Rolex “James Bond” / “Big Crown” Submariner reference 6538 with "Four-Line Dial”
The Rolex Submariner reference 6538 with the oversized 8mm crown is among the most iconic and highly-coveted sports watches. Produced only in the latter part of the 1950s, the reference 6538 became famous on the late Sean Connery’s wrist while portraying James Bond in the 1962 film Dr. No. That moment and affiliation cemented the Rolex Submariner as the grail watch that so many people around the world hope to one day own.
This particular example is one of the rarest and most desirable versions, preserved in spectacular condition. The glossy dial is immaculate and is the rare and desirable “four-line” version showing the text “Officially Certified Chronometer” below the “200m = 660ft” depth rating and “SUBMARINER” text. These four-line versions were submitted to additional regulation at Rolex followed by intense testing by the Swiss Government to certify it as a “chronometer” (meaning it could gain no more than 6 seconds and lose no more than 4 seconds in a variety of positions and temperatures over the course of two weeks).
There is an estimated 10-20 examples of the non-chronometer two-line reference 6538 for every 1 example of the “Four-Line” chronometer-rated version we see. Those that follow the “Big Crown” market will know that these four-line versions are often relumed or in extremely rough condition given that the original purchasers often had a very specific tool-oriented reason to be paying the approximately 30% extra these watches originally cost for the more accurate chronometer-rated version. Collectors have long placed a significant premium on these “four-line versions” and they are the equivalent of the premium car collectors pay for the significantly more powerful, race-ready versions of supercars made in the past versus stock cars made for the general public.
Furthermore, this example features its original and extremely rare aluminum bezel insert with red triangle and no hash marks between 0 and 15 minutes. These inserts are found only on Submariners with cases produced in the 3rd quarter of 1957 across the 306,XXX to 307,XXX serial numbers. As one may imagine, a large percentage of the small number of watches made in the series have later replacement bezel inserts.
It has an automatic chronometer-certified movement (caliber 1030 made by Rolex). The exceptionally crisp case measures in at approximately 38mm in diameter.
This particular example featured in my ‘Reference Points: Understanding The Rolex Submariner’ video and corresponding article on HODINKEE. Eric Wind states, "We had some of the best examples of the Rolex Submariner ever assembled on that table and I was extremely honored to be able to include this exceptional watch. It is a trophy for someone who wants one of the best examples of a 'James Bond' Submariner with “Four-Line Dial” to come to market and especially relevant given the release of the No Time to Die film."
The watch was sold for over twice the high estimate at Christie’s New York in December of 2017 for $492,500 including the buyer’s premium. The watch was consigned by an estate buyer who purchased it prior to the auction with good provenance tying back to the original owner’s family. It was fresh to market at that time and sold on a strap. The collector who purchased it sourced a correct, tight and unpolished Rolex Swiss-made rivet bracelet from the same year (1957) with the correct and extremely rare 65 end links to complete the watch.
Curated by Wind Vintage. Ships separately. Please allow an additional 7-10 days for delivery.
Vintage watches are mechanical objects that can require service of the movements and all these watches have been worn in the past. Since these pieces are vintage or pre-owned, please expect wear and patina from past usage and age.
Mechanical watches do not keep perfect time like a battery-powered watch. In addition, they do require service occasionally and the service can be somewhat costly depending on what the watch requires for optimal timekeeping. Similar to vintage and new automobiles, regular maintenance and care is recommended for the lasting reliability of your timepiece.
Vintage watches are not water resistant and not waterproof, unless rigorously tested and certified otherwise. If dunked in water, the watch can flood and be destroyed. Water can also enter the watch in high humidity environments and damage the movement and dial as well as hands. We suggest not swimming with vintage watches or taking them in a sauna or similarly humid environment.
If dropped, mishandled or otherwise abused, the movement or other parts of the watch can be damaged. Please handle with care.
Care has been taken to try to ensure the watches are running and in good condition. Please note that all watches and items are offered and sold "as is". We hope you enjoy this item and wear it in good health for years to come!