More late-night/early morning banter around the water-cooler at Monochrome-Watches.com HQ saw us kicking around makes and models of upcoming purchases. When the subject of Rolex Day-Date came up folks immediately gasped at the thought a lump of solid gold or platinum. That’s when one of the rarest of the rare Rolies came to my aid to provide a top-trumps answer; the 1959 ‘6611 – the stainless steel Day-Date!
The Rolex family tree is littered with so many branches that stopped baring fruit or lead off to nowhere that it makes the process of researching the brand a seemingly hopeless process! The fact that there is no official history means that what we know about the brand and it’s many, many, many variants is the consensus of independent researchers like Mondani family, the likes of James Dowling and Jeffrey Hess and the back offices of the world’s auction houses. (I probably should have asked the CEO to address this issue when I spoke to him last spring!)
Sure, we all know the 18xxx models (see photo above), seen so often on the wrists of captains of industry, heads of state and television mobsters. The Rolex Day-Date was first seen by the public in 1956 as the 6511 and immediately took up the mantle of Top of the Line. The 6511 was followed by the 6611. The 6611 physically resembled the 6511 and the Day-Date of today with it’s famous ‘Day’ window at 12 o’clock and date at 3 o’clock. Where it differed from the 6511 was in the gearing of the movement – boring stuff – gears and things. But that’s not really the point I want to make here.
The real jewel of the 6611’s run appears so briefly that if you ‘BLINK’ you’ll miss it. People who have read some of the great books on the histories of the Rolex models may have seen footnotes or parenthetical references to an ‘entry level’ spec version of the Day-Date made in stainless steel! According to Antiquorum, only SIX, (that’s right six as in: If Frank Geelen buys a dozen donuts and leaves them where I can get to them, by the time he puts down his car keys and hat there are only 1,2,3,4,5,6 left!) were produced. Rare!
At auction in October 2002, one of the six stainless examples of the Day-Date, fitted to a plain-Jane Oyster bracelet sold for 50,600 CHF! (see here)
Quote from Antiquorum auction: Engraved on the case back: “Ecole d’Horlogerie de Genève – 1963” and the Rolex logo. Small series of these watches were givens as prizes to the best students of the Geneva school of Horologery. This watch was produced in only six examples in stainless steel because a marketing test with different metals showed that there was a considerable potential demand for pieces in gold. Rolex therefore stopped production of the steel watches, producing this reference only in precious metals.
The outright rarity the stainless 6611 allowed it to outstrip prices achieved by more commonly recognizable gold and platinum versions. See – more precious than gold!
No donuts were harmed in the writing of this article.
The last images is courtesy the RLXDD blog by Dale Vito.