Antiquorum, Geneva, May 13
Sold for CHF 329,000
When I first spotted this Rolex GMT-Master in Antiquorum’s catalogue, I realised there was something about it that was different, aside from the striking contrast of its dial/bezel combination against its yellow gold case – but it took a read through the description to reveal what that something was, and it turned out to be the fact that the watch lacks the usual luminous indexes and handset.
Antiquorum claims close inspection indicates that the luminous coating was never applied, suggesting that the watch was a special order from the factory. That makes it interesting enough, but there’s even more of a twist to the tale in how the vendor acquired it in 1960.
The story goes that he was walking beside the Bain des Paquis in Geneva – a purpose-built bathing pool set in the lake – when he heard cries for help from the parents of a child who had fallen into the water. Neither parent could swim but, as luck would have it, the vendor was a member (and later president of) the Lac Leman lifeguard society and was therefore able to perform a textbook rescue.
The father subsequently gave him the GMT-Master as a thank you gift but, not realising its value, the vendor wore it only once a year at the society’s annual meeting before placing it in a drawer in 1980. And it remained there until Antiquorum sold it – complete with a badge and anniversary medal of the Societé Internationale du Sauvetage du Leman.
Simon de Burton