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AUCTION HIGHLIGHTS/Rolex

Rolex Reference 6085 "The Dragon"

10.19.16

The Geneva Watch Auction: FOUR, Lot 157

Rolex wristwatches fitted with cloisonné enamel dials are amongst the world’s most desirable collectible watches. Within these exquisitely rare and highly sought after watches, those depicting a dragon are considered the ultimate motif for the most discerning collectors.  During the 1950s, Rolex produced some of their most iconic cloisonné dial wristwatches in conjunction with world renowned Stern Frères dial makers of Geneva.

The present reference 6085 is an important Rolex wristwatch fitted with a spectacular cloisonné dial depicting the coveted dragon. The records of the legendary dial makers Stern Frères show that this dial, with serial number 103 (Rolex code at Stern) * (meaning made by Stern) and 770 (order number) on the back of the dial, was made by one of Geneva’s most acclaimed enamelers, Mrs. Nelly Richard, who worked with Stern to produce the dials of some of the most sought after Rolex watches to date. The dragon is a mythical creature depicted as a large, fire breathing reptile possessing great powers in many cultures, best known for its benevolent abilities, bringing prosperity, health, bountiful crops and granting wishes.

Fabricating such a polychrome, cloisonné enamel dial is amongst the most painstakingly difficult and labor intensive processes in watchmaking. The artist first marks out the outline of the motifs using a fine gold wire to separate the various enamel regions. Multiple enamel layers are applied depending on the desired colors, followed by numerous successive firing operations in a kiln serving to intensify the color and light effects as well as the gradation of the enamel. A dangerous process as at each firing the dial can break or the enamel may react differently to the heat, resulting in high rejection rates.

The colors of the dial are vibrant, radiating brightly with hues of orange and green that blend into a powerful representation of this legendary creature. Such exquisite dials were only fitted on Rolex’s most important watches. Scholarship indicates that only five Dragon dial models are known to date, each housed in a different reference making this example, a reference 6085, most likely unique. The present lot’s stunning beauty, uniqueness, and exceptional craftsmanship clearly demonstrate in every way that this was a true Rolex masterpiece when made in 1952. Over 60 years later, it remains a treasure worthy of crowning the world’s finest collections.

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