Monochrome Watches
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Rolex Predictions 2021 – Our Wish for the Return of the Rolex “Killy”

Our wish for a more complex, more elegant chronograph!

| By Frank Geelen | 4 min read |
Rolex Predictions 2021 - Return of the Rolex Dato Compax Jean Claude Killy

Dear Mr Dufour… is how I envisioned starting our last Rolex prediction for 2021. Especially because it’s not really a prediction like our other predictions – of which quite a few have become a reality in the past years. No, this one is rather wishful thinking, a desire, a hope for something complicated yet elegant, like the ‘Killy’. So here we go… Dear Mr Dufour, would it be possible to recreate something in the same vein as the Dato-Compax, the so-called “Jean-Claude Killy Chronograph”? 

Rolex Killy
Rolex Killy (Photo by Bexsonn)

Although Rolex is considered the epitome of “luxury” when it comes to wristwatches, the brand has a solid, utilitarian DNA. The brand that Hans Wilsdorf founded more than a century ago aimed to manufacture very accurate, reliable and sturdy timepieces. Whether you wanted to climb Mount Everest (Explorer) or swim the English channel (Oyster case), Rolex had a watch for you. Whether you were a pilot, in need of a second time zone (GMT-Master), an engineer working in a laboratory with strong magnetic fields (Milgauss), a professional diver who didn’t want to see the glass pop off his watch when ascending (Sea-Dweller), a racer who had to measure lap times (Daytona), Rolex had you covered.

Rolex invented the automatic winding rotor as we know it today, rotating a full 360 degrees, which is how pretty much all automatic watches today are “charged”. A pretty practical invention to say the least. 

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Maybe we don’t always realize how different the watch industry was before the quartz crisis. Most watches were meant to be daily time-telling tools. Functional, reliable, daily instruments. And as such, the Rolex Dato-Compax, mostly known as the “Killy”, was maybe a bit of a rare bird in Rolex’s collection. Indeed, the Killy featured a chronograph and a triple calendar.

Rolex Killy
Rolex Killy (Photo by Bexsonn)

Originally introduced in 1947 as reference 4767, it was Rolex’s first water-resistant watch with a chronograph and triple calendar. The Oyster Dato-Compax models came in four references 4767, 5036, 6036 and 6236, but there’s one reference that didn’t come in an Oyster case that collectors also refer to as “Killy”: reference 4768. The Oyster Dato-Compax watches were manufactured in yellow gold, pink gold and stainless steel. These four/five references are commonly known as the “Jean-Claude Killy”, nicknamed after the French Olympic and World Cup skiing champion.

Strangely enough, while the watch gets its nickname from Mr Jean-Claude Killy, he featured in Rolex ads and promotions wearing a Day-Date and an Explorer II. There’s almost no photographic evidence of him ever wearing an Oyster Dato-Compax.

At the MONOCHROME offices, we have been long-time fans of the brand, and we celebrate Rolex’s history. Unlike some who are fond of Rolex, we do not praise a broken dial and suddenly call it a spiderweb dial. A broken dial is a broken dial. We praise the diversity in models, the admirable consistency in design and its ability to remain true to the original vocation of the brand… and we love the Killy…

Photo courtesy Mr. Watchley

Now, Mr Dufour, would it be possible to take a modern-day Daytona, keep its automatic movement, strip off its ceramic bezel, remove the crown guards, replace the screw-down pushers with old-fashioned pump-pushers, as a basis? And would it be possible to add a calendar function, in the same vein as the Killy, with two apertures for the day and the month, while a fourth centrally mounted hand indicates the date? How nice would that be? We thought we would love it, so we messed a bit with Photoshop and guess what… We really love it!

Rolex Predictions 2021 - Return of the Rolex Dato Compax Jean Claude Killy

I can imagine more treasures from the past appearing, for instance, as annual limited editions. Not to add these to the regular collection, but simply to celebrate the brand and its legacy. I’m sure I’m not the only one who would love to see a nice reissue of a no-crown-guard Submariner or a pre-Daytona chronograph.

Rolex Predictions 2021 - Return of the Rolex Dato Compax Jean Claude Killy

Since Rolex is pretty consistent in terms of design, it would not be too difficult to create a modernised version of the aforementioned models. But back to the oh-so-cool Killy, which we have imagined in these mock-ups. One in yellow gold and one in stainless steel, coming on a brushed Oyster bracelet with polished centre links. For the hands, we choose the regular batons. Ticking inside, of course, the tried-and-tested regular Daytona movement, calibre 4130. Maybe a calendar module on top, although we realise this is blasphemy at Rolex. But for a limited edition it could work…? And can everyone from our team already place an order? Thank you, Mr Dufour.

Note: this article is based on our own Photoshop mock-ups, nothing has been provided officially from Rolex. These Rolex Predictions 2021 are based on our imagination and expectations. All images are under license of MONOCHROME and should not be used without agreement (©MONOCHROME Watches 2021).

14 responses

  1. I’d love to see this! I’d also love to see Rolex bring back domed (sapphire) crystals across their range.

  2. That “Killy” model didn’t have a Rolex Manufacture movement, it was a movement outsourced from Valjoux, the VAL 72c. Rolex, as good as it is, doesn’t have the Horological prowess or guts to explore outside from the bread and butter of their offerings. And when they get a movement from outside sources that has more advanced or extreme features, Rolex downgrades it, like they did with El Primero- from 36000 vph to 28800 vph……. I myself am more than happy with the Chronograph offerings from Zenith, Ulysse Nardin, Omega, Jaeger Le-Coultre, Breitling and Seiko to name just a few, which have more exciting offerings than Rolex at all levels.

  3. In gold it looks horrendous, in steel very busy. If you squeeze a GMT hand on somehow it would be a one watch collection that could do everything!

  4. Yes please, if you can persuade Rolex to produce this watch I’ll sign up for one. A really beauty.

  5. Great fun to guess at what could be. The original triple calendar is a gorgeous watch; the mock-up in the article I hope never happens-sorry-it’s just all wrong & maybe shows why not all vintage watches shouldn’t be reimagined for the modern era.

    I enjoyed the reference to some publications calling a cracked dial a ‘spider’ dial. Those publications use a plethora of similarly misleading descriptions & I notice that when they sell watches they manage to create a nickname for just about every model. I’m waiting to read about the extra special & highly sought after amongst collectors ‘Joe Bloggs’ Submariner, the one that had a production running into the millions with no rare features whatsoever so hurry before it’s sold!!

  6. Rolex should run sales through Geneva on a deposit with ID and verified customer / end user payment.
    Pick your new watch up at your local AD who give you the handover experience and sell you on their service products. Pay them a unit commission for doing so.
    It’s a joke that people looking to treat themselves or a loved one to a milestone gift are shut out to suit flippers or those in the trade.

    It’s currently a closed shop.

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