i’ve been on a real vintage kick for the last few months now, particularly for vintage chronographs from the late 60′s and early 70′s because they offer such fine details that most people wouldn’t even notice. but today, i fell in love with a vintage rolex so aesthetically simple, you might be wondering, “what makes this piece so special?” well i’m about to tell you.
in the vintage watch world, like other vintage luxury markets, the key to finding value in a particular item has to do mainly with three things: 1) rarity, 2) history, and 3) condition. if you can check these three boxes, you’ve probably found something worth buying.
rule #1 – rarity
now i know what you watch junkies are thinking. you think you’ve seen this watch and you believe it’s a rolex oysterquartz from the late 1970′s. wrong. the watch is not an oysterquartz, but rather, it’s an oyster perpetual date ref. 1530 with an automatic caliber 1570 movement of which it is believed that only 500 to 1,500 pieces were ever produced (no one really knows the true production volume). that low volume is even more incredible when you put it in the perspective that rolex typically produces a million total watches per year.
rule #2 – history
generally speaking, the two most prized watch brands from the perspective of vintage collectors are patek philippe and rolex. there are a variety of good reasons for this, but the simplest, and only reason that matters is this — there is an incredible demand for them. you can have a great product, but if no one is willing to buy it, then you don’t really have crap (think apple newton or the laserdisc). in the case of vintage rolexes, people are able and willing to pay top dollar for them because they understand that rolex has a deep history and they produce the quintessential sport watch.
rule #3 – condition
this is the toughest rule to assess. most of us are naturally attracted to newer things. we typically shun older looking things and gravitate towards newer, shinier things. but if you’re in the market for a vintage watch and you see something that looks brand new, an immediate alarm should go off in your head. a 30 or 40 year old watch is not supposed to look new and if it does, then you’re probably dealing with a piece that has been refinished in some form or another, and generally speaking, you want to stay away from that. instead, look for pieces that have aged consistently. for example, if the hour markers on a watch are turning yellow-ish (patina), but the hands are stark white, then that’s a clue that the hands may have been replaced. the patina of both the hands and the hour markers should look similar. another example would be a bracelet that looks entirely new with little to no scratches on it with slightly rounded edges. that may be a sign that the watch has been polished which is also not as preferable as an unpolished piece.
final details about the ref. 1530
so now you should understand that the reason the ref. 1530 is so special is because it’s a rare piece that has the rich rolex brand history behind it. but what makes it even more appealing in my honest opinion is that it doesn’t look like any of today’s rolex sport models. it has a unique look, much different than the submariner, gmt master, daytona or any other rolex sport watch for that matter. the architecture and angular nature of the integrated bracelet is really extraordinary and evokes images of gerald genta’s legendary designed audemars piguet royal oak. the watch is also chronometer certified which is important to some collectors. and finally, the best part of all…the watch is somewhat under appreciated and thus may be under valued. when they are available on the market, they typically run around $7K but they can go as high as ~$12K. but for a rolex this rare, i believe that’s a good value so i would definitely recommend scooping it up as quickly as possible.