Bezel & Barrel REVIEWS, NEWS, AND INFO FOR WATCH ENTHUSIASTS

Tru-Beat – Dead Seconds

Rolex tru-beat ref. 6556 sold by Tiffany & Co. (Image credit: Phillips Aucitons)

Tastes Looks like quartz! That’s the problem with this ultra rare Rolex complication. It’s an automatic movement moving along at 18,000 beats per hour, but the second hand moves, well, once per second. Just like a quartz movement.

And while Rolex did have a brief flirtation with quartz in the 1970s and 1980s, this watch ain’t it. Rolex introduced the Oyster Perpetual Tru-Beat, ref. 6556, in 1954, ostensibly for doctors and health care workers who apparently used it to accurately measure vital signs of their patients.

The market’s need for such a feature was apparently not what Rolex had calculated, and the watch disappeared from their catalog five years later. Thus, the rarity of the 6556 relative to other contemporary Rolex pieces. 

Rolex Tru-Beat (Image credit: Phillips Auctions)

But the short production run is not the only reason the watch is rare today. The Tru-Beat’s movement was Rolex calibre 1040. This was basically their calibre 1030 with additional components to create the dead-seconds function. Sadly, over the years watchmakers – allegedly including Rolex Service themselves – traded out the 1040 movement with the 1030 as 1040-specific parts became unavailable.

But every once in a while one surfaces, like this one last year at Phillips Auction One which fetched CHF37,500. And this one, which a lucky Hodinkee writer got to rework.

So keep your eyes peeled as you haunt garage sales and thrift stores. It’s easy to see where the uninitiated could think the Tru-Beat is a cheap quartz fake Rolex.

But you know better now, right?

 

-Ed Estlow

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