• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 1353

    Important Pocketwatches and Wristwatches

    12 May 2008, Geneva

  • Lot 217

    Rolex. An extremely rare and unusual stainless steel self-winding water-resistant wristwatch with sweep centre seconds, date, 24 hour hand, bracelet and prototype "bicchierini" dial

    SIGNED ROLEX, OYSTER PERPETUAL DATE, EXPLORER II, REF. 16550, CASE NO. 8399062, MANUFACTURED IN 1983

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    Rolex. An extremely rare and unusual stainless steel self-winding water-resistant wristwatch with sweep centre seconds, date, 24 hour hand, bracelet and prototype "bicchierini" dial
    Signed Rolex, Oyster Perpetual Date, Explorer II, ref. 16550, case no. 8399062, manufactured in 1983
    Cal. 3085 nickel-finished lever movement, 27 jewels, the black matte dial with luminous dot, baton and dagger numerals with small white gold frames, luminous mercedes hands, sweep centre seconds, magnified window for date, central luminous 24 hour hand, in tonneau-shaped water-resistant-type case with screw back and screw down crown, bezel calibrated for 24 hours, stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet, case, dial and movement signed
    40 mm. diam.


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    It is understood that the present watch is the only reference 16550 featuring a so-called "bicchierini"-dial and represents a significant addition to scholarship regarding the history and development of Rolex's celebrated Explorer II.

    No other Explorer II reference 16550 model was ever made with such a dark grey matte dial featuring the luminous hour markers enclosed by a small, raised white gold frame. This layout consequently renders the luminous centre less obvious, a feature introduced by Rolex for their GMT-Master and Submariner models in the 1980s. The Explorer models of reference 16550 are to date only known to exist with the luminous material enclosed by a thin white gold frame of large size and different shape.

    According to research, Rolex made a special request to one of their dial suppliers, Beyeler, for the Basle Watch Fair in 1982, ordering two such dials for the Explorer II reference 16550. It is today known that this dial design was never chosen to go into regular production and these two prototypes have remained the only examples of this design. After the fair only one of these dials was mounted on a watch - serial number 8399062, the present watch, which was later sold to Rolex New York in 1984.

    Amongst collectors, such dial design is also referred to as the "nipple dial".

    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.