On November 12, 2017, the Planet of the Fakes auctioned a Rolex Explorer Ref. 1016 with case quantity 5626155 from 1978 that includes a peculiar and never-before-seen “Lègion Étrangère”-engraved caseback. Légion Étragère is French for Foreign Legion, a legendary army service department of the French Army that’s open to recruits from most international locations of the world.
Interestingly, the spelling of “Légion Étrangère” was incorrect. “Légion” was engraved with the accent grave [ ` ] as an alternative of the accent aigu [ ´ ]. “Lègion” vs. “Légion”, fairly an error in French language. But there’s extra. As it turned evident only recently, the case and reference quantity engravings between the lugs are faux and so is the case quantity engraved on the within of the caseback. What is extra troubling nonetheless, is that Rolex accepted this look ahead to service, regardless of third celebration alterations.
In late 2017, nothing about it sounded the alarm and its sale for a comparatively small quantity of 12,500 Swiss Francs went unnoticed. More than a 12 months later in January 2019, the exact same watch began showing in troll accounts related to the Planet of the Fakes. The watch was described as having fastened bars between the lugs – suggesting it was an issued army watch made to be worn on a Nato strap. It quickly was disclosed the caseback had the complete case quantity 5626155 engraved on the within, one thing solely recognized from particular manufacturing Rolex watches made for Comex or the British Ministry of Defense (Milsubs), and many others. French followers virtually instantly chimed in to specific their doubts concerning the watch. A Rolex particularly made for the French Foreign Legion didn’t exist, so their assertion. These critics have been rapidly silenced (blocked), their feedback eliminated and later insulted as clowns in a devoted put up.
More and extra particulars have been revealed to recommend its legitimazy. It seems the watch was even dropped at Rolex Geneva in March 2019 and obtained an overhaul estimate. Subsequently it was claimed the watch comes “with Rolex Geneva papers”.
Lot 346 – Rolex Explorer Ref. 1016, 5626155, “Lègion Étrangère”
Viewed from the entrance, the watch seems like a daily Rolex Explorer Ref. 1016 from 1978.
Auction hyperlink: Lot 346 – Rolex Explorer Ref. 1016 Legion Etrangere
The particular function lies within the caseback which is engraved with “Lègion Étrangère”. But “Lègion” is misspelled with an accent grave [ ` ] as an alternative of an accent aigu [ ´ ]. That is kind of an error in French language because it adjustments the best way a phrase is pronounced to one thing that doesn’t exist.
The following guide cowl reveals how Légion Étrangère is spelled appropriately.
In the middle, the caseback options the so-called “Dextrochere”, the beret insignia of the 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment (2e Régiment étranger de parachutistes). The winged arm with a sword represents the precise Arm of Archangel Michael, a logo for righteous fight and constancy to superior missions. The “Dextrochere” just isn’t unique to the Foreign Legion, it’s worn by all French Army Paratroopers.
The image beneath reveals French Foreign Legion Paratroopers throughout an intervention in Kolwezi, Zaire in May 1978. Interestinlgy, the watch was produced in 1978 in line with its case quantity. It may be very a lot attainable that the intention was to hyperlink this watch to this occasion.
However, the watch worn by the Légionnaire this photograph from 1978 is definitely no Rolex however nonetheless fairly fascinating. It is a Yema diver watch with what seems to be the badge of the 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment printed onto the dial. Thanks to @mikawatches for pointing this out.
It is fascinating to notice that this Yema watch featured a badge that’s distinctive to the French Foreign Legion Paratroopers and never the “Dextrochere” insignia which is shared with different French Army paratrooper items.
Read extra: 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment (Wikipedia)
Coming again to the Explorer, aside from the specifically engraved caseback, the unique itemizing didn’t point out another particular options of this watch.
On January 27, 2019, the exact same watch was featured on Instagram by one of many troll accounts related to the Planet of the Fakes. From info gathered on-line, the watch appeared to belong to a Singaporean nevertheless it quickly ended up with mentioned troll who saved selling it as “certainly one of a form”.
On February 25, 2019, the troll posted an image of the case and reference quantity engravings between the lugs. The objective of this put up was to show there have been no bracelet marks to be seen. Military issued watches produced with manufacturing unit fastened bars would by no means present any bracelet marks, so the assertion.
The space between the lugs regarded certainly very clear. Case and reference quantity engravings appeared okay at first look however a comparability with Explorer Ref. 1016 watches from the identical batch and different batches in shut case quantity proximity revealed the engravings are faux.
The comparability beneath reveals the reference quantity engravings of 5626155 within the middle. The numbers are significantly taller than on real watches in shut case quantity proximity. The form of the numbers differs as properly, particularly that of the quantity 6 (see illustration within the backside proper nook).
An identical scenario could be discovered between the lugs at 6 o’clock the place the case quantity engravings of 5626155 are positioned significantly decrease than on different Ref. 1016 watches from the identical case quantity vary or in shut proximity. In addition, the form of the quantity 2 is clearly off. It is these minute particulars that unmask these engravings as faux.
