Christie's recently released the catalogue for their November Geneva sale. Many of the highlights exceeded my expectations of what would be consigned at a biannual auction, such as the inclusion of many fine and rare chronographs from Eberhard, Longines, and Omega. In addition, a small collection of Stella dial and highly-jeweled variants of the Rolex Day-Date will be featured. In my opinion, the most important pieces of the sale are three exceptional white dial Rolexes: An early 6204 Submariner, a 6610 Explorer, and a 6556 Tru-Beat.
How on earth could a simple white dial cause a $40,000 watch to turn into a $200,000 rarity? Well, first of all, let's address the fact that the aforementioned three watches are already considered highly-collectible. Furthermore, white dials are just not often seen on vintage Rolex sports models, with the exception of the 16550 Explorer II.
A ROLEX 6204 "ALBINO" SUBMARINER, CIRCA 1954
According to Christie's, this wristwatch may very well be the only 6204 Submariner fitted with a white dial to ever appear in an auction. Much of this piece's value can be attributed to the remarkably rare white dial. The fine condition of the riveted bracelet and steel case, and the originality of the turn-o-graph bezel, no doubt augment the appeal of this Sub as an investment opportunity. All in all, I feel that Christie's set a good estimate and this will be an easy sell.
Estimate: USD $120,000-$220,000
A ROLEX 6610 "ALBINO" EXPLORER I, CIRCA 1956
Enter the sensational 6610 Albino. Its steel, barely polished, brevet oyster case is in flawless fettle and the oyster stretch bracelet remains intact without any spacing between links. The dial, aside from its color, is no different in layout or proportion than the black dials of the succeeding 1016's. Want to know something cool? Though the dial is a bit spotty up close, it's far more legible than the dial of the 6610 that sold last year at Christie's for over $180,000. Everything from the hour markers to the font on the dial is bolder. So just imagine how much this beauty will go for....
Estimate: USD $56,000-$110,000
A ROLEX 6556 TRU-BEAT, CIRCA 1955
So what is the Rolex Tru-Beat? It's just a Rolex Oyster Perpetual with a souped-up caliber 1030 movement, honestly. Kind of like the Rolex Commando, Rolex's no-frills take on the 1016 Explorer, the Tru-Beat is one of those pretty standard watches that has transformed into somewhat of a big-ticket vintage Rolex. What Rolex did was modify the caliber 1030 with a dead beat jump seconds mechanism (ticks like a quartz watch, but it's still an automatic). The result: A caliber 1040. The estimate is quite fair for such a seldom-seen wristwatch.
Estimate: USD $12,000-$17,000