Why Patina Makes Rolexes Even More Valuable

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Switzerland's posh Hôtel La Réserve is the place to be for watch collectors from Nov. 6–8 when Phillips stages the latest edition of its incredible Geneva watch auctions. For the sale, the auction house has curated a lust-worthy selection of watches spanning the 20th and 21st centuries, chosen for their "rarity, state of preservation and relevance." In particular, we're drooling over these five vintage Rolexes that prove patina enhances value and makes each one utterly unique:

"James Bond Big Crown" Submariner Ref. 6538

The Ref. 6538 accompanied Sean Connery on multiple big screen secret missions, hence its nickname. The dial on this c.1958 example has acquired a superb "tropical" hue while the nicks and scratches enhance its character. Est. $109,000–$218,000.

"Pre-Daytona" Chronograph Ref. 6238

Here's an example of really impressive patina—the intense espresso brown color of this coveted c.1963 chronograph could only have occurred if the watch was exposed to an extreme source of heat over time. Est. $43,800–$87,600.

Oyster Chronograph Ref. 4537

Launched in 1946, the ref. 4537 was only manufactured for a short period of time and is amongst the rarest of all early Rolex chronographs. The oxidation on the right side of the case indicates decades spent locked in a vault. Est. $272,000–$545,000.

"Steve McQueen" Explorer II Ref. 1655

This watch is newer and has less overt signs of aging than the others on this list, which is partly why it's less expensive. But the "pumpkin" patina on this iconic c.1979 Explorer II is absolutely stunning. $13,100–$26,200.

GMT-Master Ref. 6542

Last but not least is this drop-dead gorgeous "Pepsi" GMT made circa 1958. The bakelite bezels on these early examples age to perfection, acquiring a lustrous coloration set off by the creamy lume on the markers and hands. Est. $131,000–$261,000.