Fellows’ latest quarterly Vintage & Modern Wristwatch auction included a rare 1940s Rolex Oyster, the so-called ‘monobloc’ chronograph.
With the greater strength and superior water
resistance provided by the case construction and the excellence of
the movement, the monobloc (reference number 3525) represented a
significant step forward for Rolex and it was little surprise that
many of these pieces found their way onto the wrists of serving
personnel during the Second World War.
While the movement was functioning, the
condition of this example (wear to the plating and heavy pressure
fracturing to the glass) suggested it might have more than a tale
or two to tell. The serial number 185972 may offer some clues to
its early life.
Estimated at £8000-12,000 for the sale in
Birmingham on April 15, it achieved £24,000.
From a later vintage was an 18k gold Patek
Philippe Beta 21. This was the first quartz model ever produced by
these masters of all things mechanical (the Beta 21 movement was
the fruit of a collaboration among 20 leading Swiss watch brands)
and was launched in 1970.
However, because of its high cost, very few
watches were produced. Estimated at £6000-8000, this good example
fitted to an 18k gold bracelet with clasp and offered in its
original box took £10,000.
Also ranking among the highest prices achieved at auction for
the model was the £1900 paid for a Heuer calculator watch, an
automatic chronograph surrounded by the best portable technology of
the 1970s, a slide rule.