Rare timepiece enthusiasts and collectors of UAE memorabilia would do well to make a note of Lot 120 at the forthcoming Christie’s Important Watches auction, which will be going under the hammer on March 23 at Dubai’s Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel at 5pm. Because, for the first time ever, there will be the chance to bid for an extremely rare Rolex, featuring the Arabicised name of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice President and Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai, on its customised dial.
Described by Christie’s as “a very fine and extremely rare stainless steel, dual time automatic Rolex wristwatch with sweep centre, seconds, date and bracelet, which was serviced by Rolex Geneva in 2017,” it is a specially commissioned GMT-Master with a customised dial, presented in a Rolex box that is embossed with the crest of the UAE. The watch was commissioned by Sheikh Mohammed after his appointment in December 1971 as the UAE’s first Minister of Defence, following the founding of the country. As such, the Rolex is believed to have been made in 1972.
The lot includes a unique work of art, too: a watercolour painting of the watch combined with a digital drawing applied on aluminium, both of which have been signed by the artist. “Personalised Rolex watches are highly prized gifts often created to celebrate milestone occasions, and they are highly sought after by regional and international collectors," says Remy Julia, head of watches at Christie’s Middle East, India and Africa. "The present reference 1675 with the name of HH Sheikh Mohammed in red is an exceedingly rare example of a Rolex GMT-Master model, and given that it has never previously been offered to the market, we anticipate strong interest in this timepiece from collectors in the UAE and around the world.”
The sales estimate is being quoted as between Dh440,000 and Dh580,000, and the piece will be available for viewing at Emirates Towers from March 20.