With Rolexes breaking records in nearly every auction during the past four years, Christie’s May 15 sale in Geneva will be rich with surprises: the afternoon session is a Rolex-only affair, and its 116 lots cover a staggering 55 different references. They span the 1930s to the 2010s and include a number of ultra-rare pieces.

Christie’s claims it to be the “largest gathering of Rolex timepieces any auction house has ever offered in one single afternoon,” which suggests they’ve lost their copies of the catalogues for Antiquorum’s legendary events of 1 April and 13 May, 2006 in Geneva and 17 April 2008 in New York. The first was the astounding Mondani collection, over two sessions with 152 and 156 lots respectively. The second sale was called (coincidentally) “Revolution – the Evolution of the Rolex Sport Watch.” It featured 111 lots in the morning and 158 in the afternoon.

Also in Christie’s own past: On 30 September 1997, the house offered the Ravenborg Collection of Rolexes – 180 lots in the morning and another 181 in the afternoon.

That aside, the selection is impressive. Among the highlights are:

Lot 175 oozes class: it’s a Ref. 6098 in 18k yellow gold, a stunning Oyster Perpetual from 1953 with honeycomb “star” dial which Christie’s describes as “completely untouched over the past 65 years.” This time-only model, on a Jubilee-style bracelet, is one of only eight known to exist with gold case and “stelline” dial. Estimate: CHF/US $80,000-120,000

Lot 193 boasts the dial colour of the moment. It’s a circa-1941 stainless steel Ref. 3525 Oyster Chronograph with “tropical” salmon dial, known to Italian collectors as the “monoblocco” because of the case construction. Condition is sublime. Estimate: CHF/US $90,000 – 140,000.

Lot 200 is a super-rare circa-1955 Milgauss Ref. 6543, with honeycomb dial, rotating bezel and unusual indices. This example comes from the first series, in production for three years from 1955 to 1957. Estimate: CHF/US $150,000 – 250,000.

Lot 216, and looking like the reverse of Lot 218, below, is a 14k gold “John Player Special Paul Newman”, Ref. 6241 from 1967. The anally-retentive will delight in knowing that, although worn, the Rolex green and gold caseback sticker is still intact. Less than 10 of the 400 examples of this variant have appeared at auction in the last 20 years. Estimate: CHF/US $200,000-400,000.

Lot 218, a “possibly unique” 18k gold Paul Newman Cosmograph Daytona Ref 6264 with tropical lemon dial and white numerals inside the subsidiary dial. Said to have known only two previous owners, it’s subtly “tropicalised” and only four examples are believed to have the lemon dial with white printed subsidiary numerals. Estimate: CHF/US $500,000 – 800,000.

Lot 267, for the Submariner hardcore is a Ref 5513 from 1963 with a number of luscious details including “tropical” underline Explorer dial with Arabic 3/6/9 numerals, pointed crown guards, “200m-600ft” legend, gold printing, “extremely rare” narrow Rolex coronet variation, original bezel and the period riveted bracelet ref. 7206. Estimate: CHF/US $120,000 – 200,000.

Lot 272, though a relative youngster at only 20 years of age, is a dream for Submariner collectors. This Ref. 16610 was made for the Comex “Operation Everest” experiment. It’s in as-new condition, with box and papers. Estimate: CHF/US $35,000 – 55,000.

Lot 282, a stainless steel Daytona Ref. 6263 with green “Khanjar” symbol, presented by the Sultan of Oman to its current owner in 1974, part of a small series made for the Sultan to serve as gifts. Less than 10 are known to exist, and this is believed to be the earliest. Estimate: CHF/US $320,000 – 420,000.

We can’t wait to see the full catalogue. In the meantime, the watches will be exhibited in the following locations:

HONG KONG
Christie’s, 22nd Floor, Alexandra House, 18 Chater Road, Central
20-21 April 2017, 10am-6pm

LOS ANGELES
366 N Camden Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 9021020
18-28 April 2017, 10am-6pm No viewing on 24 April.

GENEVA
Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues, 33 Quai des Bergues, 1201 Geneva
12-14 May 2017, 10am-6pm

TAIWAN
13F, Suite 1302, No. 207, Sec. 2,Tun Hua South Road, Taipei 106
24-25 April 2017, 10am-6pm

NEW YORK
Rockefeller Plaza, New York, 10020
6 May 2017, 10am-6pm
7 May 2017, 1pm-6pm and 8 May 2017, 10am-6pm

Auction Details:
Monday 15 May 2017, at 10.00am and 3.00pm
Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues, 33 Quai des Bergues, 1201 Geneva