Who would have thought we would return to the planet of the fakes so soon? Barely two weeks have passed since my last exposé that ultimately forced Antiquorum to withdraw a fake “Rinaldi” Submariner Ref. 5510, but the incorrigible auction house is at it again. This time with what they describe as an “exceptionally” rare “Albino” Rolex Daytona Ref. 6239.
Long story short, “Albino” dial is fake, case and reference number engravings are fake too, movement is from a much earlier Daytona. This “Foulbino” is a so-called fake & franken watch, exceptional only in its degree of worthlessness. The findings you are about to see and read have been confirmed by the highest authorities of vintage Rolex Daytona collecting.
LOT 293 – Rolex Ref. 6239, Daytona Albino Big Red Dial – 1626271
Albino Daytona dials are extremely rare. According to scholarship, only four pieces are known to exist. Three pieces of Ref. 6263, among them the famous Eric Clapton watch with case number 2874334 that fetched CHF1,325,000 in 2015, and one Ref. 6239 with a case number in the 1.6 million range auctioned by Christie’s in London arund the year 2000. The latter was presented in Pucci Papaleo’s spectacular Ultimate Rolex Daytona book. According to the rarity of these pieces, Antiquorum set the estimate for their fake “Albino” between 700,000 and 1,200,000 Swiss Francs. Shameless!
Admittedly, the present “Albino” dial is well done – but not well enough. A comparison with the only existing Ref. 6239 example would have sufficed to detect the obvious issues. But there seems to be no due diligence at Antiquorum or they simply do not care whether the pieces are original or not.
Before anything else, let’s compare the case number engravings between the lugs at 6 o’clock. See the deviations? These fake engravings are some of the best I have seen so far but they are still off. The number 1 is quite obvious. Also the number 2 which is not as smooth as the original ones. Notice also the second 6 with double line on the original ones.
The engravings of 1626271 are fake beyond any doubt. Does that mean the case is fake too? Not necessarily. The case could be an original one, although heavily altered. The only known Rolex Daytona “Albino” Ref. 6239 has a case number in the 1.6 million range so to make the present fake & franken watch look more legit, the counterfeiters erased the original case number and reapplied a more fitting one. They could have bought a proper 1.6 million Daytona but these guys were too stingy.
A similar situation can be found between the lugs at 12 o’clock. The engravings are good but cannot fool the keen eye. The original ones correspond to the above shown case numbers from the very same 1.626 million batch.
Before getting into the dial, let’s have a quick look at the movement of this watch. For this case number range the correct movement would be a Rolex Cal. 722-1. Instead, the present watch features a Cal. 72B with serial number 6338 which can be found on Daytonas from the 1.19 million case number range.
Following the publication of this article, claims were made that this caliber – since it bears a serial number – must have been some sort of experimental prototype, used to see whether this type of movement could get chronometer certified (COSC). That is complete and utter nonsense! As you can see in the picture below, all Rolex 72B movements had serial numbers despite not being chronometer certified.
Until just recently, movements were not that important in vintage Rolex collecting but this is quickly changing as a result of my in-depth research. So-called “matching numbers” is the way to go now. A wrong movement can cut the value of a watch dramatically as a nonmatching caliber could also be an indication that the watch has been tinkered with.
Alright, so far we got fake engravings between the lugs and a movement that does not match the case number range. There can be no doubt that this watch has been messed around with, so why would a made-up piece of junk like this feature an exceptionally rare dial? Makes no sense, right?
Let’s have a closer look at the dial now. The first thing that captures the eye is of course the different Rolex logo and missing Cosmograph designation on the Antiquorum watch. That style of Rolex logo is from a different type of dial altogether. Making a 1:1 copy is extremely difficult, even if the art of printing has been mastered. To avoid comparisons and discussions, counterfeiters usually try to create something unique instead. I am not going to help them improve their techniques, so all I will say is the logo is way too perfect and lacks important details.
