Rolex has produced only two different models of moonphase wristwatches, references 8171 and 6062. Both models are automatic, however reference 8171 has a snap on back, while reference 6062 (see lot 349 in this auction), the Oyster version, is fitted with a water-resistant-type screw back.
Reference 8171 was made in a small series between 1949 and 1952, mostly in yellow gold. Examples in pink gold or in stainless steel (see lot 168 in this sale) are very rare.
The present reference 8171 must certainly be considered as one of the best examples of this legendary model, both in terms of condition and exclusive dial design, if not the very best remembered by the market. Quite likely never polished since new, it reveals in a most impressive manner how full and sharp the original case proportions were when leaving the factory. The dial, finished in an incredibly refined two-tone colour scheme, is as perfectly preserved as a dial can be after half a century. Furthermore, it is quite unique in how the signatures, designations and Rolex logo are laid out. We do not record another example of this model where the applied Rolex crown and name together with the rare "Perpetual" designation are all featured above the calendar windows. It is furthermore unusual to find the term "Officially Certified Chronometer" between the centre and the calendar apertures. Another highly unusual feature is the double mentioning of FAB. SUISSE and SWISS MADE at the bottom of the dial.
For over 20 years a cherished trophy in the same distinguished European collection, it is now the first time this masterpiece is offered at auction. For the connoisseur, always striving to add the best to his collection, this exclusive specimen is a "dream come true".