 Summer Olympic Games which were held in Mexico City, Mexico. The boating events of the XIX Olympiad were held in Acapulco, Mexico, which is featured in the Rolex ad below.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Rolex World Time Pocket Watch

Rolex World Time Pocket Watch



When you think of World Time or Heures Universelles, you probably picture a Patek Philippe in front of your eye — certainly not a Rolex. The stunning Rolex World Time pocket watch you are about to experience is therefore even more incredible.

The World Time concept was the brainchild of Louis Cottier which he developed around 1930. Cottier offered his invention to a variety of Swiss watch brands but as the owner of the patent, he insisted on modifying the movements himself. This was the standard procedure from the very first prototype for Baszanger in 1930 until the very last piece he was working on, when he died at his bench in September 1966.

Cottier's World Time was in many ways a precursor to the Rolex GMT-Master. From 1948 onwards, Rolex developed their own interpretations of the World Time concept and patented a number of ideas.

Swiss watch brands who comissioned World Time watches with Cottier were the crème de la crème of the Swiss watch industry: Vacheron & Constantin, Patek Philippe, Agassiz, Wittnauer, and Rolex!

You heard it right, Rolex was also a client of Cottier, one of the very first actually. In 1931, Cottier developed three different jump hour prototypes for Rolex but it was not until 1943 Cottier created a micro-series of six Rolex World Time pocket watches. The movements were based on large Aegler-made calibers used by Rolex exclusively for officially certified chronometer pocket watches with the regal-sounding name of "Prince Imperial". Each modified by Louis Cottier himself.

The cases for these exclusive watches were made by Manufacture Favre & Perret SA in La-Chaux-de-Fonds and the exceptionally beautiful dials came from none other than the renowned dial specialist Stern Frères.

Apart from the initial six examples, Cottier made another batch of six examples in 1947/48. In total, 12 pieces were produced, making this one of the rarest Rolex references ever made. This information is based on Cottier's own documentation.

Until just recently, only three watches were known to exist. One from the 1943 batch and two from 1947.

A stunning fourth example has now surfaced and will be auctioned by Christie's on November 12, 2018, in Geneva. This watch belongs to the first batch from 1943. The pink gold pocket watch appears to be in an extraordinary condition.

Christie's Lot 139

Rolex World Time Pink Gold Pocket Watch

Reference: 4262
Dial: World Time (Istanbul misspelled)
Case number: 1010380

The intricate World Time Complication displays the time in featured cities around the world. It also shows whether it is day or night in the corresponding areas—demarkated by the light/dark chapter ring that revolves every 24 hours.

An interesting fact about the first batch is Rolex was not happy with the way "Instambul" was written. In a letter from January 7, 1948, Rolex asked the dial maker Stern Frères to change "Instambul" to "Instanbul" with an N.

A funny detail of this letter is the date. Only seven days into the new year, the person who wrote it was still used to write 1947. Didn't this happen to all of us at some point?


Conc. cadrans Tour d'heures universel commandés par la maison Cottier. 

Faisant suite à notre entretien téléphonique nous vous confirmons que ces cadrans doivent être exécutés exactement d'après la photographie galv. 4262 en votre possesion, en outre ils sont destinés à des boîtes ayant 38 mm. d'ouverture de lunette. 
Nous attendons un cadran pour la fin février comme vous nous l'avez promis.
Veuillez agréer, Messieurs, nos salutaftions distinguées."

English Translation


Concerning the World Time dials ordered by the Maison Cottier.

Following our phone call, we confirm that these dials must be executed exactly according to the galv. photography 4262 in your possession, besides they are intended for cases with a 38 mm bezel. We are expecting a dial by the end of February as promised. Gentlemen, please accept our distinguished greetings.

It is interesting to note the letter implies the dials were ordered by Cottier and not by Rolex.

The next picture shows a Rolex World Time from the second batch made in 1948 where Instanbul was already written according to Rolex's request.

The movement of this watch is incredibly beautiful. This was the only pocket watch movement ever made by Rolex—respectively Aegler SA in Biel/Bienne. For more common pocket watches, Rolex used a variety of movements from other brands. For instance Cortebert, Montilier, Recta, etc.

An interesting feature of this movement is the "Rolex Patent Cap", a bridge that covers the balance wheel completely.

According to my database, the first movements of this type appeared around 1930/31 in observatory quality (pre COSC) "Prince Imperial" pocket watches.

