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The history of Rolex is inextricably linked to the visionary spirit of Hans Wilsdorf, its founder. Born in Germany and orphaned as a child, as a youth Wilsdorf worked for a Swiss watch manufacturer in La Chaux-de-Fonds. By his 20s he had relocated to London and founded a company specializing in the distribution of timepieces.
Before long, he began to dream of a watch worn on the wrist.
The story is that Wilsdorf conceived of the Oyster case while working quietly in his workshop. But Wilsdorf had never himself been a watchmaker. In actuality, the Oyster case was the product of at least four attempts by Rolex to produce a waterproof case.
But the name “Oyster” itself was Wilsdorf’s own contribution. According to his recollections, the inspiration came to him while he was opening oysters for a dinner party. He registered the name in Switzerland on July 29th, 1926, and then two months later in London.
The advertising campaign that Wilsdorf launched to promote the Oyster presents an interesting insight into Rolex itself. Rolex was in fact one of the first ever companies in any business to identify a chosen market and aim sales promotion events specifically at this group. The first promotion of the Oyster was in the trade press, specifically the English trade publication Practical Watch & Clock Maker.
On November 24, 1927 he took over the front page of Britain’s Daily Mail with a whole page advertisement boldly declaring, “Make it a Rolexmas.”
This advertisement publicized the achievement of a young woman named Mercedes Gleitze.
The 26-year-old typist became famous in October 1927 by being the first woman to swim the Channel and, the first person of any nationality or gender to do so while wearing a wristwatch. Her swim from Cap Gris Nez, France to Dover was even more remarkable because it was made in heavy fog and miserable weather. After more than 15 hours in the water Mercedes hit the shore, immediately collapsed, and was carried away unconscious to nearby care. This was her 8th attempt, giving Wilsdorf something to hang his advertising campaign around.
But Rolex did not just use print advertising.
During the summer of 1930 Rolex gave each member of the Swiss water polo team a watch to wear while playing. Four members of the team pushed a 3 foot model of the Oyster with the slogan, “Nous portons la fameuse montre etanche Rolex Oyster” (“We wear the famous waterproof watch Rolex Oyster”).
Rolex spent over 1,200,000 Swiss Francs on advertising for the Oyster campaign alone.
The first Rolex Oysters were produced in late 1926, and within a year after their first production, Rolex was patenting improvements: 7 in less than 10 years. This exemplifies Rolex’s—and Wilsdorf’s—capacity to modify and improve their product constantly, even though they were far in the lead of all their competitors, a fact they protected with vigor.
This particular Oyster is a Reference 6084. Dating from the early 1950s, it possesses a semi-bubbleback case of the type used by the manufacture from the 1930s and 1950s. Its shape is due to the size of the automatic movement. With a white "Explorer-style" dial and feuille hands, this watch radiates charisma that only the "famous Rolex Oyster" could possess!
Stainless steel Oyster case is approximately 34.5mm (excluding crown). Rolex Oyster Perpetual Reference 6084. Circa early 1950s.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is in very good condition with minor signs of use and wear in keeping with its age. White dial is in likewise very good condition with minor signs of age throughout. Rolex signed crown. Rolex case back has some scratches but is in otherwise very good condition.
Includes one 20mm black leather strap.
Analog/Shift stands behind the authenticity of our products in perpetuity.
We back each Analog/Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.
All of our watches include complementary insured shipping within the 50 states. We are happy to hand deliver your purchase in Manhattan or you may pick it up at our showroom.
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