Franken/Fake Oyster “Sotto” Daytona (RCO) At Christie’s Hong Kong – Vintage Panerai and other iconic timepieces under the loupe at Perezcope

In classic Rolex circles, the Rolex Daytona Oyster “Sotto” aka RCO doesn’t require an introduction however for the uninitiated, the mannequin is well defined. The Oyster “Sotto” is a Ref. 6263 screw-down pusher Daytona with black 3-colour Paul Newman dial. What makes this mannequin particular is that the “Oyster” designation shouldn’t be situated between Rolex and Cosmograph, as on extra widespread Paul Newman “Panda” dials, however beneath Cosmograph (ROC vs. RCO) – thus “Sotto” which is Italian for beneath/beneath. Instead of manufacturing new dials, Rolex used up current Ref. 6262/6264 pump-pusher dials and had the “Oyster” designation added beneath Cosmograph. There are two forms of RCOs, the “Mk 1” and the rarer “Mk 2” variant with a barely completely different Rolex brand. So far, nearly 20 correct items have surfaced.

Christie’s Hong Kong acquired their palms on one among these uncommon items – not less than that’s what they assume. As it seems, their watch was not born a “Sotto” and is totally made-up. In 2015, the watch was offered with a extra widespread Paul Newman “Panda” ROC dial and later remodeled right into a “Sotto”. In the method, the watch misplaced its unique motion and obtained an incorrect (Ref. 6240) and probably pretend set of screw-down pushers. All of this makes this watch a so-called franken watch, made out of “largely” unique components however pretending to be one thing it’s not. A pretend principally. The motive was simple arithmetic. With a “Panda” dial, the watch could be price round USD 400k however a “Sotto” dial makes this a a million U.S. Dollar trophy.

Please learn the updates on the finish of the article.

Lot 10 – Rolex , The “RCO” Mark II Dial With Original Certificate

With a 2.197 million serial quantity, the case of the Christie’s watch belongs to the second batch of Ref. 6263. For some cause, Christie’s does not disclose the complete case numbers of their watches. Anyway, the very first Ref. 6263 batch had case numbers within the 2.085 million vary. Oyster “Sotto” items will be present in each these batches. While the “Sotto” Mk 1 model is predominant within the 2.085 mil. vary, the rarer Mk 2 variant can primarily be discovered within the 2.197 mil. vary. The current watch case grew to become eligible to be “revamped” right into a a million U.S. Dollar Oyster “Sotto” Mark 2 as a result of its matching case quantity.

Christie’s Lot 10 – Rolex, the “RCO” Mark II dial with unique certificates

Auction hyperlink: Lot 10 – Rolex, The “RCO” Mark II Dial With Original Certificate (Christie’s)
(Link doesn’t work anymore, see updates on the finish of the article)

As talked about earlier, this watch was not born a “Sotto”. The following image reveals the watch in its probably unique situation in 2015. These photos had been revealed by an Italian vendor.

A comparability of the deteriorated Mk 1 bezel reveals {that a} least the bezel is 100% the identical.

In 2017, the identical watch – already in “Sotto” configuration – was supplied by The Vintage Concept, a classic Rolex vendor from Hong Kong.

The bezel is definitely the identical however what concerning the case? To decide whether or not the case is similar as properly, we have to take a more in-depth look in the back of the case. The subsequent image reveals the watch in its 2015 situation.

The motion image offered by Christie’s was photographed in an unfavourable angle and has many lacking areas. Unfortunately it doesn’t assist in bringing readability as as to whether the case is similar or not but when we take the image offered by The Vintage Concept in 2017, we could have extra luck.

The image beneath reveals the motion image offered by Christie’s (left) subsequent to the image revealed by The Vintage Concept in 2017. To decide if a motion is certainly the identical, I typically evaluate the place of the screw heads as they’re distinctive like finger prints. As you may see, the screw heads match completely, as do some scratches. This is definitely the exact same motion.

Ok, subsequent let’s evaluate the motion image from 2015 to the one revealed by The Vintage Concept in 2017. See that encircled little dust mark on the within of the case? It’s an ideal match.

Before we proceed, please examine the Cal. 727 stamps. See the distinction? More on this later.

A case comparability wouldn’t be full with taking a more in-depth take a look at the caseback. As you may see within the image beneath, sure particulars between the image from 2015 and the one revealed by Christie’s match completely as properly.

Comparison caseback 2015 vs. Christie’s

In my opinion that is fairly conclusive. There will be little question that that is one and the identical case.

Millerighe Screw-Down Pusher

Early screw-down pusher Daytonas had been outfitted with so-called “Millerighe” pushers. Mille righe is Italian for “thousand traces”. The earliest model was fabricated from nickel-plated brass and had an inclination to deteriorate comparatively fast. Later “Millerighe” pushers had been fabricated from chrome steel. The ones which are put in on the current watch are fairly deteriorated however that isn’t the difficulty. The drawback lies of their awkward proportions. The peak of the knurled ring (a) is decrease than on recognized pushers.

