The purchase of my Tiffany & Co. Submariner ref. 5513 has made me investigate a bit about the Rolex Sports models double signed by the NYC retailer.
Tiffany & Co. is a U.S. jewelry and silverware company founded by Charles Lewis Tiffany and Teddy Young in New York City in 1837. The store initially sold a wide variety of stationery items, and operated as Tiffany, Young and Ellis in lower Manhattan. The name was shortened to Tiffany & Co in 1853 when Charles Tiffany took control, and the firm's emphasis on jewelry was established. Tiffany's flagship store (since 1940) is located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street in Manhattan , New York City .
The Tiffany & Co. Rolex are “ordinary” Rolex (i.e. with no technical specificities) with the retailer’s name added on the dial. Apparently, the marking was sometimes done in NY “by a watchmaker with a pencil and paint”, sometimes by the dial manufacturer under the control of the New York City store
There are not many information available about these watches, but here’s what I have been able to put together…
Apparently, Tiffany & Co. started to put their name on the Rolex they were selling in the late 1950’s: I have found a Tiffany & Co. ad featuring a Rolex dated 1959. Here’s a late 1950's Explorer ref. 6610 with a very uncommon early marking (Photo O.E.):
In the early 1960’s the marking is still the same, like on this Explorer reference 1016:
In the mid 1960’s, the Tiffany & Co. marking becomes different, with a somewhat thicker font like on this Submariner ref. 5512 (Photo BJSOnline):
Or my Submariner ref. 5513:
The same kind of markings appears on this 1960’s Cosmograph ref. 6239 (Photo: Philipp Stahl):
Or this late 1960’s Submariner ref. 5513 with papers:
In the 1970’s, the markings seem to become more “standard”, like on this Submariner with date ref. 1680 (Photo Andrew Shear):
This 1655 Freccione:
or this Cosmograph ref. 6263 (Photo Paul Boutros):
In the seventies, some rare birds have obviously been issued: here are several examples of Red Submariner ref. 1680 and Double Red Sea Dweller ref. 1665, with a Tiffany & Co. marking that may be either white or red (Photos Forstephan):
Here’s another special watch, a very rare Milgauss ref. 1019 (Photo nbtimes):
And a “rail dial” Sea Dweller ref. 1665, with a very odd and tiny marking (Photo Forstephan):
A more important number of watches has been issued in the “sapphire era” until the early 1990’s. These watches can more easily be found with the original box and papers. The box is a specific light green box and the papers bear the name of the retailer.
Here’s a rare Submariner ref. 16800:
A Submariner ref. 16610:
An Explorer ref. 16550:
And a Cosmograph ref. 16520:
In conclusion, we can observe that almost every Rolex sport model has been retailed by Tiffany & Co.; there are important variations of the font type used for the dial markings over the years, which makes the expertise of these watches very complicated. As usual, the collector looking for such a watch must focus on the provenance, although this might be difficult for a vintage piece.
I would be happy to have more informations about these watches, so feel free to add your contribution.
This message has been edited by DrStrong on 2008-12-08 04:40:26
Thanks, Dr. Strong for giving us very exciting informations
Very nice "story" n photos.
Thanks Jeff for this great job, like always.
I feel that I have a Rolex virus. This pieces are really keepers.
I hope to have something so one day.