Antiquorum – the embattlet Swiss auction house fighting for survival after having been exposed on several occasions for selling fake and made-up watches – has announced an online christmas sale for Dec. 12, 2018. The auction will take place at 7:00 pm Hong Kong local time.
As expected, some of the listed pieces are once again highly questionable or maybe even outright fraud. Another thing I noticed, Antiquorum does not list the case numbers of the watches anymore. This could be interpreted as a clear attempt to prevent watch collectors and scholars from doing research.
LOT 275 – ROLEX, REF, 6239, COSMOGRAPH DAYTONA WITH TIFFANY DIAL AND COLOUR CHANGING SUB-DIALS, STEEL
Reference: Rolex 6239
Dial: Silver Rolex Cosmograph Daytona with Tiffany & Co. print
Case number: 1958614
Estimate: USD 79,200 – 113,200
Auction link: LOT 275 ROLEX, REF, 6239, Cosmograph Daytona with Tiffany dial and colour changing sub-dials, steel
The present watch features a sought-after Tiffany & Co. signed dial, implying it was retailed by the famous American luxury jewelry and speciality retailer.
I assume this watch comes without papers, as nothing was mentioned, but in this case number range there is an easy way to check whether the watch was made for the American market or not. Movements of this period should be stamped with the American import code “ROW”. More on this later.
The dial of this watch is silver with black Daytona print above the 6 o’clock sub register. What makes this dial so special is the Tiffany & Co. print. The picture below shows the sought-after print in detail.
As many of you know, I’ve built the largest and most advanced independent vintage Rolex Daytona database in the world. More than 8,000 well documented chronographs are registered so far. In my database, the Tiffany & Co. logos of this particular era (1969) are printed with a completely different typeface than the one above.
I searched my database thoroughly – and of course also the internet – but I could not find another silver dial with this specific Tiffany & Co. print. Neither on Ref. 6239 nor on Ref. 6241 nor on Ref. 6262/6264 for that matter. The first Daytona dials with this type of print appear much later on Ref. 6263 and Ref. 6265 according to my data.
Needless to say my first thought was the print must be fake. But first thoughts cannot and should not always be trusted. Although my database is filled with an abundance of data, it is nevertheless possible that important records are still missing to be able to fully assess this particular case properly. For this reason, I double checked with an Italian Tiffany connoisseur. In his opinion the Tiffany & Co. print on this dial is legit.
However, compared to what you are about to witness next, the dial issue is a walk in the park.
Let’s forget about the dial for now and focus solely on the Cal. 722 movement of this watch instead. As mentioned above, Rolex movements of this period that were imported to the USA should bear the American import stamp “ROW” on the balance cock.
The following picture shows the movement of another Tiffany & Co. retailed Daytona. Can you see the “ROW” hallmark on the balance cock?
Alright, let’s have a look at the movement in question. Surprise! No “ROW” hallmark on the balance cock. Apropos balance cock… Something does not look right, does it?
The correct caliber for this type of Daytona would be a 722-1 and not a 722. Cal. 722-1 was a slightly improved version of Cal. 722. The main difference is the hairspring guard which protects the hairspring in case of a shock.
A comparison with a proper Rolex Cal. 722-1 only 275 case numbers away shows that several things are wrong with the movement in question.
First of all, as mentioned above, the balance cock does not look right. The reason for this is simple. This balance cock (1) is not from a Rolex Cal. 722 nor 722-1 but probably from a standard Valjoux 72 made for Longines, Heuer or Breitling. Rolex Daytonas of this case number range were equipped with the KIF shock protection system, and never with Incabloc. The typeface for the caliber stamp “722” (2) looks strange too and is probably fake. Have a look at the typical Rolex casing screw (3) on the left. Another surprise! That’s not a Rolex barrel bridge! This movement is cased at the regular Valjoux 72 points (4, 5).
Everything becomes clearer now. Have a look at the missing bevels (6, 7) on the train gear bridge. This happens when the bridge was sanded down to remove old engravings! The ‘Swiss Made Fabr. Suisse” inscription (8) is not following the bridge curve properly and is badly executed. The operating lever spring (9) has a poor finish compared to the original Rolex 722-1. All levers have the same poor finish.
Let’s look at the other side now. As mentioned, the balance cock (1) is from a standard Valjoux 72 made for another brand. Original Rolex barrel bridges were customized for Rolex’s very own way of casing (2). The barrel bridge in question is without the shadow of a doubt from a standard Valjoux 72.
The chronograph train gear bridge with the iconic Y shape (3) appears to be the only original Rolex part on this movement. However, the bridge is not period correct for this case number range. The hammer (4) has a standard Valjoux 72 finish without bevelling (anglage) and is not according to Rolex standards.
The next two pictures tells the story of this movement. They used a standard Valjoux 72 made for Longines, Heuer or similar as a base. As you can see, the balance cock with Incabloc shock protection (1) and distinctive +/- engravings is exactly the same. The Valjoux logo (R for Reymond Frères SA) and caliber denomination 72 were removed.
