• Important Watches auction at Christies

    Sale 2858

    Important Watches

    11 June 2014, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 88

    Rolex. An Extremely Rare and Early Stainless Steel Automatic Wristwatch with Center Seconds and Gilt Four-Line Dial


    Price Realised  


    Rolex. An Extremely Rare and Early Stainless Steel Automatic Wristwatch with Center Seconds and Gilt Four-Line Dial
    Signed Rolex, Oyster Perpetual, 200m=660ft, Submariner, Officially Certified Chronometer, Ref. 6538, Case No. 158'299, Circa 1956
    Cal. 1030 automatic movement, 25 jewels, black dial, luminous dot, baton, and dagger numerals, luminous Mercedes-style hands, outer gilt minute divisions, center seconds, tonneau-shaped water-resistant-type case, revolving black bezel calibrated for 60 units, screw down crown, screw back, case, dial, and movement signed
    37mm diam.

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    This exceptional Rolex fresh to the market comes from the great-grandson of the original owner, William Bumpy Graham Bell. A distant relative of Alexandre Graham Bell, Bumpy was an adventurer and entrepreneur and since his first diving experiences as a youngster with his brother using a home-made dive helmet, he turned his passion for the outdoors and photography in to a lucrative career as a preeminent underwater photographer. His Bumpy Productions based in Bell's home town of Tucson Arizona was known for many underwater films including work with Disney Productions on The Pelican Story and Treasures of Yucatan airing on ABC.

    To many Rolex collectors, the true James Bond Submariner reference 6538 is a must-have. Introduced in 1955, the model featured an 8mm crown without crown guards and a depth rating to 200 meters (660 feet). The reference came to international fame in 1962 when it was worn by James Bond, Agent 007 in the movie Dr. No.

    The present example of reference 6538 is a remarkable specimen with a rare and notable detail - the superb gilt four-line chronometer dial. While most examples of this treasured timepiece features only 200m = 660ft and Submariner, the present watch stands because of the additional signature lines Officially Certified Chronometer on two additional lines. The four lines in gilt, retain a beautiful golden hue. They are not printed on the dial surface, rather in negative from the dial plaque underneath, similar to the coronet, Rolex, Oyster Perpetual" and outer minute track.

    Examples of the reference 6538 "Big Crown" are relatively scarce, and the four lines examples are highly sought after amongst Rolex aficionados. The present Submariner in itself is a rarity, and in such condition is very uncommon. The dials of early Submariners were radioactive due to the use of radium, and tend to take on a "spotty" look with age. The present dial has remained in overall very good condition, with beautifully aged luminous hour markers and gilt text that has taken on a warm dark golden color.

    This extraordinary specimen is an early example, the inside case back stamped III.56, and is a must-have for the discerning collector.

    Two examples of the reference 6538 with four line printing are described and illustrated in 100 Superlative Rolex Watches by John Goldberger, pp. 185, 206 & 207.

    Pre-Lot Text