Watches specialist Thomas Perazzi selects 5 highly unusual timepieces, with standout features ranging from tropical lemon dials to star-shaped numerals, offered in Rare Watches on 15 May in Geneva
Entirely fresh to the market and with only two previous owners, the Rolex gold 6264 Paul Newman Tropical Lemon Dial is a watch that almost nobody knew existed until recently. Breathtakingly attractive, it combines all of the rarest attributes that a collector could possibly imagine in a gold Paul Newman Daytona.
What really sets the pulse racing, however, is the realisation that both the outer minute/fifths of a second ring and all three subsidiary dials have tropicalised from black to an even, rich chocolate brown. It is the only known example of such tropicalisation of its kind on this reference, further enhanced by the luminous accents having also tropicalized to an intense dark brown.
Added to the fact that the ‘lemon’ dial is an extremely rare variant in its own right, this becomes one of the most — if not the most — important gold Paul Newman Daytona wristwatches ever to be offered at auction.
This prototype watch is one of only three examples known to exist — one other with a blue dial, and one with a black dial. Together they are the only surviving records of a never-realised early 1970s design for a white-gold Submariner.
The Submariner reference 1680 was launched in the late 1960s, and was the first Submariner model to have a version cased in precious metal and the first to have a date function. However, the model was only ever made in either stainless steel or yellow gold — no examples are known in white gold, except for the three prototypes. (In fact the Submariner was not officially produced in white gold until the launch of the reference 116619 in 2014.)
One can only speculate as to why the model never went into production. Perhaps rising costs and an uncertain market during the economic turbulence and oil crisis of the early 1970s made Rolex exercise caution.
The present watch, with its striking and dramatic good looks, gives collectors the opportunity to obtain a quite extraordinary and important part of the Rolex story.
Offered alongside the first prototype of the Swiss Alp watch, the unique Swiss Mad watch is made partly from Swiss cheese — integrated with an innovative composite material, itr2, made from carbon nanotubes. Proceeds from the sale of the watches will benefit the Foundation for Swiss Watchmaking Culture.
The Swiss Mad watch playfully highlights the importance of returning the Swiss Made concept to its former heights. Created in Switzerland by Swiss watchmakers using Swiss materials — a Vacherin Mont d’Or médaille d’or for the cheese — the watch has been machined and polished with the H. Moser signature finishes. Swiss cowhide was the obvious choice for the strap.
With its red fumé dial and double indices at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock, the Swiss Mad’s look is distinctly reminiscent of the Swiss flag. Irreverent and striking, this is a watch that is about as Swiss as it gets. Together with the Swiss Alp, the Mad Watch is offered with the unusual proviso that, ‘No estimate can be provided as these watches are priceless thanks to their noble cause’.
In the 1950s, Rolex decided to devote some of its production to the manufacture of watches for scientific professionals working in medical facilities, power plants, research laboratories, etc, where electromagnetic fields can interfere with a watch’s timekeeping abilities. The resulting watch was one of the most fascinating models made by Rolex, the Milgauss, introduced in 1956 and designed to withstand magnetic fields of up to 1,000 gauss.
The Milgauss was only ever sold in very small numbers before finally being discontinued in 1988. This very rare Milgauss reference 6543 was in production for three years between 1955 and 1957. Rolex reintroduced the model in 2007 to critical acclaim, and it quickly became highly collectible.
The reference 6543 achieves its high anti-magnetic properties thanks to a very thick case back and a soft iron band bracing the movement. A curious detail of this reference is the lugs width: it is slightly narrower than the canon 20 mm, thus preventing the attachment of a bracelet.
Within the reference 6098 Rolex family, examples fitted with the appealing honeycomb dial and sought-after star-shaped numerals — more commonly associated with the ‘stelline’ reference 6062 made during the same period — occupy a very special position.
According to our research, including the present watch, a total of only eight reference 6098 are known publicly with a gold case and silvered ‘stelline’-type dial, making this one of the rarest Rolex wristwatches from the early 1950s. Furthermore, the dial has remained completely untouched over the past 65 years, so that today it impresses as a stunning and pure example of the reference.
Other interesting aspects of the watch are its copper-coloured gilt movement, and the fact that the interior of the caseback is ‘double-signed’ — in addition to the large Rolex Geneva Swiss Patented signature and logo, Montres Rolex S.A., Geneva, Swiss is engraved vertically. This combination has led to speculation that a number of reference 6098 watches sharing these features may have been used for a special purpose, such as an exhibition.