The alternative casing holes (3) on the standard barrel bridge are identical. The movement was cased using the standard casing holes (4, 5). The original engravings on the train gear bridge were removed by sanding down the bridge. As a result, the bevels around the screw holes and jewels (6, 7) are completely gone. New engravings were applied (8) to make it look like a Rolex bridge.
Same balance cock (1) with +/- engravings and Incabloc shock protection. Alternative casing holes (2) on an almost identical Valjoux 72 barrel bridge. The Y-shaped chronograph train gear bridge (3) is probably from an original Rolex movement, but not period correct for this particular case number range.
I think this speaks for itself. The movement in question is not an original Rolex 722 caliber. It is a standard Valjoux 72 that was modified/altered to deceive people.
In their grading system – in which they take big pride in btw – Antiquorum describes this movement as:
2* Very good
According to Antiquorum, the * stands for “overhaul recommended, at buyer’s expense”.
Case & Caseback
The case of this watch appears to be original. The case number engravings between the lugs at 6 o’clock look ok.
During this period, Rolex used two different typefaces for the engravings. Depending on the batch, they used either Typeface A or Typeface B. This case was engraved using Typeface B.
Read more: The Secrets of Rolex Case Number Engravings
The reference number 6239 between the lugs at 12 o’clock is usually engraved with the same typeface.
Ref. 6239 with typical Rolex hallmarks.
Describing a fake Rolex movement as “very good” shows how incompetent the people led by Antiquorum CEO Romain Rea must be. And it better be incompetency cause the alternative would be outright fraud.
During the past eight months, I have exposed a series of made-up and fake watches sold or offered by Antiquorum. The embattled auction house never came forward to make a statement. Instead, I have been continuously harassed and attacked by Instagram trolls who literally acted as spokesmen of Antiquorum, even to the extent of sharing screenshots of Whatsapp conversations with Antiquorum CEO Romain Rea.
Coincidence? I don’t think so. This clearly suggests these people are in touch with each other.
If true, dealers and collectors should take a stand against this way of doing “business” and perhaps they should also consider boycotting Antiquorum for the time being.
Antiquorum’s troll spokesmen are spreading conspiracy theories that my exposés are part of war between auction houses. This is the biggest nonsense I have ever heard. Why would market leaders engage in a war against an auction house at the bottom of the table that offers only trash? Again, makes no sense. This could be compared to Usain Bolt trying to sabotage the white guy who finishes always last.
Let’s see Antiquorum’s reaction this time. Will they come forward and withdraw the watch or will they once again send their trolls?
LOT 274 – ROLEX, REF 1665, SEA-DWELLER, STEEL THE SINGLE RED PROTOTYPE – PATENT PENDING – 500M-1650FT – ONE OF SIX KNOWN
Reference: Rolex 1665
Dial: Single Red Sea-Dweller (red), Submariner 500 m – 1650 ft, SCOC
Case number: 1759659
Estimate: USD 200,000 – 400,000
Auction link: ROLEX, REF 1665, SEA-DWELLER, Steel The Single Red Prototype – Patent Pending – 500M-1650FT – One of six known (Antiquorum)
The present watch is an early Sea-Dweller Ref. 1665 with sought-after Single Red Sea-Dweller dial and without helium valve. The majority of Sea-Dwellers with this type of dial were awarded by Rolex to hand-picked undersea exploration pioneers in the late 1960s. The most famous watches belonged to members of US Navy SEALAB 3, Tektite 1 or Deepstar 4000. Some had a helium valve, others don’t, depending on the field of application and whether helium as a breathing gas was used or not.
Antiquorum claims this is one of six known watches. This statement is not accurate. As a matter of fact, there are at least 11 known Sea-Dwellers with this type of dial.
Read more: All Single Red Sea-Dwellers, Side-By-Side
The earliest Single Red Sea-Dweller registered in my database has case number 1602913 and belonged to Deepstar 4000 pilot Robert Palmer Bradley. According to John Goldberger, Bradley’s watch is only the third earliest example. Watches belonging to this case number range were the very first Rolex Sea-Dwellers.
With case number 1759659, the watch in question still is an early example but far away from the first Sea-Dwellers. Other Sea-Dwellers in this case number range have “Double Red” dials. It is unknown why this watch has a Single Red dial instead.
There is another Single Red Sea-Dweller with even later case number 1820177. That particular watch was found in the late 1990s at the estate of Dr. Ralph W. Brauer after his passing. In 1968, Dr. Brauer took part in several COMEX experiments, together with COMEX founder Henri-German Delauze. The late case number of Dr. Brauer’s watch gives me headache but the provenance is undisputable.
Single Red Dial & Hands
The Single Red dial of this watch appears to be original but its condition is obviously not the best. It looks like at some point it suffered a water damage, resulting in partially washed off lume plots. The surface has developed some sort of blistering, especially around the edge of the dial.