The case back bears typical Rolex hallmarks from 1943. Clearly visible is the Helvetia hallmark (official symbol for 18k gold) with the town mark "C" for La-Chaux-de-Fonds. The hammerhead symbol with the number 115 is the so-called "Poinçon de Maître" and identifies the case maker. This case was made by Manufacture Favre & Perret SA.

31 Victoires Haute Precision refers to 31 awards won for outstanding precision.

The case number with 7-digits is a typical Rolex pocket watch number that started in 1926 with 1,000,000. After WW2, Rolex abandoned the 7-digit number and adopted a new 6-digit number instead.

As many of you may know, Rolex produced all Panerai watches until 1955/56. Interestingly, the first three batches of the iconic Ref. 3646 were recorded within the pocket watch range and not—as one would expect—within the Oyster range. As you can see in the picture below, the case number of this 3646 is very close to Rolex World Time presented in this article.

Image appears courtesy of Stefano Mazzariol

With the new "Panerai" batch from 1944, Rolex numbered Ref. 3646 with Oyster case numbers.

Coming back to the Rolex World Time pocket watch, although pocket watches are not very popular these days, it can be assumed this spectacular example — considering its rarity and condition — will fetch a considerable amount of money. A piece like this is certainly something for the real connoisseur.

Christie's description fascinatingly mentioned the following:

"Rolex was certainly experimenting with various world time systems as research into their Swiss patents shows. Between 1948 and 1950 Rolex had patented at least three various world time systems including one (Swiss patent no. 273742) with close visual similarities to Cottier’s. Quite why Rolex never put any other world time watches into full production can only be conjecture. 

However, looking at the wider picture, this was a period of experimentation and development of new models within the company, with the focus starting to switch to the robust tool and sports watches for which Rolex has since become synonymous. It was perhaps felt that a world time watch was uncommercial and too expensive to produce and by the early 1950s work on the new GMT-Master may have already begun."

Special thanks to John Goldberger.

A Note From Jake

Jose did such a great job with documenting and contextually showcasing this amazing Rolex history, which comes as no surprise. Jose constantly suprises and delights with his magnificent Horlogical Forensics Investigation technique.

Back on May 20, 2018, I published the story below, which I believe could almost serve as a Part II to Jose's story seen above, as it offers additional insight into the genesis of the Rolex GMT-Master. It also provides additional scholarship and insight while supporting Christie's brilliantly written description seen above this paragraph.

1949 Rolex GMT?

Rolex 'Universal Watch' Patent Application

WTCF!?!! This new find is rather shocking as it adds a previously undocumented piece of history to the Rolex GMT-Master history puzzle. Notice the application date is August 29, 1949. This is profound in that Rolex did not launch the Rolex GMT-Master until 1955.

I really don't even know where to begin with this Rolex patent application as is appears to have come out of left field. The fact that it predates the GMT-Master by 6 years is one thing, but the fact it has two dials with one that includes international cities including Geneve, Berlin, New York, and Panama make it even more interesting as it appears to be a hybrid GMT/World-Timer of sorts...

One interesting detail is that the Rolex 'Universal Watch' pictured above features a dedicated 24 hour hand (5) which we see just above the 2 O'clock position. This means that Rolex had the GMT-Hand design complete at least 6 years earlier than anybody ever documented. Clearly, this Rolex watch model never made it to market, but this patented design really illustrates that Rolex was swinging for the fences in watch design...

It is obvious to note the design of this 'universal watch' by Rolex is opposite of a GMT-Master in the sense a GMT has the 24-hour rotating bezel on the outside, whereas this design features it on the inside...

The photo above shows an original 1955 Rolex Pepsi GMT-Master, which is featured below in the 1955 Rolex ad.

Monday, October 15, 2018

1956 Italian Rolex Brochure Cover


Italian Rolex Brochure Cover

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Rolex Macro Shot Of The Day: Rolex Yacht-Master II

...Rolex Macro Shot Of The Day...

Rolex Yacht-Master II

Hannes who owns the German forum took these amazing macro shots of the white gold Rolex Yacht-Master II.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Robert Palmer Bradley DeepStar 4000 Pilot—Single Red SEA-DWELLER

Robert Palmer Bradley

DeepStar 4000 Pilot


Coming To Phillips Auction House

This story represents a significant piece of the Rolex Submariner/SEA-DWELLER puzzle, which I have been aware of for a very long time, but I never wrote about it until today, as I was never really able to contextualize it properly.

A few days ago, Jose from published an AMAZING article about Robert Palmer Bradley's Single Red SEA-DWELLER which is coming to Phillips Auction House in Geneva on November 10-11 2018. This is no ordinary Single Red SEA-DWELLER as it is the very first known manufactured example.

