Injecting some weird and wonderful into your Monday, discover the world of Rolex like you’ve never seen it before.
Should you ever find yourself pub quiz and the host has just asked you to name the first watch brand that you can think of. Chances are, you’re probably going to say Rolex. Why? Because it’s everywhere and everyone knows it. The Rolex you know is undoubtedly a Submariner, Datejust or Daytona, seen on the likes of Paul Newman, Patrick Bateman’s in American Psycho, and Matthew McConaughey in that iconic humming-cum-coughing scene in the Wolf of Wall Street.
But have you ever seen a Domino’s Pizza branded model or a pocket watch? Discover the weird and wonderful world of Rolexes that might have slipped off your radar. In the words of Rolex: a crown for every achievement, and that includes eating a pizza.
Rolex “Domino’s” 34mm Oyster Perpetual Air-King Ref. 5500
Pizza partisans, this one’s for you. If you’re well acquainted with the Domino’s Pizza tracker, then consider this your own personal tracker in real time. An unlikely high-low pairing, the collaboration began as a method of incentivizing employees at the pizza franchise in 1977. Domino’s founder and CEO, Tom Monaghan reportedly gave a high-earning owner a watch off his own wrist and later records in his autobiography ‘Pizza Tiger’ that an employee who asked how he could get a watch from him, the challenge was to turn in $25,000 that week. As he did, he was rewarded with a watch.
While these watches were never intended for mainstream sales, they have since garnered a collectible status with Christie’s auctioning a model for $20,000 including premium in an online auction.
Rolex Experimental Deep Sea Special N°1
There’s absolutely nothing low key about the Rolex Deep Sea Special N°1. Making a serious splash, the diving watch was designed in the early 50’s and attached to the hull of Swiss physicist, Auguste Piccard’s bathyscaphe Trieste for the inaugural deep-sea trial to a depth of 3,150 meters in the Mediterranean. The whole world watched when the strange-looking bathyscaphe Trieste – from the Greek for ‘deep’ (bathos) and ‘ship’ (scaphos), and the Italian for the shipbuilding city and economic region by the Adriatic Sea which provided the financing – was launched in 1953 on the 16th of August. In the early to mid-1960s, to celebrate the dive down to the world’s deepest place and after the unexpected worldwide success and enthusiasm that this event generated, Rolex produced about three dozen display models to share their exploits and know-how with the public.
Price: Estimated $2,000,000-$4,000,000
Rolex Ref. 6062 “Bao Dai”
What is a watch if not an artefact of history? The Bao Dai Rolex holds its own unique history lesson following Nguyễn Phúc Vĩnh Thụy, the 13th and last emperor of the Nguyễn Dynasty. Ascending the throne aged 12 in 1925, he was given the title of Bao Dai, meaning Keeper of Greatness, championing reforms across the judicial and educational systems, and looking to end more outdated values. Bao Dai exercised great interest in tasteful things, commissioning artisans to create one-of-a-kind creations for him from cars to boats.
When he attended the Geneva Conference in Geneva in 1954 – without knowing it would lead to the division of Vietnam – Bao Dai took to the streets to go shopping before coming across a nearby jeweller. He asked for the rarest and most valuable Rolex watch. The watch presented to him was the Ref. 6062 from the year 1952 – a yellow gold watch with a full calendar, which is a triple calendar displaying the date, day and month, as well as a moon phase complication.
Price: $5,060,427 (in 2017)
Rolex Daytona 116588TBR “Eye Of The Tiger”
If Joe Exotic wore a watch, this would be it. Carrying 36 diamonds on the bezel, 18-carat gold dial markers and a further 243 diamonds on the dial, the Rolex Daytona masters the art of extravagance. Released unexpectedly at Baselworld in 2019, this iteration of the Rolex Daytona comes with little back story other than proving that Rolex continuously catches people off guard. They do it because they can.
1971 Rolex Cellini 4127
A collection focused on aesthetics rather than the functionality you get from the more recognisable patented Rolex watches, the Cellini was introduced in the ’60s taking its name from the famed Italian goldsmith and sculptor, Benvenuto Cellini. Celebrating elegant and bold lines, it marked itself as a dress watch, under the ideation of Rene-Paul Jeanneret, a member of the Rolex board that led to this new shift in direction for the brand. As Director of Marketing for Rolex, it was Jeanneret that proposed the efforts to consider the Rolex collector, creating the premise of owning several Rolex watches for different uses and occasions from utility to design.
Rolex Ref. 2801 “Staybrite” Single-Button Chronograph
“Staybrite” was a term that came about in the early 1900’s when, by accident, metallurgist Harry Brearly accidentally invented stainless steel, when he was trying to find an improved alloy steel for use in rifle barrels. From 1924 this new alloy was marketed by the Sheffield, England, steel masters Thomas Firth & Sons under the name “Staybrite.” Made in the 1940’s, the Rolex pocket watch soon became extremely rare, boasting a co-axial button chronograph, register and tachometer.
Rolex Rolesium Sporting Princess
Not your average pocket watch, the Rolex Rolesium Sporting Princess was created in the 1930’s and retailed by Stern. The quadrilateral watch is cased in a reptile-skin purse with Art Deco detailing and according to experts, Experts point out that Rolex normally reserves its green colorway for exclusive releases.
Rolex King Midas Ref. 9630
Once owned by Elvis, the Rolex King Midas, designed by none other than the God of haute horology Gerald Genta, is somewhat of a coveted watch to come by for collectors.
As the Greek myth goes, whatever King Midas touched turned to gold. So in 1964, taking on that attitude of King Midas, Rolex brought out the heaviest gold watch, carved from a single block of 18 karat gold weighing in at 150grams.
The design of the Rolex King Midas takes its inspiration from the Parthenon temple of Athena in Greece. If you place the watch on its side with the winding crown facing up, the triangular tip resembles the temple roof, while the thick bracelet grooves represent the column
Rolex Zerographe Ref. 3346
And finally, the enigmatic Zerographe is considered as a horological mystery. Despite being the first Oyster chronograph model made by Rolex as there is no official information at Rolex or advertising during its release. Existing quietly in the ether, the Zerographe incorporates another major turning point for Rolex as it is fitted with a revolving bezel, which formed the foundation for all Rolex sports watches that we know today.