The example at Heritage (25% buyer’s premium) in Dallas on June 1 was the most coveted of all Submariners: the ‘big crown’ or reference 6538, above. It’s the model worn by Sean Connery in his portrayal of James Bond in several movies, including Dr No.
This one came directly from the family of the original owner, who paid $89.65 (plus tax) for it in November 1960, according to the original sale invoice included with the lot. The hammer price was $100,000 (£70,000).
The reference 8171 is considered one of the most important timepieces that Rolex introduced during the late 1940s and early 1950s. It was unusually large for the time, at 38mm – hence the nickname Padellone (frying pan) – and stands out from the crowd with the addition of a triple calendar moonphase complication.
This example, above, from c.1950 in yellow gold, reached $44,000 (£30,800).