Monday, May 13, 2019

Phillips Spring Auction Results...

Phillips Auction Results

1950 Rolex Moonphase

38MM Reference 8171

Sells for $973,975

If you are a regular reader of Jake's Rolex World you know I am a huge fan of the vintage Rolex Moonphase models. Over this last weekend in Geneva, Switzerland Phillips held its Spring auction which was dubbed "The Geneva Watch Auction: Nine". Phillips successfully auctioned this magnificently beautiful Rolex Moonphase for 980,000 Swiss Francs.

Catalogue Essay

Reference 8171 is lovingly dubbed "Padellone", which translates to "large frying pan" in Italian. Boasting a generous 38 mm case, it is slightly larger than its waterproof Oyster sibling, reference 6062. Both references 8171 and 6062 were the only two vintage Rolex models with moonphases, giving them a mythical reputation and cult-like following. Produced for a very short period of time in the early 1950s, reference 8171 and 6062 were available in yellow gold, pink gold, and stainless steel. 

Quite likely one of the greatest and best preserved yellow gold reference 8171s to surface on the market in recent years, this timepiece is an absolutely exceptional specimen. Displaying completely original lines, curves, and finishes, it best demonstrates the genesis and factory specifications of the mythical reference. The bezel is overwhelmingly crisp and displays a bevel at the base that would have instantly disappeared with polishing. Of particular note is that sharp Rolex coronet and case number that is visible and immediately legible on the caseback, attesting to the untouched nature of this timepiece. Furthermore, a deep and sharp hallmark is visible on the bottom of the lug. 

As with all "Padellone" watches, the beauty lies in the dial. Those in original condition, such as this one, are few and far between and appear infrequently on the market. This particular example is best characterized as extraordinary. The dial is undeniably original. The sharp track where the moonphase aperture meets the rim of the subsidiary dial is incredibly precise and correct. One would expect to see significant spotting to the dial considering that this watch is not waterproof and has a snap on caseback. Yet, it remains clear of blemishes. Furthermore, the two-tone design is unmistakable and the "Officially Certified Chronometer" script is visible and crisp. 

If these details and attributes have not already surpassed any collector's wildest expectations, this timepiece is furthermore accompanied by its original numbered hang tag and presentation box, adding yet another layer of collectibility. Interestingly, while the present watch has a snap-on caseback, the hangtag says "Rolex Oyster", showing how the retailers used whatever supplies and accessories they had in stock, at the time. Even the Rolex strap is the original to the timepiece, which is a marvelous feat in itself. 

To acquire a reference 8171 is a dream for many collectors today. Yet, to discover one fresh to the auction market and preserved in unpolished condition with an immaculate dial, is positively unheard of. It is unimaginable when a white whale of watch collecting comes to the market, and it is with great certainty that another will not appear soon

1952 Rolex Moonphase

36MM Reference 6062

Sells for $544,987

Phillips also successfully auctioned this beautiful "Little Star" Rolex moonphase which has a Super-Oyster Case. This is also one of my favorite Rolex models of all time.

Catalogue Essay

Launched at the Basel fair in 1950, reference 6062 was the first automatic wristwatch with date and moonphases to be housed in a waterproof case. Cased in stainless steel, yellow gold and pink gold, the model was fitted with a number of dial variants. One of the most iconic versions is without a doubt, one fitted with eight faceted stars in lieu of hour numerals, such as the present watch. Such is the desirability, and popularity of the watch, that collectors have dubbed it "Stelline", meaning "starlet" in Italian. Reference 6062 is one of two Rolex models to feature a triple calendar complication with a moon phase complication. While reference 6062 features a screw down Oyster caseback, reference 8171 features a snap-on caseback.

Few watches cause fervor and excitement among collectors like reference 6062 and 8171 can. While Rolex is particularly known for its sports models, such as the Submariner or Daytona, the manufacture has created some of the most sublime triple calendar wristwatches in the world. Over the years, these two models have garnered a cult-following, with condition being prized above all. 

The present "Stelline" is preserved in impressive condition. Most examples are spotted throughout, due to aging and exposure to environmental elements. Yet, this dial barely has any imperfections. The numerals on the outer track are inky blue, and the day and date apertures are sharp and angular, demonstrating the originality of the dial. The luminous dots have aged evenly with the numerals, both having aged with warm patina. The yellow gold case, preserved in excellent and sharp condition, displays a sharp hallmark to the bottom of the lug.

Of particular note is that caseback engraving bearing "S.W Levitan Wash. D.C." Research shows that Simon W. Levitan was an accountant for more than 50 years and the former president of the D.C. Board of Accountancy. On top of his many achievements, he was even a special agent during his lifetime.

Fresh to the auction market, the present watch has resided in a private collection for many years. Rarely does this model come at auction, no less in such desirable and impressive condition.

1958 Rolex Submariner

37MM Reference 5508

Sells for $497,032

One of the stars of Phillips auction was this 'Crispy' Submariner from 1958. I noticed collectors, especially on Instagram where tripping on how pristine this case was.

Catalogue Essay

The Submariner is one of Rolex's most iconic models. Still in production today, it has gone through multiple incarnations throughout its 65 years history. While early generation examples notably had either a "small" or "big" crown, Rolex gradually introduced crown guards in the mid-1960s to make the model more robust and durable. 

Reference 5508 was manufactured between 1958 and 1962. This Submariner model, nicknamed “small crown” is the last one to carry a 100m depth rating and no crown guards. The present example is presented in an impressively preserved condition. It seems that the watch has spent its life securely stored away from the ocean and worn less than occasionally. 

The case is as crisp as it was when it left the factory and the fragile bevels that run along the lugs are crisp and sharp. Fitted with a black glossy dial with gilt printings, the watch also displays a perfectly preserved bezel with red triangle and original pearl. It further impresses with a wonderfully firm and tight expandable riveted Oyster bracelet stamped 1.58. 

Directly coming from the family of the original owner, this 60 year plus Submariner is a preserved gem that could possibly be ready for some action.

1996 Rolex Day-Date

36MM Reference 18208

Sells for $22,380

I am including this very unusual looking Rolex Day-Date which features a white marble dial which I like in a strange way. This watch reminds me of Forest Gump saying 'Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get next." That is the interesting point about Rolex, is they always surprise me with how many different variants they have experimented with over time.

Catalogue Essay

The present timepiece is an extremely attractive example of how the Day-Date is used to express all of the unbridled creativity of the Rolex design department. The quintessential “luxury” Rolex timepiece, the Day-Date (and earlier, its sibling the Datejust) were conceived in the mid twentieth century as the most luxurious offering in the Rolex lineup. In fact, the President and Jubilee bracelets were originally created specifically for these two models and were intended to emphasize the luxury connotation of the watches.

Over the years, Rolex created an astoundingly varied series of dials for these pieces, such as dials in malachite, wood, coral, fossil, lacquer, and so on. One of the most unusual, rare and attractive iteration is indeed the one exemplified here: a dial realized with a very thin slab of marble, a material hardly ever used as a dial medium.

Fresh to the market and in superlative condition - unpolished and still retaining its original green Rolex sticker to the back - the present piece is a remarkable testament to Rolex’s creativity and design boldness, and one of the most collectible Day-Date iterations known. It is furthermore accompanied by its original guarantee and presentation box.