This Rolex reference 8171 is one of the most notably original examples in stainless steel to ever come to market. The reference 8171 is one of the most desirable and complicated Rolex watches ever made. Affectionately nicknamed the “Padellone” or “large frying pan” due to its large size for the time, the present example is a dream come true for collectors for its extraordinary originality and charisma.
The case is notable for its incredible original condition. The reference 8171 in steel had extremely crisp edges between the tops and sides of the lugs that could be lost if ever polished. The case on this watch has clearly remained original and untouched by a polishing wheel since the original owner purchased it. Only a few reference 8171 examples in stainless steel could be considered to have steel cases in finer and more original condition than this one.
Moreover, the watch retains its rare original buckle in stainless steel with large crown and leather strap. These buckles are highly prized by Rolex collectors and could perhaps be considered the most notable and beautiful buckles to ever have been used by Rolex. Moreover, the leather strap appears to be original from new and has developed a beautiful patina with age. Given that these cases featured snap-on case backs, dials on these watches often developed some patina and as a result, a number have repainted dials that can drastically affect values.
The present example is extraordinarily special because of the color that the aging process has developed on the once silvered dial. Watches are called 'tropical' when the dial color changes due to the effects of time and wear, and the color produced is always unique to the watch as no two watches can age in exactly the same way. The present watch has taken on a remarkable array of colors, almost rainbow-like, with light and dark shades of blue, brown, yellow and green which can be seen when one inspects its rhythmic flow across the dial. The color has especially developed toward the outer edges of the dial, pushing further inward which is creating a beautiful and naturally formed harmonious pattern. It has developed a fantastic charisma and the coloring and overall wear matches the strap perfectly. From our perspective, it should be considered one of the most honest and original reference 8171 examples in stainless steel to ever come to market.
The present watch was purchased new by a gentleman who was a commercial pilot. The gentleman likely wore it a few years before putting it away. It then was later passed down within the family to the present owner. Initially thought of as nothing more than a vintage Rolex, he determined upon further research it was a legendary reference 8171 in the highly-desirable and rare stainless steel case. Given the rarity, originality, and history of the watch, this gentleman hopes that the next owner will continue to treasure and preserve it.
Rolex has produced only two different models of wristwatches with complete calendar and moon phase, references 8171 and 6062. Both models are automatic, however reference 8171 has a snap-on case back, while reference 6062 is fitted with a water-resistant-type screw-down case back and thus carries the designation “Oyster” on the dial. Reference 8171 is 38mm in diameter, which was remarkably large for the era, whereas reference 6062 is 36mm in diameter. Reference 8171 was made in a very small series between 1949 and 1952, mostly in yellow gold, with examples in pink gold or in stainless steel far more uncommon.