Following the success of Christie’s Geneva watch auctions in November 2022, which totalled CHF (Swiss francs) 55,548,348 (approximately US$62,800,000), with sell-through rates of 100 percent and 99.11 percent, Christie’s is presenting the Rare Watches auction, including a compelling selection of wristwatches from Rolex, Patek Philippe, F.P. Journe, Cartier and many more, on May 13.
The top-selling site for Rolex timepieces, Christie’s Geneva reinforces its position with highlights that include a rare Oman section featuring seven vintage and modern Rolexes, properties of various owners, each made at the request of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said (1940–2020), the Sultan of Oman. These pieces include the Sea-Dweller Ref. 1665, and the Daytonas Ref. 6263, Ref. 6265, and Ref. 6269. It’s unusual for such a number of Omani models showcasing the Khanjar emblem or the signature of the Sultan himself to be offered, each in near perfect condition.
Lot 28 – Rolex Ref. 1665 Sea-Dweller, with “Qaboos” dial, circa 1973, was made for the Sultan of Oman. This extremely rare museum-worthy wristwatch is probably the finest example to be offered in an auction, from the ultra-crisp angles, finishes, and inscriptions of the case to the untouched bezel insert with the natural patina of age. The dial features the bright red signature of His Majesty Qaboos Bin Said, combined with tritium indexes which have developed a rich deep sand-colored patina. One of the most interesting aspects of Rolex watches made for the Sultan of Oman in the 1970s is that the dials were specially designed only for the Omani models; for example the characteristic inscriptions for depth rating and ‘Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified’ of the standard 1665s Sea-Dweller of the period were removed to spotlight the red Qaboos signature. (Estimated at CHF200,000–300,000 or about US$226,000–339,000)
Lot 29 – Rolex Daytona Ref. 6263 was made for the Sultan of Oman circa 1974. One of only four known examples of its type, this stainless steel Ref. 6263 Cosmograph, retailed by Asprey, not only bears the signature of the Sultan of Oman in red on the dial, but also features a case that is engraved inside with the serial number, and a caseback engraved with the signature of Asprey. Made in 1974, it’s an example of a timepiece presented by the Sultan himself, and as such it has always been highly prized by its owners and therefore rarely worn. (Estimated at CHF600,000–1,200,000 or about US$ 679,000–1,357,000)
Lot 30 – Rolex Daytona Ref. 6265 was made for the Sultan of Oman circa 1978. This 18k gold watch made for Sultan Qaboos Bin Said of Oman is in excellent overall condition and still has the original Rolex reference sticker on the caseback; it is also furnished with a sumptuous Asprey Geneva red suede fitted box and accompanied by a pair of specially-made Caran d’Ache pens also emblazoned with the Omani Khanjar emblem. It is well known that during the period in which this extraordinary set was made, all watches created for the Sultan of Oman were sold through the London firm of Asprey on New Bond Street. What is less well known is that from the mid-1970s, Asprey operated a showroom in Geneva, at 40 Rue du Rhone, opened after the end of the 1973 oil crisis, when the spending power of Asprey’s Middle Eastern customers visiting Geneva grew exponentially. The present Rolex Cosmograph is one of the very few watches known to have been supplied to the Sultan of Oman by Asprey in Geneva. (Estimated at CHF250,000–450,000 or about US$283,000–509,000)
Lot 31 – Rolex Daytona “Jack of Diamonds,” the earliest known Ref. 6269, was made for the Sultanate of Oman, circa 1985. Consigned by a private collector and epitomizing the near-mint condition that all hope to find in a vintage Rolex, this awe-inspiring gold Cosmograph is one of only two publicly known examples of Ref. 6269 sold to the Sultan of Oman. The other known example, with the caseback engraved with the Khanjar, was sold by Antiquorum Geneva on 12 May 2013 (lot 518). The ultra-luxurious diamond-set Ref. 6269, the so-called “Jack of Diamonds,” is one of the most elusive models among all gold Cosmographs. With its caseback engraved with the Khanjar emblem of Oman, it’s a piece for any serious Rolex collector today. (Estimated at CHF800,000–1,400,000 or about US$905,000–1,580,000)
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said (1940–2020), the Sultan of Oman, was born on November 18, 1940 in Salalah, Dhofar, the only son of Sultan Said bin Taimur and Princess Mazoon al-Mashani. His formal education first took place in Salalah, India, where he studied under Dhayal Sharma, the former President of India, and thereafter in England. At age 20, he began his military training and joined the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, eventually serving in the Scottish Rifles for one year in Germany.
He ascended to the throne on July 23, 1970. An absolute monarch, he proved to be a successful ruler, using the revenues obtained from oil to modernize his country. With his guidance, his country and subjects enjoyed countless advances, both social and technological.
Oman has strengthened its international relations, both in the Middle East and on a more global scale. Independent newspapers are permitted, and schools, highways, hotels, and shopping centers have been built. The Omani healthcare and education systems benefit from substantial public spending. The Sultan also permitted parliamentary elections, where women were allowed to vote and be elected, and the parliament given legislative powers. The foreign policy of the Sultan has been and continues to be one of formal neutrality.
Beyond his enthusiasm for watches, the Sultan’s interests included music. He was an avid fan of classical music, with a particular penchant for the pipe organ. The Omani orchestra is one of the most appreciated in the Middle East.