Whenever the Rolex stainless steel reference 4113 split-seconds chronograph has appeared at auction it has always been a sensational horological event. The last two appearances have both resulted in a then new world record for a Rolex watch selling publicly. Scholarship tells us only twelve examples of reference 4113 were manufactured, and all were encased in stainless steel. From extensive research, three of the twelve examples have unknown whereabouts. All of the examples carry case numbers that range from 051’313 to 051’324, which means the present example was the second one made.The present watch bearing the serial 051’314 has been offered at auction twice, first at Christie’s New York in 1996 and the second time at Christie’s Geneva in 2013. Now in the “START-STOP-RESET” sale, this “crowned” gem graces the cover of this sale, and to many remains to be the most important Rolex wristwatch ever made by the firm.Interestingly, Rolex never offered this model directly to the public for sale. At the time, Rolex was active in sponsoring racing events, and our understanding is that this rare timepiece was presented to a select group of racing teams and their drivers. Some watches of the 4113 series have found their way to auction from descendants of team managers and racing drivers. In fact, one example surfaced at Christie’s London in 1991 from the original owner’s family. During his career he worked for a racing team with strong ties to the motorcar industry. Rolex was also closely associated with motor sports, and even sponsored Sir Malcolm Campbell, who made history while wearing a Rolex on his wrist during a competition. To collectors, reference 4113 is considered the ultimate top-of-the-line Rolex. In terms of originality and quality, this watch is presented in impressive overall condition and has remained virtually untouched since its last appearance at auction. It’s simply mesmerizing to stare at such a charismatic dial and think how impressive it is to have survived over seven decades with only a few signs of ageing to the surface. The dial is fitted with raised pink gold-colored Arabic and baton hour markers, and the surface has formed a subtle, elegant patina. The large, gentlemanly proportioned 44mm case is in remarkable condition, and retains the original satin finish throughout the side and back of the case. The bezel and raised portion of the lugs, however, displays a mirror-polished finish, which contrasts nicely with the rest of the case. It is clear upon closer examination that the watch is free of corrosion or restorations. Remarkably, reference 4113 has the largest diameter any Rolex wristwatch has ever received. To an educated and passionate collector of vintage Rolex wristwatches, the present reference 4113 epitomizes an opportunity not to be missed. All of the pieces that are accounted for of this extraordinary series are now in the hands of the world’s most prestigious and sophisticated private collections. The offering of this spectacular, coveted Rolex split-seconds chronograph is an event by itself, and a trophy that the most demanding collectors of vintage wristwatches should not miss.
An extremely rare, oversized and important stainless steel split-seconds chronograph wristwatch with silvered matte dial, pink gold raised Arabic and baton hour markers, outer blue telemeter and black tachometer scales.
Case, dial, movement and buckle signed
Case/Bracelet: The case is overall in truly crisp condition and we believe that it has never seen any polishing. Clearly the case shows all over very light surface marks, either caused by very rare wear, storage or handling. All the angles and edges are remarkably crisp. Some negligible knife marks on the left side from opening the caseback. The pushers are in excellent condition, still retaining the original bevels. The crown is in good condition and the co-axial pushers to activate the chronograph may be a vintage replacement. The unsigned leather bracelet is vintage and shows hardly any wear. Dial: The dial is overall absolutely untouched and in original condition. There are absolutely no signs that it has ever been cleaned or touched in any other way. The surface has very even pitting, more prominently between the telemeter and tachometer scale. To put things into perspective the most notable discoloration can be found at the bottom of the dial between “120” and “130” on the tachometer scale. Movement: The movement is running and overall very well preserved with hardly any signs of having ever seen a servicing or a cleaning as all the bridges, levers, and screw-heads are in unmarked condition. Some of the bridges show purplish brown oxidation. All the chronograph and split seconds functions perform precisely.
For a similar watch see 100 Superlative Rolex Watches, John Goldberger, pg. 62-63 and I Cronografi Rolex - La Leggenda, Pucci Papaleo Editore, pg. 144-147.