Three Unobtainable Rolexes Worth Knowing About

The object of this post isn't to engross you, my readers, with marvelous photographs of 6265 Daytonas, 5514 Submariners, and plenty morerelatively speakingrun-of-the-mill vintage Rolexes. The true object of this post is to present three insanely-rare Rolex watches that, unfortunately, few may ever have the opportunity to see in the metal. But, hey, don't let it get you down. At least these pieces can be appreciated here, right now and in digital form, on TWA! 

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date Ref. 1690 

Note: Every now and then, a piece-unique Rolex will show up in an important auction. The attention this watch will attract isn't necessarily positive. In some instances, questions will be raised concerning authenticity and originality.

The Rolex ref. 1690 is a Submariner-styled dive watch which, in 1982, was designed for the U.S. Marine Corp. The story goes that Rolex never carried out production; therefore, we've been left with close to no examples—just this one supposed prototype. Most of this Rolex's components seem to be legitimate, except for the case. Obviously, those crown guards are totally asymmetrical. And that bezel looks as if it came off a Tudor Prince-Quartz Oysterdate. Regardless, I'll leave it up to you to decide whether it's the real mccoy or not. I do know one thing: This Rolex is rare!

Rolex Explorer Display Model

Photo credit: Watch Anish

Last year, Anish Bhatt was given a tour of Fourtane's exceptional vintage Rolex collection. He shared the highlights of his horological adventure in a photo report posted on his lifestyle blog, Watch Anish. I'm definitely an admirer of the classic Explorer references, but when I saw the black-dial Explorer (pictured above), I was baffled. This is the world's only complete Rolex that DOES NOT house a movement. Basically, it's not even a watch. It doesn't tell time, nor does it contain any mechanical parts whatsoever. It's just an empty case, a set of hands, a crown, and a beautifully patina'd dial. I have to admit, I'd actually buy this thing! In the photograph below, you will notice that where the movement should be sit two wooden bits.

Rolex Cloisonné Dial Ref. 6101

I was at Christie’s New York December sale when the hammer came down at $425,000 for this time-only Rolex. Evidenced by the Cloisonné enamel dial portraying a map of North America, we’re not looking at just any Rolex. This watch’s original owner was a 15-year-old boy who had purchased this timepiece in 1953 while vacationing in Lucerne, Switzerland with his family. He was later mocked by peers upon wearing this watch to school because, according to Christie’s, it was “likened to a Mickey Mouse watch.” Now it ticks on the wrist of my friend Davide Parmegiani, an eminent dealer and collector. In contradiction to my title, this piece is obtainable, yet for a pretty penny.

All I can say is hold onto your watches, for one day they may be just as sought-after. If you've a Rolex (or any watch) as rare as these, click HERE to contact me directly and maybe your watch will be featured next!