Watch auctions have evolved from relatively staid events for die-hard collectors into ever increasingly well-hyped media events for the ultra-wealthy.

And while that’s not a bad thing in itself, the excited rhetoric, stratospherically high estimates, and hammer prices often attract attention away from the replica watches themselves, making it easy to lose track of what made these watches so desirable in the first place.

So now that the dust has settled on the recent Phillips Start-Stop-Reset auction of stainless steel chronographs in Geneva, which saw all 88 of its lots sold, I’d like to focus on a watch that I thought stood out from the very strong field.

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Rolex Oyster Zerograph monopusher flyback chronograph Reference 3346 from 1937

In the spirit of go big or go home, let’s look at one of the most desirable timepieces ever to come up at auction: a replica Rolex Reference 3346 in stainless steel from 1937.

This Rolex was lot 36 in the 2016 Phillips Start-Stop-Reset auction, and it ended up hammering for 389 Swiss francs at the May sale.

This is what makes this 80-year-old timepiece so desirable:

  • It’s one of the rarest Rolex references ever with only this one model having surfaced
  • It was the very first Rolex chronograph in an Oyster case.
  • It was a calibrated rotating bezel, the template for all Rolex sports watches that followed.
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Rolex Oyster Zerograph monopusher flyback chronograph Reference 3346 from 1937

This flyback chronograph was the most complicated movement that cheap Rolex had ever made at the time, is was developed in-house and was patented.

It is the only flyback chronograph that swiss Rolex has ever made.

It also happens to be the very first Oyster-cased chronograph that Rolex has ever made.

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Rolex Oyster Zerograph monopusher flyback chronograph Reference 3346 from 1937

It includes the very first revolving bezel Rolex replica outfitted a watch with. This feature would not become a serial element at the brand until the 1950s.

Its California dial is a feature that is found on only one of two Rolex models. Ever.

The hammer price of 389 Swiss francs was near the middle of its estimate, which was between 250 and 500 Swiss francs.

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Rolex Oyster Zerograph monopusher flyback chronograph Reference 3346 from 1937

For more information, please visit www.loverolexwatches.org.uk.

I’d like to thank Paul Boutros and Alex Ghotbi from Phillips for their help in helping to select this exceptional and interesting piece from an auction consisting entirely of exceptional and interesting pieces.