Rolex has built an empire glorifying and encouraging human achievement and innovation. From the highest mountain summits to the deepest ocean points, Rolex keeps on exploring, alongside the achievers, the concept of watch tools and the practical aspect of watchmaking, not concentrating in high complications. Nevertheless, every now and then, the brand puts together its know-how and proves the excellence of its watchmaking capability. The best example of this case, would be the Rolex Datocompax, affectionately nicknamed after the most prominent ski champion of the 60s and Rolex ambassador Jean Claude Killy.
Rolex ref. 6036 “Jean Claude Killy” in pink gold, 1951. Discover more at onlyvintage.com
The name Datocompax is a description of the watch itself, consisting of a complete Date (Dato) and subsidiary dials which are also known as “compax”. It consists of five different anti-magnetic references, the 4767, 4768, 5036, 6036 and 6236. The shortest history among them belongs to the reference 4768 which was produced alongside the 4767 but was discontinued shortly after with a total production of approximately 220 pieces. It was the only Datocompax fitted in a non-waterproof snap back case, consequently not carrying the “Oyster” writing on its dial, instead the simple “Rolex Chronographe”.
The real breakthrough, the reference 4767, had the famous patented Oyster screw-down case and the famous “Oyster Chronographe” on the dial. It was the first triple calendar chronograph fitted inside an Oyster case along with a Twin lock double seal crown. It was launched in 1947 while its successor, the reference 5036, had a production that lasted from approximately 1948 until 1951.
Rolex ref. 4767 “Dato-Compax” in yellow gold, retailed by Serpico & Laino. Photos from Onlyvintage
Continuing on the linear of Datocompax references, we have the reference 6036 which was in production circa 1951 and over a period of four years. Up until this reference, the Datocompax would preserve its two-piece construction case. In the mid-late 1950s the last reference of this iconic model would appear, the 6236. Historically, it is said that this was the actual reference that Jean Claude Killy appeared to be wearing although with the passing of time, all references were attributed with his name. The most significant difference of the 6236 compared to the rest of the references was the bezel. It was enlarged and easily identifiable and was part of a three-piece case construction.
Rolex ref. 6236 “Jean Claude Killy” in stainless steel, 1960. Details of the dial and case back. Photos from Onlyvintage
The Datocompax was launched shortly after the II World War, in a period when the market was not strong enough to support a great demand. Rolex produced the Dato-Compax reference mainly in stainless steel, followed by yellow gold and most exclusively, pink gold. Low production numbers and the greatest complication timepiece ever made by Rolex are exactly the words that Rolex collectors are eager to hear. Their passion for this piece is found in the outcome of auction results. In May 2016, a Datocompax ref. 4768 in steel and yellow gold sold for CHF 233,000 (approx. 215,000 euros) during the Phillips auction. In November 2016 in Phillips Hong Kong, a ref. 6036 in pink gold, circa 1951 achieved HK 2,960,000 (approximately 340,000 euros) while in November 2016, a ref. 4767 in yellow gold with two-tone dial priced up to CHF 310,000 (approx. 283,000 euros).
Rolex ref. 6036 in pink gold, Spanish triple calendar, 1951. Sold for HK 2,960,000 (approx. 340,000 euros). Discover more at www.phillips.com
Rolex ref. 4767 triple calendar chronograph in yellow gold with two-tone dial, 1949. Sold for CHF 310,000 (approx. 283,000 euros). Discover more at www.phillips.com
The existence of Datocompax is the proof that Rolex was not afraid of exploring its own creative and innovation boundaries. In addition to the rare level of complication for Rolex, this reference embodies a classic, subtle elegance in its lines and is still, in our opinion, a watch whose market price has not yet reached its true value.
Author: Luca Balella