• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 1357

    Important Watches

    17 November 2008, Geneva

  • Lot 297

    Rolex. A very fine and rare stainless steel automatic wristwatch with sweep centre seconds, bracelet and Guarantee


    Price Realised  


    Rolex. A very fine and rare stainless steel automatic wristwatch with sweep centre seconds, bracelet and Guarantee
    Signed Rolex, Oyster Perpetual, 200m=660ft, Submariner, ref. 6538, case no. 307'470, manufactured in 1957
    Cal. 1030 nickel-finished lever movement, 25 jewels, black dial, luminous dot, baton and dagger numerals, luminous mercedes hands, sweep centre seconds, tonneau-shaped water-resistant-type case, screw back, big screw down crown, revolving black bezel calibrated for 60 units, stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet, case, dial and movement signed
    38 mm. diam.

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    The present watch was purchased by the uncle of the present owner's father in October 1958 at W. Littlejohn & Son in Wellington while he was serving with the RAF in New Zealand as mechanic, working on Halifax bombers amongst others. The watch is accompanied by an original Rolex Guarantee signed by W. Littlejohn & Co. and dated 24 October 1958 but numbered 6538/307'484 - certainly an oversight of the sales clerk at the time, delivering the guarantee of another reference 6538 model from their stock.

    This watch must be considered as one of the most attractive reference 6538 models to come to the market in recent years. Never been offered in public before, it reveals the best of all ingredients this landmark model can possibly offer to any connoisseur collector.

    The dial shows an incredibly charismatic warm, dark brown, grainy patina which has formed naturally over the years, most probably due to various atmospheric influences and sunlight. Another particularly appealing feature are the charismatically discoloured luminous hour markers, now displaying a fascinating cream tone. It is interesting to note that the 6 o'clock marker is still showing the original, light green colour. According to research, these particular hour markers where coloured in a more intense tone by Rolex on their early sports watches. The signature, model name and outer minute track, all in negative printing, have taken a superb yellow/orange tone, lending the watch a most charismatic look.

    The case, never exposed to careless polishing, impresses any beholder with its full body and sharp angles to the facets of the lugs.

    Originally designed as a tool watch and bought by a RAF member for daily use, it is by little surprise that the watch has seen an active life resulting in wear marks to the bezel. Its charisma has only benefited and its appeal to collectors is as intact as it can be.

    The black and white image shows the shop of W. Littlejohn & Son, renowned watch and clock retailer in Wellington, New Zealand, located in Orr's City Buffet Hotel, Lambton Quay. It was photographed by Henry Charles Clarke Wright circa 1893.

    Reference 6538
    Reference 6538, the upgraded version of reference 6200, was introduced into the market in 1955. It was depth rated to 200 meters (660 ft), featured a 8 mm. crown, no crown guards. The dial with gilt printing, with or without depth rating but with gilt printed designation "Submariner" and "Mercedes" hands, the bezel without minute divisions. Between 1956 and 1958, a special issue of the model was made for the British Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy.

    Reference 6538 has come to international fame when prominently worn by 007 Agent James Bond during his stint in "Dr. No". Its first and best remembered appearance was when Bond enters a bar and while lighting a cigarette checks the precise time on his reliable tool watch. As a professional agent would expect, the explosive device previously planted by him blows up on the dot as indicated by his Submariner. Consequently, Bond and his reference 6538 are the only two "guests" to maintain their composure...

    It is therefore by no surprise that amongst thoroughbred Rolex aficionados reference 6538 enjoys the most authentic status as "James Bond" model. Defined by its masculine case proportions, the large 8 mm. crown without crown guards and the bezel without minute markings on the first quarter lend it an unmistakable look.

    Special Notice

    Prospective buyers should be aware that the importation of Rolex watches into the United States is highly restricted. Rolex watches may not be shipped into the USA and can only be imported personally. Generally a buyer may import only one watch into the USA. For further information please contact our specialists in charge of the sale. Please note other countries may have comparable import restrictions for luxury watches.

    Pre-Lot Text