Rare Vintage Rolex Collection in Florence – Hands On With Some of The Most Iconic Rolexes From WatchesInRome
Some of you guys know I’m usually writing about new watches, mostly independent brands, and rarely about the traditional manufacturers. Especially vintage watches, I usually leave that to other, more experienced ‘watch geeks’. However once in a while I do get a chance to meet with some very knowledgable collectors or retailers; and when that happens it seems as if their passion just transmits to me, and I, too want to learn all about those rare pieces and their stories. This Summer our team was in Florence, and had the pleasure to meet Mr. Marlon De Simone, one of the co-owners of ‘WatchesInRome’ – a vintage and special vintage watch retailer in Rome. He traveled all the way from there so that we could see and get our hands on some of his finest rare vintage Rolex timepieces.
Marlon, together with his brother Julian are a legacy in a way – their father, founder of WatchesInRome, is managing the business together with them, and to this day their store remains one of the most successful places where one can find the best examples of vintage Rolexes and Pateks out there. Marlon proved that statement by bringing the pieces this post is all about, starting with three very special Rolex Daytonas. We have the ref. 6269, that was produced in the 1980’s – only about 30 of them were made, and that model is considered to be the first ever Daytona with factory added diamonds! If you flip the case you will see it still has its original sticker applied, and with all of its box and papers it’s considered to be in new old stock condition.
The other 2 daytonas are the Paul Newman Oyster Sotto 6263 Mark I and Mark II, also known as the “RCO” due to the order of ‘Rolex Cosmograph Oyseter’ written on the dial. There are only about 15 examples of the Mark I that exist, and they are characterized by the small R in the Rolex writing, and the case with a 2.0 million serial number series, which means it is one of the first Daytona 6263 examples ever made. The Mark II is differentiated by the big R in the Rolex writing and this Oyster Sotto features the same dial layout as the model that was sold for over 1 million dollars at the Christies “Daytona: Lesson One” auction in November 2013. I believe this may well be the first time that a Mark I and Mark II have been seen together!!
Apart from these fine examples, Marlon also brought 4 of the finest models of Daytona with a Tiffany & Co. dial. Starting with a couple of better known ref. 6239 (black dial and big silver printing ‘Tiffany & Co.’ under the Rolex emblem, and black sigma dial with silver printing), to the same reference but with a very rare white tricolor dial (one of only 3 existing!), and… wait for it.. a unique black three colour dial retailed by Tiffany, also published in the ‘Ultimate Rolex Daytona’ book!
We love Daytonas, but let’s not forget that Rolex has many more iconic vintage models that are valued by all collectors. One of these examples is a rare Submariner 6200, the very first sub made with a big crown and an explorer dial with arabic tritium indexes for 3, 6 and 9. It’s a very minimalistic, there are no meters and no ‘Submariner’ text, as well as no minutes indicators on the bezel. Produced back in 1954 it’s considered to be the Ultimate “Big Crown” Submariner.
Another Sub Marlon brought along was the 6538 model, produced just after the mentioned 6200. It became famous after Sean Connery wore it in ‘Dr. No’, getting the reference its nickname ‘James Bond’ due to that fact. However that was not its only difference from the 6200 – it was the first Submatiner to be waterproof up to 200 meters. It features and oversized 8mm. crown, and a glossy dial with gilt graphic, closed minute track and luminous indexes. And finally, we have a very special Submariner, reference 5513, made for the U.K Military and nicknamed ‘Milsub’. As it was meant for the military the model had to be fitted with fixed bar lugs of a 2mm. diameter and the dial, of course, had to be easily readable. That’s why the watch features big ‘sword’ hands. And apart from this you can differentiate this reference with the letter ‘T’ on the dial, which is an international symbol for Tritium. And if one would inspect the caseback it would tell you how rare the watch is truly as it still features the original military broad arrow sign with a Ministry of Defense issue number and unit number! That is very uncommon as during the time that watch was manufactured very often Rolex would change casebacks so it is today extremely hard to find a caseback matching with the model.
Of course we simply can’t ignore yet another rare model from Rolex, but this time it’s not a Submariner or a Daytona – it’s the ref. 6541 Milgauss! Being the first of its kind in the 50’s the Milgauss was made to be used in high electro-magnetic radiation areas, such as research labs or power stations. With regular watches the effect of radiation would cause it to lose timekeeping accuracy, however with the Milgauss the impact was greatly reduced by the ‘Faraday Cage’ – when the movement was placed inside an iron inner case shielding it from the radiation. So this particular model is really a piece of history.
Now, here’s a Panerai… wait, what? I mean – here’s a Rolex inside a Panerai the ref 3646 with a Tropical brevettato case back was made by Rolex for the Italian navy’s special forces under Panerai instructions. This particular piece was made in 1938 and is extremely rare due to its glass caseback and a very unique dial colour (that faded into brown over the years). Next to it is another rare example of a ref. 3646 – the California. Also made for Italian navy it has a mix of Roman and Arabic numerals and it’s extremely hard nowadays to find such a well preserved example as this one!
I hope you enjoyed reading and educating yourself a little in the field of vintage Rolexes as much as I did while looking through Marlon’s pieces and writing the article!
Photos for WatchAnish.com by Adam Priscak