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Watches - Feature Article

The One Family Owned Rolex Submariner 3 6 9 Explorer Dial

This special Vintage Rolex Submariner is what we describe as a truly “AUTHENTIC” vintage watch and has fully known “Provenance” since being purchased new back in 1965.

The original owner was called John Francis Read who worked as a Roll’s Royce engineer and was also a keen miniature model enthusiast. John purchased the watch from an authorized Rolex dealer in circa 1965 and it remained in his ownership until the mid-70’s when it was gifted to his great nephew Nigel Cosby.

Nigel enjoyed the watch as it was intended for unaware of its appreciating value and rarity. In the summer of 2020, when Nigel was attending a family gathering, he expressed his wish that his grandson Hywel Cosby inherited the Submariner after his passing. This led Hywel to carry out some initial research with the history of the watch and try to find out the value of this rare Submariner.

Last year the family reached out to Xupes to appraise and consign the watch on their behalf.

After our teams review of the watch, it became obvious this was a very rare example of the Rolex Submariner due to the following elements it incorporated:

Having a 3-6-9 Explorer dial. That was not the only extraordinary detail of this Rolex we were able to establish, it also included a gloss dial, gilt writing inclusive of the kissing L in the Rolex name, Explorer style-Coronet, meters first depth rating writing, single “SWISS” at 6 o’clock advising of the reduced Radium on the hour numbers, baton markers, hands and pointed crown guards to the case. Also, the bracelet was the correct model reference 7206 and date stamped 1965/III.

How at Xupes we appraise and value important timepieces

At XUPES we are very fortunate to call upon our in-house resources to be able to appraise and value our Vintage and Important time pieces. Our in-house team includes very experienced and informed professionals comprising of our:

  • Service Team of Watchmakers - headed up by Megan Young. The watch movements are fully inspected for authenticity and condition, also the bracelet is removed to identify the model and serial numbers.
  • Joe McKenzie CEO - who has a vast knowledge of handling and valuing Premium watch brands.
  • Terry Passfield vintage watch consultant, who can analyse and go into the miniscule details of originality for the case, dial, hands, and bracelet.

Once the watch has been reviewed individually by the above team members using their respective expertise, they meet up to discuss their findings against our tried and tested rating criteria with the following main objectives of the watch.

  • Condition.
  • Originality.
  • Rarity.
  • Provenance.
  • Price.

We have gone into more detail below on how we review and what to look out for with all Vintage and Important watches.

Originality and Wear

When you are buying a vintage watch, you are doing so because it already has a lot of history and time behind it. That is usually one of the main draws of vintage watches, when it comes to deciding on buying a worn watch over one with less history or originality, the former is always going to win.

Watches that have a refinished or replaced dial can always be found. Vintage watches that have been untouched and unpolished, but well looked after, are more highly valuable — even when they have some wear. If the dial is original and readable, and the movement clean and ticking, then the watch is likely to be a safe acquisition.

There are some exceptions when it comes to original condition. Faded dials referred to as "tropical dials” sometimes fetch a premium compared to a similar piece with an unfaded dial in an otherwise identical condition. Tropical dials were especially prevalent in the 1960s and ’70s. Also, many watches went through variations in which the dial and hands could sometimes vary on the same model.

Once you start your research on a particular watch that you are interested with and the information you find out show different hands, a differently shaped crown, a flat crystal instead of the domed one on yours, you may have a watch that has several non-original parts on it. We would recommend that you stay well clear of these type of watches that are known as “Frankenstein” watches by the collecting fraternity. 

The Movement

Of course, to assess the movement of any watch correctly you want it to be in the hands of an expert. There are some warning signs that it pays for everyone to be aware of. For instance, if the movement is discoloured or rusty, or if it is missing essential pieces, you may want to avoid the watch. However, if the watch looks good on the surface, the case back is a screwed type and not a push one, and you are buying it from a recognised watch dealer, then all the signs point to a good movement and a watch you will hopefully treasure for many years to come, just as Francis John Read and his family have done.

To view the watch, click here.