The Rolex Ref. 6062: The world’s most expensive Rolex for 15 years
The Rolex Ref. 6062 “Bao Dai” first made it into the record books when it was sold in 2002 for $235,000, making it the most expensive Rolex watch ever at the time. 15 years later, it broke its own record when it was sold at an auction on May 13, 2017, for a staggering $5,060,427. However, the Bao Dai watch only held the record for half a year more before Phillips auction house eventually sold Paul Newman Daytona for almost $18 million, thus eclipsing the Ref. 6062, also known as the Bao Dai Rolex.
ROLEX “BAO DAI” 6062 (Photo: Phillips)
Who was Bao Dai?
Prince Nguyễn Phúc Vĩnh Thụy, better known as “Bảo Đại” (translated as “Preserver of Greatness”), was the thirteenth and last Vietnamese emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty, which ruled from 1802 to 1945. Ever since the French established full colonial rule in Vietnam in 1883, the imperial dynasty had essentially been powerless. Bao Dai, who took this era name when he became emperor in 1926, was mainly raised and educated in France and thus did not return to the French protectorate Annam until 1932. Annam was then part of French Indochina and covered about two-thirds of what is now modern-day Vietnam. During the Second World War, Japanese imperialism put an end to French colonialism, with Bao Dai remaining in his role as emperor and officially renamed the country Vietnam.
Only when Ho Chi Minh and his Vietminh resistance group forced the Japanese to surrender and proclaimed Vietnamese independence in August 1945 did Bao Dai abdicate and go into exile in France, where he ruled as Head of State of French-Vietnam.
During the Indochina War between 1946 and 1954, Bao Dai sided with France and thus against the Viet Minh. However, he would still go on to become Head of State of the Republic of Vietnam in 1954. His close ties to France and the West remained a problem for Vietnamese nationalists and so Bao Dai ousted from power by a coup on April 30, 1955. He spent the rest of his life in exile, where he made a name for himself as the “nightclub emperor” because of his bon vivant lifestyle. He died in 1997 at the age of 83.
How did Bao Dai get hold of the Rolex 6062?
But how did Bao Dai come into possession of the much-coveted Rolex Ref. 6062? When he attended the Geneva Conference in Geneva in 1954, which resulted in the division of Vietnam, it seems he was in the mood for some shopping. He walked from his hotel to a nearby jeweller, where he asked for the rarest and most valuable Rolex watch. The watch presented to him was the Ref. 6062 from the year 1952 – a yellow gold watch with a full calendar, which is a triple calendar displaying the date, day and month, as well as a moon phase complication.
Features of the Rolex Bao Dai
Bao Dai’s watch is one of only three black dial models known to be set with diamond hour markers on even number hours while the other two version of this model feature six diamond markers on the odd hours. Since the Bao Dai Rolex has a diamond marker at 12 o'clock, the Rolex crown is located below the diamond – which is slightly further down than usual on Rolex dials. In addition, the lettering “Officially Certified Chronometer” has been integrated directly below the moon phase display at 6 o'clock. The Ref. 6062 impresses with its wonderfully balanced 36 mm Oyster case with acrylic glass. The dial has a clear layout and the diamonds harmonise beautifully with the black colour. Inside the iconic Oyster case, you will find the automatic calibre 655.
What makes the Bao Dai Rolex 6062 so special?Among watch enthusiasts, the Bao Dai Rolex is celebrated as an absolute rarity and is considered the Holy Grail as it is the only instance of this exact watch in the world. The prestige and rarity can be explained as follows: the only other vintage Rolex with a moon phase and triple calendar, that was also produced in the early 1950s like the Bao Dai, is the Rolex Ref. 8171 with a 38 mm wide case. The other two models of the Ref. 6062 have, as stated above, a different positioning of the diamonds, making the Ref. 6062 absolutely unique. Furthermore, the model is, surprisingly, still in excellent condition. Although the watch was worn by emperor Bao Dai, the dial has lost nothing of its original grandeur.
If you now find yourself feeling disappointed that you will probably never get your hands on this model, we may be able to somewhat console you, as the regular version of the Ref. 6062 is still being sold pre-owned.