As talked about earlier, these pushers could possibly be pretend. But no matter their authenticity, for my part Daytonas from the two.197 million case quantity vary ought to already be outfitted with chrome steel pushers.

Later Movement

As I discussed within the introduction, the current watch misplaced its unique motion when it was remodeled right into a uncommon Oyster “Sotto”. All Daytonas as much as the two.7/2.8 million vary had been outfitted with the earliest model of the Valjoux 72-based Cal. 727. Early actions can simply be recognized by their distinctive 727 caliber stamp with pronounced serifs. Later calibers had been stamped with a sans-serif typeface. Another distinction is the spacing between the digits which is significantly bigger in early calibers (7-2-7 vs. 727).

If we evaluate the caliber stamps, it turns into evident that the Christie’s watch has a later motion.

I think that when the dial was modified, they had been too lazy to undergo the method of eradicating the palms, unscrewing the dial from the motion and placing every little thing again collectively. Instead, they probably simply swapped the entire combo from one watch to a different which is a good segue into whether or not the “Sotto” dial is unique or not.

Detail of the RCO Mk 2 print

The “Oyster” print appears to be like okay for my part. Given the later motion, my guess is the dial got here from a later watch. There is not less than one Oyster “Sotto” Mk 2 within the 2.8 million vary. Since this serial vary shouldn’t be usually accepted as being appropriate for a “Sotto”, they probably determined to switch the dial to one thing much less “provocative”. For the sake of completeness, it must be added that sure extremely knowlegeable specialists don’t just like the “Sotto” Mk 2 variant. Some even say this model by no means existed.

Box & Papers

To conclude, let’s take a more in-depth take a look at the field and papers that include the watch. Christie’s boasts that their Oyster “Sotto” Mk 2 is just the second instance to return with the unique certificates:

“…to the very best of our information, just one different exists with its unique certificates.”

As you may see within the comparability beneath, the outer carton field of the Christie’s watch (right-hand facet) is the exact same because the one which got here with the watch in unique “Panda” situation in 2015 . The inexperienced doc holder is similar as properly.

Comparison field & papers – left: 2015, proper: Christie’s

Christie’s Hong Kong is satisfied they acquired their palms on one thing very particular. In their description they wrote:

Christie’s Hong Kong is immensely honoured to have the chance to current to collectors a wristwatch that isn’t solely an immense rarity amongst Rolex watches, but in addition couldn’t be improved upon by way of originality, situation and provenance.

Could not be improved by way of originality? Is that proper? Christie’s continued:

The current watch will be recommended for its amazingly untouched situation

Amazingly untouched certainly!

Update September 26, 2021
Following the publication of this text, a reader despatched Christie’s HK a hyperlink to this report and requested for a response. The public sale home replied they weren’t able to touch upon this text however they’d performed their analysis and consider the watch is all unique. Later they modified the outline from:
“The current watch will be recommended for its amazingly untouched situation…”
“The current watch will be recommended in very enticing situation…”

Clearly, Christie’s HK is acknowledging that the watch shouldn’t be untouched as beforehand claimed however it appears they need to go forward with the sale with out disclosing its true nature. In my opinion, the appropriate factor to do could be to withdraw the lot to keep away from damaging potential patrons.

Update September 29, 2021
Christie’s went forward with the sale and even lowered the beginning worth from HKD 8.5 million to 7 million (USD 190k much less) however no person positioned a bid on this watch. When the time was up, the itemizing disappeared instantly. Lot 12, the Daytona Ref. 6240 “Solo” didn’t appeal to any bids both and vanished as properly.


Oyster “Sotto” Daytonas are tremendous uncommon. They belong to the top of classic Daytona gathering, and rightly so. An actual “Sotto” is extra than simply the dial, it is a crucial milestone in Rolex’s exceptional historical past. A “Sotto” that was not born a “Sotto” is an imposter, a deception… a pretend! It is similar as with sure automobiles. A primary collection carburetor BMW 3.0 CSL is one thing very particular. Only 169 of those ultra-lightweight automobiles had been ever made. Sure, you can take a daily 3.0 CS and remodel it right into a CSL with unique components however it is going to by no means be one of many 169.

This kind of exposé was made potential because of the sheer quantity of information I used to be capable of gather over time. Thousands of well-documented classic Rolex Daytonas discovered their means into my database. An enormous chunk of this knowledge got here from public sale home web sites the place photos and necessary particulars like case numbers, and so on. had been revealed. Since the early 2000s, there was a steady push for transparency coming from main public sale homes and an increasing number of particulars had been shared. Last public sale season, nevertheless, Christie’s Hong Kong made a really odd transfer. Out of the blue, they stopped disclosing the serial numbers of all of their watch heaps. This left many within the watch group puzzled. The message appears clear. The of us at Christie’s don’t welcome scrutiny. They need you to belief them blindly however as this case fantastically illustrates, they can’t assure the authenticity of their watches. The later motion of this franken “Sotto” ought to have been a warning signal to dig deeper – if one is conscious of those particulars that’s.

Thank you on your curiosity.

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