The Record-Setting Rolex Ref. 4113

Unlike Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, and other prestige brands that pride themselves on producing a highly limited ­selection of complicated timepieces for an elite ­clientele, Rolex has built a near-mythical reputation on a polar-opposite ­philosophy: The brand makes watches that are reliable, practical, and available—to the tune of nearly 1 million pieces per year. “Consequently, it is unbelievable that in 1942 a limited edition of 12 pieces was made; it’s so against the corporate credo,” says Christie’s international head of watches Aurel Bacs, referring to the Ref. 4113. The extremely rare, oversized stainless-steel split-seconds chronograph earned $1,163,746 in Geneva on May 16, becoming the first Rolex to break the $1 million barrier at auction. One of only eight extant pieces, the model was part of a series gifted to race car drivers and team managers and was,

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