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Rolex. A large, very fine and extremely rare stainless steel rectangular wristwatch with three-tone dial
On lots marked with an + in the catalogue, VAT wil… Read more
Rolex. A large, very fine and extremely rare stainless steel rectangular wristwatch with three-tone dial

SIGNED ROLEX, REF. 1897, CASE NO. 016’797, CIRCA 1935

Details
Rolex. A large, very fine and extremely rare stainless steel rectangular wristwatch with three-tone dial
Signed Rolex, ref. 1897, case no. 016’797, circa 1935
Mechanical movement, 15 jewels, three-tone silvered dial, Arabic numerals, baton hour divisions, outer railway minute divisions, sunken subsidiary seconds, large rectangular case, snap on back, case, dial and movement signed
27 mm width; 40 mm. overall length
Special notice

On lots marked with an + in the catalogue, VAT will be charged at 8% on both the premium as well as the hammer price.

Condition report

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Lot Essay

This watch is one of the very few examples of this reference known publically. Extremely attractive and of unusually large size for the period, the present watch is preserved in excellent condition overall.

The present wristwatch can be considered without a doubt a true “unicorn”. Reference 1897 appears in fact to be one of the most elusive Rolex models ever manufactured. Research indicates that only another such model has appeared in a Christie’s saleroom since the early 1990s: number 013’526, which was sold two times in London: once in 1993 and then again in November 1997. This last date, nearly two decades ago, would seem to mark the last appearance of this model in an auction room.

Beyond its extreme rarity, reference 1897 impresses with its absolutely stunning looks. It is undeniably decades ahead of its times: the clean, angular and crisp lines of the case are very close to what seen in timepieces from the 1950s, 60s or even 70s. Its proportions, measuring a generous 40 millimeters in length, are also much closer to current taste than to what was the fashion of the time. Elements of such an unconventional design are incorporated in the dial as well: it is extremely clean and readable, with four bold Arabic numerals. The influence of the 1930s is however present in the outer scales, realized in two tones of pink. Sectoral multi-tones dials are in effect a governing element of watchmaking design during the Art deco period, an element subtly and elegantly incorporated into this outstanding dial.

A final mention has to be made about the condition of the timepiece: the dial is clean and the colors vibrant, and the case is absolutely outstanding. It presents hardly any trace of wear, sporting clean and crisp corners and edges which allow the beholder to properly appreciate the groundbreaking design of this masterpiece as it was originally conceived more than eighty years ago.

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