Regardless of its condition, an original Single Red dial like this is ultra rare. As mentioned, only 11 pieces are registered in my database, including this one.
Read more: All Single Red Sea-Dwellers, Side-By-Side
The hands of this watch do not match the condition of the dial and appear to be relumed. There is no sign of natural aging around the edges where the lume touches the skeletonized hands, as seen on other examples.
Case & Caseback
As mentioned above, this watch does not have the helium valve, the very gadget that makes a Sea-Dweller ultimately a Sea-Dweller. Sea-Dwellers without valve are extremely rare and were possibly made for compressed air divers who required a more rugged diving watch.
However, in the 1,7 million case number range there are a few Rolex Sea-Dwellers without helium valve. All, without exception, have a “Double Red” dial. The watch in question is the only watch featuring a “Single Red” dial.
For some reason, Antiquorum mentions “Patent Pending” in their description but the caseback of this watch has no such engravings. As you can see, the caseback is plain without any inscription.
“Patent Pending” refers to the caseback engravings on early Sea-Dwellers featuring a helium valve. Most of these watches were given to professional divers for testing purposes. Rolex filed the patent for the helium valve on Nov. 6, 1967 but for some reason, the patent was only issued much later on June 15, 1970. Due to this delay, the Sea-Dweller was only introduced to the public in 1971.
The watch in question has nothing to do with “Patent Pending” since it does not have a valve to begin with. The only place where Pat. Pend. (Patent Pending) is mentioned on this watch is on the diver’s extension of the clasp.
The inside of the caseback bears typical Rolex Ref. 1665 hallmarks. Most watches in this and later serial number ranges have casebacks with production stamp IV.67 (4th quarter of 1967).
An interesting observation in this case number range is the fact that some watches, especially those with a helium valve, have the last three case number digits engraved onto the inner caseback.
These casebacks were pre-produced in 1967 but since the development of Ref. 1665 came to a complete halt for almost four years, Rolex used these parts also for much later Ref. 1665 cases. Watches in the 2,1 million range have also IV.67 stamped casebacks. This date stamp is therefore no real indication for the actual production date of the watch.
The Rolex Cal. 1570 with serial number D8229517 does not match the case number. This movement is probably from the late 1970s/early 1980s.
Original Single Red Sea-Dweller movements bear the American import stamp “ROW” on the balance cock, for the simple reason that most awarded explorers were American citizens or involved in American projects.
My gut feeling tells me this watch was possibly assembled from loose parts. The dial looks like it suffered a water damage or was stored in a humid place. Sea-Dwellers in this case number range, which do not feature a helium valve, have more common “Double Red” dials. The hands have probably been relumed to match the dial patina. Movement and case number do not match either since the movement is from a much later batch of Cal. 1570.
In addition, this watch has zero provenance. Who owned it? Where did it come from? Original Single Red Sea-Dwellers are historically important Rolex diving watches, awarded to selected pioneers of undersea exploration.
Logic says, Sea-Dwellers of this case number range were assembled and delivered after the 2,1 million Sea-Dwellers (1971/72). Let me elaborate. Sea-Dwellers in the 2,1 million range featuring a helium valve have casebacks with “Patent Pending” engravings while watches in the 1,7 million range have casebacks with the inscription “Rolex Patent”. This is a very clear indication the latter were assembled after the patent was granted.
Case number 1759662 for instance, which is only 3 numbers away from the watch in question (1759659), bears the engravings “A. T. 3/8/74” on the caseback, implying the watch was gifted in 1974. Please click the link below to explore 1759662 and read the condition report.
Auction link: LOT 147 – Rolex “Double Red” Sea-Dweller 1759662 (Sotheby’s)
The one million dollar question is, why would a watch that was most certainly assembled and delivered after 1972 have a “Single Red” dial? This is a rhetorical question but I am sure Romain Rea, or one of his troll spokesmen, will come up with a “good” answer.
I suspect this watch was authenticated by Romain Rea for a famous watch fund. The same watch was offered in May 2015 by a dealer based in Luxemburg. Later in May 2017, the watch came to auction with Antiquorum but remained unsold. Collectors and dealers are aware of this Sea-Dweller but to them it is obviously not worth their money nor their time.
Thank you for your interest.
This is an incredible article. When ever I think I know a bit about watches, guys like this blow my mind. There are not enough hours for me to learn so much about Rolex. Your attention to detail is staggering and I hope to see more articles like this.
Keep up the great work!!
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Thank you for your feedback Eric.
This reminds me of ‘ringing’ cars. Enough is done to pass off but all the small details that very few ‘see’ or even know about are left as tell tails. Only a true expert in the field can see these ‘faults’ as the knowledge and experience necessary are so mind blowing that even those who think they know cannot conceal the traces they have left behind. This is truly great forensic work in exposing what is going on.
It is also a totally captivating and fascinating article to look through. Thank you for this and more please.