I wrote a super detailed review of Rolex's 50th Anniversary Single Red SEA-DWELLER which is fascinating.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this story, I have been aware of this Single Red SEA-DWELLER for a long time, but never put this puzzle piece together with the rest until today. Jose from and I were discussing parts of this story last year, but when he published his recent story, it kind of woke me up to the significance of this puzzle piece. So let's dive into this amazing piece of Rolex SEA-DWELLER history.

The photo below shows Robert Palmer Bradley in November 1968 during a ceremony at the Kona Kai Club in San Diego, California receiving his Single Red SEA-DWELLER as a gift from Rolex USA and Westinghouse to celebrate the 500th successful dive of the DEEPSTAR 4000 Submersible. If you look closely you will notice Robert Palmer Bradley holding the classic forest green Rolex gift box in his hand that contains the Single Red SEA-DWELLER.

The Westinghouse DeepStar 4000 Submersible is pictured below in San Deigo, California. I believe there is a very high likelihood the man standing next to the side of the DeepStar submersible in the photo below is Robert Palmer Bradley.

In 1968 Rolex had been working closely with Bob Barth of the U.S. Navy SEALAB  to develop the Rolex SEA-DWELLER and Rolex published the following magazine and as a tribute to Robert Palmer Bradley. This 1968 Rolex Submariner features Westinghouse's DEEPSTAR 4000 along with the Submariner. 

Don't forget that the SEA-DWELLER was and remains a Submariner variant. Robert Palmer Bradleys SEA-DWELLER dial is pictured below and notice underneath the red SEA-DWELLER designation is says, "SUBMARINER 500M-1650FT".

Jacques-Yves Cousteau invented the two-man mini Submersible as seen in the photos below, which the Westinghouse DEEPSTAR was based upon.

The following magazine article was published in October of 1962 and features the history of the development of Jacques-Yves Cousteau's Sea Saucer.

The photo below is from the National Archives and it has a caption that reads:

"K-81569 Underwater Vehicle Deepstar 4000. This Westinghouse vehicle is lowered into the water to be used to inspect Sealab III while the habitat is on the ocean floor for experiments. Off San Clemente, California, December 1968."

The video below is a documentary on SEALAB III and it features the DEEPSTAR 4000 that Robert Bradley Palmer was piloting at the time.

As I mentioned, definitely check out Jose's amazing article on Robert Palmer Bradley's Single Red SEA-DWELLER on Also, Jose and I worked tirelessly on developing THE HISTORY OF THE ROLEX SEA-DWELLER Poster seen below. 

To see all the amazing detail in the SEA-DWELLER Timeline poster below right-mouse-click on it to open it in a different browser window. You can also purchase an amazing high res version of the poster in the Timelines section of

Friday, October 12, 2018

PAN AM 1960 Wall Clock Chronometer


50CM 1960 Wall Clock Chronometer

Christie's Lot Notes

A rare find these large size clocks are the ultimate trophy for the collector of Rolex ephemera. Manufactured for Pan Am or Pan American World Airlines by the Hanover Manufacturing, Inc. in Ohio, they were used in the offices of Pan Am, at airport check in desks and perhaps also at Rolex retailers as advertisement for the collaboration between the two firms, resulting in the creation of the celebrated GMT-Master in the mid-1950s.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Prince Andrew Gives Away Princess Eugenie

Prince Andrew 

Gives Away 

Princess Eugenie

Prince Andrew gave away his daughter, Princess Eugenie in here wedding ceremony today at Windsor Castle.

Prince Andrew is pictured above with his daughter, Princess Eugenie and notice he is wearing his trademark white gold Rolex Day-Date.

It's Deja Vu All Over Again

Witnessing Prince Andrew giving away his daughter reminds me of his own wedding to Princess Sarah, Duchess of York, also known as "Princess Fergie." As we see in the photo above, Prince Andrew is still wearing the exact same white gold Rolex Day-Date 32 years later.

The photo below shows Prince Andrew holding Sarah Ferguson's hand when they got engaged.

Prince Andrew has been wearing Rolex watches for many years and in the photo below Prince Andrew with Sir Sean Connery in 1986 at the Rolex sponsored Jackie Stewart Celebrity Challenge. Prince Andrew is wearing his Submariner and Sean Connery is wearing his Rolex Datejust on a Jubilee bracelet.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

What Is Really Going on with Rolex Supply: Part 2

What Is Really 

Going on with Rolex

Supply: Part 2


In last year's podcast with Jake I mentioned how the CIA could learn much from Rolex when it comes to running an operation discreetly. As one who has covered the business beat professionally for daily newsprints and now tweets daily about Rolex, I can tell you that Rolex news is some of the hardest to come by. There are remarkably zero leaks before a product is unveiled, a feat hardly matched by any American company. 

