In this month’s article, we look at examples of special-order watches from Rolex, Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe. These unique timepieces were created to celebrate different occasions and have become a source of collector’s interest.
Rolex & the Sultan of Oman
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos is well known for his passion for watches, and this passion led to the creation of various special dials across many brands. The most well-known among so called “Oman” dials being Rolex. These watches were mainly given as gifts to visiting dignitaries or for honorary occasions and were predominantly sourced through Asprey of London. The most famous of these are the Khanjar (dagger) dials, while the rarest & most sought after are the “Qaboos” dials; those carrying the Sultan’s signature in red. In particular, a very limited number of Sea Dwellers (reference 1665) were presented as gifts to a group of SAS operatives for their assistance in quelling a rebel uprising in the 1970s. The 1665, famous for being the “Double Red Sea Dweller”, had the name & depth rating replaced with only a signature; this provides a simplicity and elegance to the dial for which collectors are regularly willing to pay multiple times the value of a similar Rolex.
Audemars Piguet & the Royal Family of Dubai
This is a timepiece that only came to the public’s attention in 2013 at the inaugural Dubai auction by Christies. HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has had a number of commemorative watches created with his signature, in particular during his time as Minister of Defence. During that time, a number of Rolex sports models, including the Rolex Submariner reference 1680 and the GMT reference 1675 were given as awards to officers. The United Arab Emirates government, and various ministries within it, have given many such gifts as well. However, Rolex now rarely provides custom dials, therefore these have become highly sought after.
The Audemars Piguet “Sheikh Mohammed” watch has less information on the particular circumstances around it’s creation, as it seems that only a very limited number of pieces were ordered. However it has been shown that the dial left the manufacturer as currently shown and was delivered through Ahmed Seddiqui & Sons in the early 1980s.
Patek Philippe and Ibn Saud
Specially order by the Saudi Arabia Patek retailer in 1953, the ref 600/1 was created in honor of King Abdul al-Aziz III Ibn Saud (1880- 1953), founder of modern Saudia Arabia. In 18kt pink gold, the enamel dial with ruby indices is a testament to Patek Philippe’s history of supplying watches worthy of royalty. Made in a series of 200 pocket watches and 150 wristwatches, each dial carries a carefully hand painted portrait.