The soleil finish is all over the place, as is the dial colour. The original Albino dial is a completely different breed and looks super high tech from every perspective. A closer look at the subdials reveals the real issues. The azurage finish (ripples) on the fake “Albino” dial is lousy and imprecise. This effect creates the optical illusion of concentric circles but in reality it is actually a spiral with a beginning and an end. Just compare how the spirals run out at the edge (red arrows, bottom). On the original dial (top) it is barely noticable, on the Tuscan-made one it is very obvious. What has been seen cannot be unseen. It is the lack of quality and finish that unmasks this dial as the counterfeit it is.
Generally, all graphics are off, some more, some less. One big faux-pas happened with the 10 minutes marker in the 30 minutes sub dial (far right) whose position is way off.
Another detail the counterfeiters did not understand are the hands. Look at the hands on the original Albino which was auctioned 20 years ago in London. Those are Ref. 16520 hands! They were installed during a service or so. From what I gathered, when the pictures were taken for the book Ultimate Rolex Daytona, some argued the 16520 hands should be replaced with period correct ones but the author kept the watch in the very condition it was found in 2000.
The counterfeiters replicated this detail 1:1 believing it was a signature feature of the Albino but it is not! The hands alone are reason enough to dismiss the watch.
An interesting passage in Antiquorum’s description is the following:
Please note that the watch is currently at Rolex, Atelier de Restoration in Geneva for an overhaul estimate and will be available around June 2021.
Antiquorum is implying Rolex accepted the watch for an overhaul and therefore it must be legit. This is an outrageous and never before seen attempt at using Rolex’s good name – most certainly without their consent nor knowledge – to push a highend fake.
Anybody can bring his Rolex to Geneva and ask for an overhaul estimate. If the watch does not look fake at first glance – as in this case – Rolex will take it in and analyse it in detail before deciding whether to accept the watch for an overhaul. If a watch is accepted, the customer will receive an overhaul estimate. This has not happened yet and I doubt Rolex will be fooled by this watch. By the way, even if the customer receives the letter with the estimate, there is no guarantee that the watch is authentic. Rolex will still state:
“This quote is intended to inform the Client on the price of a service. It does not attest to or guarantee the authenticity of a watch.”
Watch dealers often ask Rolex for overhaul estimates without any intention to service a watch. The estimate letters are then used as proof that a watch is legit but as you can see, Rolex does not guarantee the authenticity of a watch they have not serviced.
To conclude on the “Albino”, I will leave you with another amazing picture of the only existing Ref. 6239 “Albino”. Enjoy the perfection.
So the question is, who is responsible for this fake? There are many rumours but I will not go there. However, I noticed over the past few months that one particular dealer from the Tuscan seaside has dealt a number of reengraved Rolex Daytonas featuring an almost identical fake typeface as seen above. The comparison below shows one of those watches, a Rolex Daytona Ref. 6240 from the 1.65 million range (165XXXX). The fake engravings are very similar. In the 1.65 million range there are two batches of Ref. 6240, one featuring Typeface A (1658493) and one engraved with Typeface B (1659487). Both are considerably different.
Here is another beauty currently on sale with that dealer. A Rolex Daytona Ref. 6263. The case number engravings are completely off for this batch of Daytonas. There are two batches of Rolex Daytonas in this case number range, a Ref. 6263 batch and a Ref. 6265 batch. All original pieces from the 4.13 million range featured a new typeface (Typeface C) that was introduced around case number 4.0 million.
What is the deal with reengraving watches? In most cases it is done to match the watches to loose papers that are being sold on specific whatsapp groups. A watch with papers can easily be turned into a so-called full set, something that will command a much higher price. Then there are of course the stolen watches which require new numbers to become “legal”.
Anyway, in addition to the above issues, in February 2021 it was brought to my attention that the very same dealer had taken over a Rolex Ref. 6150 Pre Explorer in a trade for a Tudor Ref. 7928 with tropical dial. According to the ex owner of the 6150, the lume of his watch had been reapplied at least twice. The dial was dead on the geiger counter, something he had disclosed to the dealer. The Tuscan dealer was unbothered by this fact. Weeks after, the ex owner spotted the 6150 on the dealer’s microsite on a major watch selling platform. The listing implied the watch was untouched and still radioactive (video proof was provided later). The previous owner also noticed the case had been recut/repolished. I reached out to the platform owner and the watch was immediately removed. The dealer then claimed the watch had been radioactive all along and that the previous owner had used a wrong instrument. This very watch with case number 944925 is now on sale with Antiquorum, in the same auction as the fake “Albino”.