As the Rolex steel-model shortage continues to be felt, any discovery of financial reports from Rolex or one of its wholly-owned subsidiaries is met with trepidation.

Which brings us to Rolex Watch Company Ltd. The small London-based business is 100-percent owned by Rolex S.A. It employs close to 200 people in the UK, and its main job is to sell all Rolex products to authorized dealers that are in the UK and Ireland. It is interesting to note this organization files financial statements as mandated by British laws.

Its latest annual financial report was released last week and provides a looking glass into Rolex' state of business in the UK in 2017, the first year a shortage of Rolex steel models gripped the market. 

On the issue of shortage, it was always the position of Jake's Rolex World that Rolex does not produce fewer watches in an attempt to keep prices up. Jake's position was simply that demand is surging for Rolex products at a pace that is faster than the company can reasonably manage. Jake wrote an article named “What Is Really Going On With Rolex Supply” in which he laid out all the reasons why he thought Rolex demand was radically exceeding supply. 

For the first time, we have some numbers to back it up. In its report, the British arm of Rolex said revenue from watches sold to authorized dealers has gone up. As I look at the past ten years, it has not only gone up, but reached a record high. It would be difficult to argue that Rolex provides fewer watches to its dealers and at the same time manages to generate the highest revenue in the history of Rolex Watch Company, which even had to bolster its staff to cope with the growth, according to the report.

One argument is that the higher revenue is due to the 2016 price increase of 10%. But sales value is up 23% when comparing 2017 to 2016. Besides the 10-percent price hike is merely offsetting the weakened pound following the “Brexit” in 2016. To summarize:

  • Sales value is up 23% when comparing 2017 to 2016.
  • Sales value is up 43% when comparing 2016 to 2015.
  • Sales value is up 76% when comparing 2017 to 2015.

In 2017, Rolex sales to UK & Irish network of authorized dealers have never been higher, topping £329M in 2017. Its operating profit jumped a staggering 86% year over year. 

I contend that the UK is currently one of the cheapest places in Europe to buy a Rolex because of the weak pound; however, that is difficult to account for all that increase, or to argue that there’s a Rolex' imposed restriction to supply. Rolex generated more revenue in 2017 than in 2016. 

While I'd wish I could see figures for the global market, I believe that if Rolex restricted supply it would have been reflected here in the UK figures. To be clear, these numbers don't reflect sales to customers; it reflects what British and Irish authorized dealers are buying from the Rolex' UK branch. 

And they are buying more than ever because their customers are buying, too.

A Word

About Asia

Few realize how much impact the Asian market has on the Swiss watch industry and thus contributed to the shortage of Rolex inventory. For 2017, the value of the Asian market was half of the world.

According to the most recent data from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, Hong Kong and Mainland China have lead the comeback of the luxury watch market’s largest growth in almost five years. 

穷玩车, 富玩表

“The poor play with luxury cars while the rich play with luxury watches.” Chinese maxim.

For example, from January to June of 2018, Hong Kong and Mainland China contributed over $237.6 million in exported sales. That is more than double the entire U.S. market during the same time. This equates to a huge 29.5 percent rise from 2017 in Hong Kong, 13.4 percent in Mainland China.

I contend that these figures are for all Swiss brands, not just Rolex. But Rolex is arguably the most well-known luxury watch brand in China. Rolex’ round face shape is deemed auspiciousness according to Chinese tradition, and its golden crown logo symbolizes status and power. The brand has chosen top Chinese musicians Lang Lang, Li Yundi (featured below) and Yujia Wang as its brand ambassadors. 

The boost is felt like a tsunami in the Rolex market because of a serious slump that followed the Chinese government’s anti-corruption measures, which took effect in 2014. The measures saw harsh punishments to officials and diplomats for engaging in gift-giving.

That anti-corruption campaign led the Swiss watch market’s global export value to tank in 2015 and 2016. According to data by the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres, the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing, it has certified fewer mechanical Swiss watches in 2016 than in previous past four years. However, in 2017, we observe a jump again, indicating a sudden increase in production to cope with demand. 

China now seems set to lead the recovery of this entire industry, and it’s all due to a large generation of young, affluent consumers who are creating the largest demand for luxury watches in the history of the world.

Follow me on Twitter @RolexMagazine and read more Rolex business news.