On May 14, 2017, at the world-famous Geneva Watch Auction, a vintage Rolex that belonged to the Last Emperor of Vietnam sold for slightly over $5 million, making it the most expensive Rolex ever sold. In 1954 the Emperor was in Geneva, meeting with world leaders following the Indochina war when he stepped out of his hotel for a breath of fresh air and stumbled into Chronomètrie Philippe Beguin, one of the world’s foremost Rolex retailers. In true emperor style, he asked for the rarest and most precious Rolex ever created. After presenting various watches, none of which impressed the Emperor, the retailer made a call to the Rolex headquarters who quickly sent a clerk with something special directly from the workshop.
The Rolex Ref. 6062 that was brought was simply extraordinary and exactly the one-of-a-kind piece the Emperor was looking for. It would eventually be called the Rolex Bao Dai, taking on the Emperor’s name which meant Keeper of Greatness and signifying everything majestic that the watch embodies. The yellow gold case and the band of the Rolex Bao Dai are paired impeccably with a black dial and diamond index markers (only 1 of 3 ever made that have diamond markers on a black dial). Making the watch even more exclusive is its full calendar complication that features a moonphase display, one of the rarest and most elusive Rolex complications.
The Rolex Bao Dai had been on the market once before in 2002 when it also broke the record for the most expensive Rolex ever sold at the time. Before the Rolex Bao Dai smashed the record this year for most expensive Rolex ever sold, the previous record holder was a Rolex Ref. 4113 Split-Seconds Chronograph which sold for nearly $2.5 million last year at an auction. Given that the Rolex Bao Dai doubled the previous record, it will take a truly spectacular watch that is even rarer (if one exists, that is) to break the $5 million record.
While many who are new to the luxury watch world often immediately look to buy a new Rolex, experts and seasoned collectors will often advise you to buy a vintage Rolex. As we’ve seen in this article, a vintage Rolex is a solid investment that will only increase in value with time. However, there is also something about the aesthetic of a vintage Rolex that is special and cannot be replicated. Only time can show the dependability, durability, and craftsmanship of a Rolex and bring out the timeless design each Rolex is handcrafted with. For a large selection of vintage Rolexes at the best prices on the market, view our selection at Bay Diamond Importers or call us at (310) 378-0714 to speak with one of our Rolex experts.