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Essaying The Rolex

We all have that dream of digging through your grandparents' attic to find a dusty old wristwatch.  In most cases, that never happens.  When it does, that watch is usually an Elgin (not knocking Elgin, just sayin there are a lot of em out there). Every now and then, when it does happen, the watch is important - like, say a split-seconds Patek Philippe chronograph retailed by Tiffany & Co.  The watch we have here is another one of those examples that is hard to believe, but true.

The watch you are looking at is the Rolex reference 6062, also known as the Rolex triple-date moonphase, or one of the most complex watches to ever bear the mighty crown on the dial.  It was produced from 1948-1953 in only 500 examples.  Rarely do you see them with "star" dials, which this one happens to have.  Even more rarely do you see them with the words "Officially Certified Chronometer" on the dial.  This one happens to have them.

But what trumps all these niceties of this particular 6062 is the condition.  Whoever purchased this watch likely took it home and, threw it in a sock, and let it sit there for the next 60 years (seriously, the watch was found in a sock, or so we're told.)  The case shows absolutely no signs of polishing - the oxidation to the 18k gold case means it likely sat in darkness for its life - and its dial is completely pure with bright blue date scale.  Included are the actual original crocodile strap and gold buckle from purchase, too.  Perhaps our favorite trait of this 6062 is the original "Super Oyster" crown, though.

Everything about this Rolex is original. Everything. And that, to a vintage Rolex collector, is as good as gold. The pre-sale estimate on this triple-date moonphase is $150,000-$200,000 and it will be sold this Friday via Christie's New York.  For more details on this truly exceptional Rolex, in our opinion the nicest 6062 to ever surface, click here.

Rolex is a storied brand — one of, if not the most notable in the watchmaking world.

So it's surprising how relatively little there is to know about the beginnings of the 100-plus-year-old brand. Even something as simple as where its name came from is shrouded in confusion.

Rolex, for its official brand story, plays it pretty simple. According the brand's official website, founder Hans Wilsdorf wanted his new brand of watches to have a short name that could be said in any language.

Most importantly, he wanted something that looked good on the watches themselves, and that was symmetrical in capital letters.

"I tried combining the letters of the alphabet in every possible way," Wilsdorf supposedly said, according to Rolex. "This gave me some hundred names, but none of them felt quite right. One morning, while riding on the upper deck of a horse-drawn omnibus along Cheapside in the City of London, a genie whispered 'Rolex' in my ear."

If that seems incomplete to you, you're not alone. Adding a bit of color to the story is a n essay in NYU's Stern Business School newsletter that claims that Wilsdorf also thought "Rolex" seemed like an onomatopoeia of a watch ticking.

So, basically it doesn't really mean anything. (Some have suggested that it's short for "horological excellence," but there's no proof that Wilsdorf ever claimed that.)

It also hides the brand's English roots, as the brand began in London in 1908 and moved to Geneva, Switzerland in 1919.