You don’t have to spend too long in or around the luxury watchmaking industry to be aware of the modern Rolex classics such as the Submariner, GMT Master II, or the Datejust. Within the modern collection, a few more complicated watches exist, like the Sky-Dweller, Yacht-Master II, and Cellini Moon Phase. Although less common these days, complicated watches have played a huge part in the brand’s history.

For example, one of the rarest Rolex models, very much sought after by worldwide collectors is reference 8171. This 38mm model features a complete calendar with moon phase complication also. It is nicknamed “Padellone” by Italian collectors. It gets this moniker from its dimensions in relation to the period of production (1949-1952). During that time only about  1,000 examples in steel, yellow, or pink 18 ct gold were made. It is certainly an attractive piece.

Rolex 8171

Rolex reference 8171

The case is made in three pieces (the bezel, the “carrure” or “case middle”, and the case back). Along the edges of the “carrure”, beyond the winding crown, we find four recessed push-pieces. These allow for the adjustment of the calendar. The one positioned at 2 o’clock updates the month. The 4 o’clock push-piece adjusts the date. At 8 o’clock, we have the moon phase adjuster. And the last button, which calls the 10 o’clock position home, can alter the day of the week. The steel “push-back” case back is held to the “carrure” by friction rather than the thread one might expect to find on a modern Rolex.

The dial — which is always white for the steel model — has the typical layout of the complete calendars of the 1950s. At the top of the dial there are the two small windows for the day of the week and the month, and at the bottom, the sub-dial for the seconds and the moon phase. The date is shown on the outer ring of the dial by a hand terminating in an arrow. Normally, only gold watches were submitted for chronometer certification. In fact, in those years, the movements of the ref. 8171 in steel were not sent to the C.O.S.C. (the Swiss Office of Chronometer Control). Also, this reference has a caliber 10 1/2 ’’’ surrounded by an anti-magnetic metal ring.

Complicated Rolex

Rolex reference 6062

In 1950 Rolex created another complete calendar watch with a moon phase complication. But for this model, reference 6062, a 36mm Oyster case was used. As such, it is made in only two pieces: monobloc bezel — the “carrure” and a screw-down case back. Fitted to the case middle we can again find the 4 buttons for adjusting the calendar. In a print advert of that time, Rolex describes the watch in this way: To be noted that the four buttons, which are usually voluminous, have been completely “fused” onto the case.”

This indicates that this model has passed the precision tests.

This reference originally had a Super Oyster (S.O.) crown and the accompanying tube. This was substituted for the “Twinlock” system. On the dial, at the 12 o’clock position, there are two small rectangular windows for the day of the week and the month. At 6 o’clock, we can see the moon phase sub-dial. Printed on that sub-display are the words: OFFICIALLY CERTIFIED CHRONOMETER (OCC). This indicates that this model has passed the precision tests.

Complicated Rolex 6062

Produced between 1950 and 1953

Ref. 6062 was produced between 1950 and 1953. There were 350 examples in yellow gold, 50 in pink gold, and a limited number in steel. It is fitted with caliber 9 3/4’’’ N.A. (Ref. CPL), which is also surrounded by an anti-magnetic metal ring. This reference was publicized in Rolex catalogs as the COSMOGRAPH OYSTER PERPETUAL. It didn’t have much success at the time. Only the gold model remains present in the official catalogs until 1960.

Today these models achieve very high prices at the international auctions (Phillips by Bacs and Russo sold a Rolex. ref. 6062 — an extremely rare, highly attractive and important stainless steel triple calendar wristwatch with a two-tone dial, moon phase, and bracelet — in May 2018 for CHF 1,452,500.

Complicated Rolex 4113

Rolex reference 4113

Perhaps the rarest Rolex watch ever is the Split-Second Chronograph (Rattrappante) ref. 4113. Just 12 examples exist. Additionally, this model was only made of steel. It has two rectangular pushers. There is a coaxial button on the crown. The dial, which is very handsome, has applied indices, as well as tachymeter and telemeter scales. Twin center hands and the 3 o’clock sub-dial relay the chronograph information.

The split-seconds chronograph complicated originated from the need to measure the time of two events which start at the same moment but don’t finish at the same moment. After beginning together, one of the two hands can be stopped, thereby determining the first time measurement. Another click causes the stopped hand to catch up with the first immediately. They can then resume their march together again. Furthermore, one can stop the second hands at the same time or separately. One can also reset the hands simultaneously or separately.

Complicated Rolex Watches

Phillips by Bacs and Russo sold a Rolex. ref. 4113 (an extraordinarily rare, oversized stainless steel split-seconds chronograph wristwatch with outer blue telemeter and black tachometer scales) in November 2019 for CHF 1,940,000. Would you like to know more about complicated Rolex Watches? Follow me on Instagram and, above all, don’t hesitate to ask me any questions you might have! @giorgiamondani. Photos and information come from the “Steel Rolex” Book by Giorgia & Guido Mondani available at