LOT 397 – Rolex, Ref. 6150, Pre Explorer, 3-6-9 Chapter Ring, Gilt Dial, 944925
As you can see in the comparison below, the 6150 was clearly relumed, possibly with radium.
The next picture was provided by the previous owner and shows the dial condition in late 2019. As you can see, the dial was badly relumed. It was then again repainted before it was bought by the previous owner.
The Antiquorum listing states the dial is “very well conserved”, “very good” and “patinated”. No mentioning of a relume job with radioactive material nor that the case was recut/repolished. The hands are described as original, even though they clearly are service parts.
I think this speaks for itself. Rumour has it, the dealer in question sold lots of Rolex Daytonas in 18k gold with completely fake cases. We are investigating this matter as we speak. Antiquorum would not be Antiquorum if there weren’t more fakes around, right? So here we go.
LOT 294 – Rolex, ReF. 6240, RCO Dial so called “Oyster Sotto”
The RCO variant of the Rolex Daytona which is also known under the Italian nickname “Oyster Sotto” (Oyster Underneath) is a particularly rare and sought-after beast. RCO is short for “Rolex Cosmograph Oyster”. The story goes Rolex added the word Oyster underneath Rolex Cosmograph on already finished dials. This occured with the introduction of the screw-down pushers, when Rolex began to feel comfortable designating the Rolex Daytona Cosmograph an Oyster. In reality, the Daytona had always been an Oyster with a depth rating of 165 ft/50 m. The only issue were the push-down pushers which could be accidentally engaged underwater resulting in a water damage. The screw-down pushers did not increase the water resistance, they were merely a mechanical lock.
With Lot 294, Antiquorum is seemingly offering one of these rare watches. Problem is, the Oyster print was indeed added later, much much later, probably a few months ago. Meaning, this is not a real “Oyster Sotto”. The Oyster print with exagerated serifes everywhere looks cartoonish, unreal. It screams “look, we mastered the serifes”. Speaking of unreal, the plastic bezel insert of this watch is without a doubt fake. Original inserts bear details which have not been replicated yet and I will not go into more detail about this. If you know, you know.
The base dial that was used to create this fake “Oyster Sotto” appears to be original. I deliberately say “appears” cause given the skills these counterfeiters have developed, all graphics could very well be fake. In addition to the fake Oyster print, the counterfeiters added two dashes before and after T SWISS T (designation for tritium lume) to create the illusion of the earliest “Oyster Sotto” dial ever made. The dashes were a special designation for steel markers as opposed to precious metal markers (Sigma symbol). In my extensive vintage Daytona database with over 8,000 documented watches, I have not found any original dials with identical graphics that feature the dashes. In addition, the position and angle of the dashes is extremely awkward. Dashes like this are unheard of.
If you look closely at the Cosmograph print, you will notice that some of the letters are awkwardly thickened in certain areas, as if it was double printed. So far I have not seen anything similar.
The lume plots are quite interesting as well. There is an awkward dark ring around each plot and some of the plots look as if they somehow melted onto the dial surface. Similar dark rings around the lume plots can also be found on the “Albino”. I do not recall seeing this on other dials.
Could this be an indication that both dials were made by the very same counterfeiter?
As mentioned earlier, I discussed these fakes with top Daytona experts. Some believe it would not be good for the market to expose counterfeits of this elevated quality as collectors could lose confidence and prices may collapse as a result. It would be better to let these fakes slip through even if someone gets burned. I strongly disagree! This was exactly the modus operandi for the past 20 years, before Perezcope was established.
Yes, the risk that the market could take a hit as a result of these high quality fakes is very real. But keeping quiet is not going to solve anything. Silence will only intensify the problem. There is simply too much money to be made and the people involved are unscrupulous. I will continue to work hard to identify as many fakes as possible in order to protect what I love dearly, watches and their history.
Thank you for your interest.