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”?
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.
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.
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…
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!
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.
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).