Three Rolex watches in particular leap to the forefront as we take a look at complicated Rolex watches from the past. The first two, ref. 8171 and ref. 6062, both feature moon phase complications. The last model, ref. 4113, is a split-second chronograph.
The Rolex ref. 8171 was produced between 1949 - 1952. The 38mm case is made up of three pieces. The bezel, the case middle or “carrure,” and the case back. The push back case is held into place by friction rather than threading (or a screw down case back used in modern Rolex watches today).
The Rolex ref. 8171 features a complete calendar with a moonphase complication. The white dial is a typical layout of complete calendars in the 1950s. It shows the day of the week and the month. The numerical date is shown on the outer ring of the dial by an arrow with a hand. There are four recessed push-pieces along the edges of the carrure to adjust the calendar. The pushes correlate as following:
- 2 o’clock adjust the month
- 4 o’clock adjusts the date
- 8 o’clcok adjusts the moon phase
- i0 o’clock adjusts the day of the week
This beautiful vintage model was nicknamed the Italian phrase “Padellone” which translates to large frying pan possibly due to its large size and slim case. It was distinctly oversized during its production time period. The 10.5” movement was not C.O.S.C. certified on the steel models as typically, only gold watches were sent in the Swiss Office of Chronometer Control at that time. This practice changed with the release of the ref. 6062.
Rolex released another complete calendar watch with a moon phase complication with ref. 6062. Its production ran from 1950 - 1953. These models were sent in to be C.O.S.C. certified as you can see on the dial with the phrase “Officially Certified.” Ref. 6062Made in only two pieces with a monobloc bezel and a screw down case back. Similar to the previous model, are the push pieces in correlation to Rolex ref. 8171.
The 36mm ref. 6062 was called the Cosmograph Oyster Perpetual. It didn’t have much success at the time, and only the gold models were in production until 1960. Very few models were produced and very few remain; thus the sales price on these models is mind-boggling. The last complicated vintage watch we’re going to take a look at was also produced in a very small quantity and was never available for public sale.
With only 12 models made, the final complicated Rolex watch from the past Rolex, reference 4113, is perhaps the rarest Rolex watch ever. Additionally, the split-second chronograph (Rattrappante) ref. 4113 was only produced in steel. It was produced during the midst of WWII in 1942. Of the original 12, three of the ref.4113’s location remain unknown.
The 44mm case is thin with a delicate bezel. There are two rectangular pushers and a coaxial button on the crown. The dial features applied indices with tachymeter and telemeter scales. Finally, twin hands at the 3 o'clock sundial relay the chronograph information. Rolex ref. 4113 measures the time of two events which start at the same moment but don’t stop at the same moment.
Rolex once again steps up to the challenge. The hands begin together. Then, you can stop one hand while the other continues. Another click causes the stopped hand to cat up to the first immediately as they continue. You can also reset the hands simultaneously or separately - quite the feat for the technology during that time.
Both ref. 8171 and ref. 6062 are notable for being the most complicated vintage Rolex watches powered by an in-house movement. Fast forward to today, and you can see elements of the moonphase design from the ref.8171 and the ref.6062 in the designs in the Rolex Cellini collection. The incredibly rare ref. 4113 split-seconds is one of a kind. Hodinkee goes as far as to call it “the ultimate Rolex Chronograph” as it is the only split-seconds chronograph Rolex ever made.