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Rolex 6424 (circa 1956): Oyster Precision like none other

Anna Wu-Chauvineau
Le 8 February 2017

Rolex, Oyster, Precision. Three words, and watches produced between the beginning of the 1950’s and the end of the 1960’s. Numerous variations of dials and movements were developed, but more often than not it was a ballade of 34mm cases equipped with automatic movements. Clarity and simplicity of the dial, finesse and elegance of the case are a number of features we still cherish today.

Rolex Oyster Precision 6424

Today, we’re interested in a particular timepiece: one of the first versions of the reference 6424 dating back to 1956.

A hand-wound automatic movement

A mechanical heart beating inside an Oyster body. And not just any one. The hand-wound caliber 1012. A movement that is compact, yet durable and reliable with 17 rubies and a double anti-shock system. Very cool surprise: the movement is nicely decorated by Rolex, which is quite rare for the crown brand that has always focused on performance rather than ornamentation. Maybe this is why we like it so much…

A unique dial layout?

The reference 6424 has gone through a number of cosmetic changes including dial and hand variations. Most of the 6424 we see today are from the second half of the 1960’s, have a black or silver dial and Baton hour markers and hands. Rolex replaces the marker at noon most of the time.

The little gem we have in our hands is different, more on the original side and more interesting I dare say.

Rolex Oyster Precision 6424

A dial with soft vanilla patina, and a layout that reminds us of the model made in 1950, never released, and lent to New-Zealander Edmund Hillary for his expedition on Mount Everest in 1953. We all know this story’s happy ending.

Twelve faceted appliqué hour markers and a timer with 60 painted points share the dial. The Rolex crown hasn’t replaced the noon hour marker, but sits just under it with the inscriptions “Rolex” and “Oyster.” The mention “Precision” and “Swiss” can be found below at 6 o’clock.

Rolex Oyster Precision 6424

Alpha hour and minute hands bring strong character to the ensemble, while the blued central second hand adds a touch of elegance.

A case like the Explorer 1?

The most unique trait of the reference? Its size, clearly. While most Oyster Precisions, with or without date, appear with 34mm cases and an lug width of 18mm or 19mm, the reference 6424 proudly sports its 36mm and 20mm lug width. Yes, we were resembling dangerously close to the Explorer of the same period… Only that the extremely flat hand-wound mechanical movement used allows a very flat screwed-down case back. The result is no less than pure finesse.

This impression of finesse is further emphasized by the large opening of the case. Let’s not forget, norms were not the same in 1956. If you ask me, this remains an ideal size for a dressy watch even today.

Another detail that will allow you to recognize a 6424 on your favorite auction websites: lugs that aren’t pierced. Rare for Rolex watches between the 1950’s and 1960’s since “un-pierced” lugs were mainly for cases made from precious metals.

Accessible enjoyment for all?

Although the popularity level of an Explorer 1 of the same period has skyrocketed a while ago, these small gems with a similar look are still undervalued by the public…all the better for us.

It goes without saying, the unique dial doesn’t come by easily…but good things come to those who wait. This is much more original and unique than many others.

Rolex Oyster Precision 6424

With its large size and 20mm lug width, we have here a dressy watch with a military-adventurer feel about it. The bonus? This little beauty will go with any Submariner bracelet, which I’m sure will attract a large number of you.

Rolex Oyster Precision 6424

Now when it comes to looking for a vintage riveted oyster bracelet and matching end pieces, it’s a whole other ballgame…but we promise to keep you updated!

Our take

We’re clearly smitten with this vintage beauty who’s rich with history and stories. The pleasure and respect that go with wearing a timepiece that recently celebrated its 60th anniversary is clearly there…and without a wrinkle.