In production since 1939, reference 3525 was available in pink and yellow gold as well as in steel. Without a doubt, it can be considered a landmark model for Rolex, as it is the first example of chronograph wristwatch cased in what is destined to become a legendary case construction: the Oyster case, characterized by screw back and screw down crown. The final version of the Oyster case sports screw down chronograph pushers as well, but this extremely early iteration does not include such upgrade.
The present specimen, preserved in absolutely original and unrestored condition, is an exceptional representative of this model: not only it arrives to us in wonderfully original condition, but it is also a relic from one of the most critical moments in post-war Italian history.
On 14 July 1948, Italian politician Palmiro Togliatti, Secretary General of left wing Italian party PCI from 1927 to 1964 and one of the founding fathers of post-fascism Italy, was shot three times while leaving the House of Parliament in Rome.
Togliatti was rushed to the hospital, while news of the attempted assassination spread throughout Italy, and with it widespread turmoil: a 48 hours general strike was announced, and armed insurrections occurred in many Italian cities. Reportedly, a 5000 people crowd waited in front of the hospital to know whether Togliatti would live or die. The surgery was successful, and Togliatti recovered over the next two weeks, thus averting the civil war the assassination attempt had brought the country to the brink of.
Among the members of the team which performed surgery on the Italian politician there was also Dott. Paolo Biocca. He was the first assistant of the surgeon, he brought Togliatti to the operating room from the ambulance, and he was in charge of his post-op recovery. On 31 July, after full recovery, Palmiro Togliatti donated the present lot to Dott. Biocca, as a token of gratitude for saving his life. The engraving on the case back commemorates the occasion with the inscription: Palmiro Togliatti, al Dott. P. Biocca, riconoscente, 14-7-1948 (Palmiro Togliatti to Dott. P. Biocca with gratitude).
Different versions of Ref. 3525 are illustrated in 100 Superlative Rolex Watches by John Goldberger, pp. 96-107, and in I Cronografi Rolex - La Leggenda, Pucci Papaleo Editore, pp. 162-192.