Just as with the faux Daytona Albino, the engravings on this watch are fairly properly executed. Without correct comparability to different watches, one may simply be fooled by them.
Here is what I feel occurred. To create the phantasm of a army issued watch with fastened bars, the counterfeiters eliminated the unique engravings within the technique of cleansing the realm between the lugs. Once clear, the engravings have been reapplied.
Another element that doesn’t add up is the best way the case quantity was engraved on the within of the caseback (crimson body). The typeface used is identical as between the lugs. As you’ll be able to see within the comparability beneath, Rolex was fairly constant when it got here to engraving the case numbers on the within of casebacks of particular manufacturing watches. Within the proven vary, Rolex used a totally totally different typeface for the caseback than for the numbers between the lugs.
Alright, that is the watch. Obviously, there’s something terribly incorrect about it. Now to the extra regarding a part of the difficulty. As talked about earlier, this very watch was dropped at Rolex Geneva for an overhaul estimate. It seems Rolex accepted the look ahead to service and the proprietor obtained an estimate letter. An excerpt of the letter was posted on Instagram on July 4, 2019, in fact seconded by the same old insults towards those that had questioned the story.
What to make of this? Well initially, the watch is an actual Rolex, regardless of the alterations and the faux French Foreign Legion story. Being an actual Rolex it has each proper to be serviced. However, within the early 2000s, Rolex launched a coverage to reject watches that had been altered with non-original components. Deliberate elimination or erasure of case numbers would additionally result in rapid rejection. In this specific case, the Rolex specialists might have missed the reengraved case numbers because the counterfeiters have gotten actual good at it. Fixed bars could also be thought-about a minor alteration so it is vitally a lot attainable that Rolex accepted this look ahead to service just because it’s a actual Rolex.
The following is an fascinating passage within the above proven excerpt:
The watch arrived with none bracelet, subsequently we’re happy to suggest a brand new black leather-based bracelet and a brand new buckle. If this substitute is additionally refused, the watch shall be returned unrepaired.
Note the phrase “additionally” within the second sentence. This suggests Rolex proposed one other substitute previous to this which for some cause was not disclosed on this excerpt. This is essential! Rolex tied the service to a minimum of two circumstances. Could it’s that Rolex proposed to take away the non-original fastened bars and exchange them with authentic spring bars as an alternative with the intention to return the watch to authentic situation?
Anyhow, what Rolex definitely did NOT do is affirm the “Légion Étrangère” story. They merely acknowledged the shopper’s want to not polish the engraved caseback.
“As per request, we affirm hereby that the watch is not going to be polished. Additionally, the engraved case again with the point out ‘Légion étrangère’ is not going to be polished neither.”
The Instagram troll revealed this excerpt on this type to control his gullible followers into considering Rolex confirmed the “Légion Étrangère” story by mentioning the engraved caseback however they did NOT! Rolex merely acknowledged the shopper’s want to not polish an engraved caseback. If the caseback was engraved with “No manner, Jose!”, they’d have talked about that additionally.
This just isn’t the primary time mentioned troll used Rolex’s acknowledgement of a caseback engraving, e.g. “016 M.N. 75” on a Rolex Submariner Ref. 5513, to proclaim Rolex confirmed a controversial narrative, e.g. the 5513 Marine Nationale story.
People typically assume if Rolex accepts a look ahead to service, the watch should be 100% legit. This instance illustrates superbly that that is NOT essentially the case. Every 12 months, tens of hundreds of Rolex watches are submitted for service. The people at Rolex should not have the time to examine each watch right down to the final element and dig within the archives to confirm whether or not a narrative is actual or not. If a watch doesn’t look faux at first look – like on this specific case or in case of the lately auctioned “Foulbino” Daytona – Rolex will settle for to service it. The mere existence of a service estimate letter, nonetheless, isn’t any assure that the watch – or the story connected to it – is actual. Rolex states so themselves:
“This quote is meant to tell the Client on the worth of a service. It doesn’t attest to or assure the authenticity of a watch.“
Now you realize what a service estimate letter is value when it comes to authenticity of watch. Not a lot! Dubious sellers have used this loophole for a few years to “authenticate” their watches. They convey their items to Geneva with no intention in any way to have them serviced. All they need is the service estimate letter which they’ll wave in entrance of their clients and declare the watch is actual as Rolex accepted to service it. I hate to burst your bubble people however Rolex is smarter than you assume.
When I first heard about this watch it didn’t instantly seize my curiosity. Only once I realized how this case is linked to the Foulbino Daytona story and a a lot greater image, I turned conscious of its significance. The counterfeiters have discovered a loophole in Rolex’s overhaul service and try to take advantage of it to their full benefit.
Read extra: Return To The Planet Of The Fakes: “Albino” Daytona Made In Tuscany
Thank you on your curiosity.