Hands On: An Impressively Preserved Rolex Ref. 6062

In steel and going on the block at Phillips.

Arguably the most storied Rolex model in history, more so than the “Paul Newman” Daytona, the ref. 6062 triple calendar is beautiful, and unusually for Rolex, complicated. At the same time, the ref. 6062 boasts the trademark water-resistant Oyster case, something that its closest cousin, the ref. 8171 “Padellone” triple calendar, lacks.

Soon to go under the hammer at Phillips in Geneva is a particularly impressive example of the ref. 6062. While there have been more storied examples of the ref. 6062 sold in recent years – including the “Bao Dai” owned by the last emperor of Vietnam – the upcoming ref. 6062 is possibly the best preserved. It is a steel example, and while a steel ref. 6062 is rare, the condition of this watch truly sets it apart.

The case appears original in shape and detail, though it shows wear; modest wear considering the seven decades since the watch was made. Phillips describes the case as “unpolished” and while that cannot be ascertained with absolutely certainty, the claim is certainly a credible one.

The Oyster case has its full shape, defined edges, and even the tiny step at the very top of the bezel where it meets the crystal.

More so than any of the other external components, the case back of this model typically shows the most obvious wear as the engravings are shallow. But here the original engravings look almost like they did fresh out of the factory, right down to the rectangular blocks separating the two lines of text.

Interestingly, the back is also personalised, indicating this watch was a gift from “K.B.-S.” to “P.J.W.” in either January or July 1955. Whoever he or she was, “K.B-S.” was clearly very grateful and fortunately also possessed of good taste.

Because the ref. 6062 has a watertight Oyster case, it tends to better protect the dial than the non-water resistant ref. 8171. This example demonstrates the utility of the Oyster case perfectly, with the dial being almost perfect as such things go.

The dial has an impeccable two-tone finish, with a matte, vertically brushed centre and a grained date ring on its periphery. Although both finishes are rendered in silver, the state of the dial is so good that the difference in texture and tone between the two is instantly recognisable.

Another notable detail on the dial are the calendar windows, both of which retain the sharply bevelled edges that characterise an original dial that has not been cleaned or reworked.

Some examples of the ref. 6062 were fitted with luminous dials featuring radium paint, which this example fortunately does not have. Even in a perfectly sealed water-resistant case, the radioactivity of radium causes dials to deteriorate over time, as seen in the ref. 6062 once owned by Continental Airlines chief Gordon Bethune. With its gilded markers, this example avoided radium-induced ageing.

The watch, however, is not perfect – which is reassuring. In particular, the lower right lug has a series of gouges on its upper edge, seemingly from a dragging impact from long ago. Although the case is marred, its honest condition contributes to the overall appeal of the watch.

The last time a sterling example of a steel ref. 6062 came to market was probably Phillips Geneva in 2017, and that watch sold for just under CHF2 million including fees.

The ref. 6062 has an estimate of CHF1.0-2.0 million and it is lot 12 in Phillips’ Geneva auction taking place on November 3, 2023.


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