Between the Phillips and Christie’s Auctions in Geneva and Hong Kong this May, a clutch of vintage watches with a connection to Middle East royalty went under the hammer. It is common practise among Middle Eastern royals to gift watches with their signature or the official coat-of-arms on the dial. These watches often make their way back into the secondary or vintage markets and these ‘Arab dials’ are highly collectible. Here’s a look at some of the top results:
Rolex Daytona Ref. 6263 Quraysh Hawk
Middle East link: In the 1970's His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who was then the Defence Minister of the UAE, commissioned a Rolex Daytona Ref. 6263 that bears the Quraysh Hawk, the emblem of the UAE. This watch has a unique dial configuration – there is no Rolex badge on the dial - that is unique to only a handful of pieces.
The famous hawk is emblazoned under the Rolex crown, in bold polychrome relief, and the signature of the Ministry of Defence sits above hours sub-dial at 6 o’ clock mark. Appearing for the first time at an auction, this watch is from circa 1975, with the standard 37.5mm diameter case.
SOLD FOR: AED1.2 million at the Phillips Daytona Ultimatum Auction, May 12, 2018
Rolex Submariner Ref. 1680
Middle East link: The Rolex Submariner 1680 was introduced by the brand in 1974 and it was the first among the dive watches to offer a date function as well as the first to be manufactured in 18K gold. This particular Submariner was commissioned by Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the ruler of Oman, to give away as State gifts.
The 18K yellow gold Rolex is stamped with a red Khanjar (The national emblem) at 6 o’clock on the black dial, making it quite a coveted timepiece. Housed in a 39.5 mm case, this 26 jewel movement comes with an 18K yellow gold Rolex Oyster bracelet and a yellow gold Rolex deployant clasp with diver extension.
SOLD FOR: AED 1.08 million at Phillips Hong Kong Watch Auction, May 29, 2018
Patek Phillipe “The Pearl of Bahrain”
Middle East link: A gift, presented by the Emir of Bahrain Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa to an American advisor; the Patek Phillipe ‘Pearl of Bahrain’ is reportedly one of the only two examples known to date. The timepiece features a satin-finished rose gold dial with raised gold baton indices and eight natural seed pearls, harvested from the coast of Bahrain, indicating the time.
Subsidiary seconds is observed above six o’clock, in the form of a cross. To accommodate the pearls, the hour and minute hands are fixed on a higher post while a steep bezel and domed crystal provide a better view of the pearl markers from a side angle. The Cal. 10-200 mechanical lever movement is housed in a custom 33 mm case and this timepiece is fitted with black leather strap and an 18K pink gold Patek Philippe buckle.
SOLD FOR: AED 927,724 at the Christie’s Rare Watches auction on May 14.
Rolex GMT Master “SARU” Ref. 16758
Middle East link: Made for the Sultanate of Oman, this model is nicknamed “SARU”. One of the earliest Rolex sports watch, this GMT-Master “SARU” is decorated with diamonds, sapphires and rubies, and a gem set bezel. The blue sapphires and ruby baguette stones create a striking contrast, making this 40 mm timepiece stand out.
The Khanjar emblem with a crown, which is engraved on the caseback, further adds value to this watch. The 27 jewel movement comes with an 18K yellow gold and diamond-set Rolex President bracelet and a yellow gold and diamond-set Rolex concealed deployant clasp.
SOLD FOR: AED 901,378 at the Phillips Geneva Watch Auction, May 12-13, 2018
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 6265
Middle East link: This 1973 Rolex Cosmograph was commissioned by Sultan Qaboos bin Said and features an engraving of the Khanjar with a crown on the caseback. This Valjoux-based 727 movement is quite a sought-after timepiece.
A notable feature is the golden sigma dial with chocolate brown subsidiary registers and luminous dots which serve as hour markers. This rare watch is housed in 37-mm-gold case with an 18K yellow gold Rolex Oyster bracelet and a yellow gold Rolex deployant clasp.
SOLD FOR: AED 647,311 at the Geneva Watch Auction, May 12-13, 2018
Rolex Day-Date Ref. 1804
Middle East link: Introduced as the first self-winding chronometer watch featuring the day and date spelled out, Rolex released the Day-Date model in 1956 and is today considered a modern-day icon. This 1977 model is sought-after because of the red Khanjar above the 6 o’clock index - indicating it was again commissioned by Sultan Qaboos bin Said.
The 26 jewel movement is housed is a 36 mm, 18K yellow gold case, fitted with a champagne dial and baguette-cut diamond numerals. Another striking feature is the bezel with 46 round cut diamonds. This timepiece comes with an 18K yellow gold Rolex President’s bracelet with deployant clasp.
SOLD FOR: AED 81,922 at the Phillips Hong Kong Watch Auction on May 29