A rare 1950s era Rolex triple calendar moonphase Ref. 6062, possibly unworn, is up for grabs at the Christie’s New York next month. Nicknamed the “The Dark Star”, the watch is as notable for its “Stelline” or “Star dial” as it is for its deeply oxidized 18K gold case.
Introduced in 1950 and produced for approximately 10 years, Rolex’s Ref. 6062 is one of only two Rolex models to feature a triple calendar, the other being the Ref. 8171 “Padellone”. Fitted with an in-house automatic movement with a full calendar and moonphase indication, Ref. 6062 differed from the Padellone by virtue of being housed in the iconic Oyster case. Incidentally, these two references remained the only two Rolex moonphase watches made in series, until the arrival of the Cellini Ref. 50535 in 2017.
A rare Ref. 6062 once owned by Bao Dai, the last emperor of Vietnam, was sold for $ 5 million (CHF5,066, 000) at a Philips Auction at the Hôtel La Réserve in Geneva on the night of May 13. This watch remained the most expensive Rolex sold at an auction till it was surpassed by the $17 million historic Paul Newman Daytona.
According to Christie’s, only 150 of the approximately 670 examples of Ref. 6062 produced in yellow gold have ever appeared on the market, far fewer with the “Star Dial” and none with a case in this condition. The 18K yellow gold case has a dark patina that spreads “like a veil” over the bezel, sides and caseback. The dark oxidation of the case over decades that has caused this patina is likely to be the result of the watch being unworn over the years.
The oxidation has caused a rainbow-like effect when viewed from certain angles on this yellow gold case.
What’s also cool is that the case looks unpolished, so the case lines are well preserved. In fact, the screwed caseback retains its original satin finish, the numbers in between the lugs are crisp, and so are the pinholes, proof of how seldom the watch was worn. Furthermore, a crisp gold hallmark is seen to the back of the top right lug. The case was made in Geneva by Genex, the case department of Gay Frères. The 35-mm-wide case is fitted with the original "Super-Oyster" crown. Two variants of crown are seen on the Ref. 6062, the "Super-Oyster", and the Twin-Lock crown.
Gold luminous stars shine brightly against the matte silvered dial. The "Star Dial" is actually a ‘Mark 1 Dial Type 755’ made by celebrated dial maker Stern Frères. Type 755 remains the only dial made for Ref. 6062 featuring star-shaped hour markers with three faceted dagger-shaped hour markers at 3, 6 and 9 o'clock with radium lume plots to their center. Another variant, dial Type 453, has star-shaped numerals too but the luminous material is not central to the numerals there.
The dial features the "Officially Certified Chronometer" designation on the subsidiary dial as opposed to under the Rolex signature, dating this watch to 1952-1953. The moonphase disc - charmingly given eyes, a nose and a mouth - was produced by Stern Frères with the blue enamel champlevé technique also used in Patek Philippe watches. The calendar discs, also made by Stern Frères, are with inscriptions painted black and were produced in five languages; English, French, German, Italian or Spanish, the present example in English.
The watch is powered by Caliber 655, developed specifically for the Ref. 6062. When launched it featured the patented Rolex Super-Balance and allowed the calendar to advance through the setting pin holes in the band.
Given the condition of this “grail” watch and its rarity, the watch is bound to attract the attention of discerning Rolex collectors. The watch was previously sold at Christie’s New York in December 2011 for $542,000 and has since “remained unworn and in the possession of one of the most important and distinguished collectors.” This timepiece now has a pre-sale estimate of $1,000,000–2,000,000.
(This news item was condensed from an original article written by Christie’s Watches specialist Rebecca Ross.)