Rolex Oyster

Rolex Oyster

In 1933, an ad for a Rolex Oyster featured a smiling Sir Malcolm Campbell in his racing getup.

“272 Miles Per Hour with Sir Malcolm Campbell,” the ad ran.

The ad referenced Sir Malcolm’s shattering of his own world record, which he had set the previous year at Daytona Beach. It was a triumph, both for Sir Malcolm and for British engineering. And it was a long time coming, for Sir Malcolm had spent the better part of a decade in chasing it.

For years he had been in fierce competition with his nemesis, Henry Segrave, who was knighted in 1929 for reaching 231 mph in his Golden Arrow. Enraged by Segrave’s victory, Campbell (then just Mr. Malcolm Campbell) scoured the globe for a new locale to attempt the world record once more, ending up in Africa during monsoon season. When he returned to Cape Town, he found that Segrave had died—killed when attempting to set the world sea record.

Fearing competition from American drivers, Campbell set out for Daytona, where he set a new world record: 246 mph, for which he was knighted.

The next year, he set the bar even higher, reaching 251 mph… but that was not enough for Sir Malcolm.

In February 1933, Sir Malcolm returned to Daytona in his Blue Bird, which he had designed with Reid Railton. With a sleek aerodynamic design dominated by a tail fin, the Blue Bird was a Modernist work of art on wheels. But far from being merely aesthetic, the Blue Bird was powered by a 36.7 liter Rolls-Royce R V12 engine with an astounding 2300 horsepower.

News crews and spectators watched as Sir Malcolm piloted the Blue Bird down the hard-packed sands, which looked to the crew from Pathé like a “four wheeled steak of lighting.”

The watch that Sir Malcolm wore when he broke this land speed record was, of course, a Rolex Oyster—which, according to a cable that he sent to Rolex, was “still going splendidly notwithstanding rough usage received.”

He could not have chosen a watch better suited for the pursuit. Ever since the debut of the Oyster case a few years before, sportsmen from Sri Lanka to Scotland strapped Rolex Oysters to their wrists. Its “watertight, dustproof, perspiration proof” construction, or so another ad ran, allowed it to “[defy] the elements permanently.”

1930 saw the debut of a two-piece Oyster cushion case, which was available in gold, chrome, steel, or—in the case of this watch, a Reference 2327—sterling silver.

With its cushion case, enamel dial, and onion crown, it’s typical of Oysters from the late 1920s or early 1930s, similar in looks to the kind Sir Malcolm wore. While its diminutive size and elegant blued steel feuille hands might give it touches of refinement, the words engraved on the movement speak to its sporting nature: “for all climates.” Whether just riding about town or setting a world speed record of your own, it’s the perfect choice.


SKU: AS02231

Sterling silver case is approximately 33mm (excluding crown). Reference 2327. Circa late 1920s, early 1930s.

Overall Condition: Case is in very good condition overall, showing signs of age including patina. Dial is in very good condition with signs of age. Screw-down crown.

Includes one 15mm black leather strap.

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