By Brecken Branstrator
This Rolex Submariner Ref. 6538, also called a “James Bond Submariner,” failed to sell in a recent online auction at Sotheby’s.
New York—A rare Rolex model made famous by Sean Connery’s iconic performance as James Bond went up for auction online this week and, surprisingly, didn’t sell.

Sotheby’s estimated that the Rolex Ref. 6538 “James Bond Submariner” leading its “Watches Online: The Driver’s Collection” sale would sell for between $180,000 and $280,000.

Rolex introduced the Submariner Red. 6583 in 1955, bringing with it a new Caliber 1030 movement, a thinner case, more beveled lugs and a larger 8 mm winding crown, according to the auction house.

In 1962, Connery appeared for the first time as James Bond in “Dr. No,” sporting a Rolex Submariner 6538 and giving it a new nickname.

Rolex ceased production of the Ref. 6538 in 1959.

The specific timepiece that appeared in the recent online auction featured four lines of text on its “Tropical” dial, indicating it was Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute-certified, a dial that had faded to a “bright warm brown color” and its original “Red Triangle” bezel insert.

The watch is currently still with Sotheby’s and is available for sale until the end of the month.

It was the highlight of a sale that was a collaboration between the auction house and Bob’s Watches, an online retailer of vintage and pre-owned Rolex watches.

The two curated a group of 18 driving wristwatches to sell, inspired by a group of classic cars offered in RM Sotheby’s upcoming auction held during the famous Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance automotive charitable event in Monterey, California.

Jonathan Burford, Sotheby’s watches and clocks specialist in Los Angeles, and Paul Altieri, founder and CEO of Bob’s Watches, selected each watch to pair with a car, showcasing the best in watchmaking and automotive technology.

The James Bond Rolex, for example, coincided with the sale of “The Most Famous Car in the World”—the 1965 Aston Martin DB5 “Bond Car,” equipped with 13 functional Bond gadgets as seen in both “Goldfinger” and “Thunderball.”

All 18 watches were on display to the public at the Monterey Conference Center for a few days prior to bidding, which was held Aug. 14 to 20.

20190822 Sothebys Insert

Alongside the Rolex Submariner were rare pieces from Rolex, Omega, TAG Heuer and Patek Phillipe.

Other highlights included a Patek Philippe Nautilus ref. 3710/1A with an integrated bracelet and power reserve indicator that sold for $68,750 (pictured above); a Rolex Submariner Ref. 1680, a stainless steel wristwatch with MK4 “Red Submariner” dial and bracelet circa 1972 that went for $27,500; and a Rolex Daytona Ref. 116500LN stainless steel chronograph wristwatch that also sold for $27,500.

Meanwhile, two other watches in the sale didn’t sell—a Rolex Daytona Ref. 6263 stainless steel chronograph with a “Sigma” dial and oyster bracelet circa 1974, and an Omega Speedmaster Ref. 2998-1 with a “Tropical” dial circa 1960.

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