03/09/2017
 4 minutes

Watches With Nicknames

By Bert Buijsrogge
Rolex Daytona 'Paul Newman', Image: © Bert Buijsrogge
Rolex Daytona 'Paul Newman', Image: © Bert Buijsrogge

Many watches out there have been given nicknames. You can split them up into several categories, but they all have a clear reason for being there. Either the watch has been regularly seen on the wrist of a famous person or it has such clear characteristics that the nickname immediately (or after a bit of thinking) comes to mind when looking at the watch. Some watches even get a nickname because of a flaw that shows up many years after production. This can be due to materials changing over the years, fading in color or otherwise.

Celebrity Watches

Rolex has a fair share of watches that are named after celebrities. Perhaps the most well-known watch is the Paul Newman Daytona. Produced in the late 60s and early 70s, this watch got its nickname from the legendary actor. Although there are different stories around, the nickname most likely began with the movie “Winning” from the late 60s. In this film, Paul Newman played a race car driver and wore a stainless steel chronograph. In the following years, Paul Newman was pictured in several publications wearing a Rolex Daytona 6239 with “exotic dial” on his wrist.

These exotic dial Daytonas are now the most famous vintage Rolex in the world. Interestingly enough, back in the day, this watch only retailed for roughly 300 dollars, but was hard to sell. Nowadays, they sell for exorbitant prices (one example was even sold for 1.1 million dollars at auction).

Chosen by Colour

Some watches have outspoken colour schemes that provide a nickname fairly easily. Good examples are the Rolex Pepsi or Coke GMT-Masters. The red and blue bezel combination clearly resembles the colours of the Pepsi Logo. The alternative red and black bezel quickly links to Coca-Cola. Kermit and The Hulk are the nicknames that have been given to the Rolex Submariner anniversary model and its unofficial successor. The LV in their titles is short for “lunette verde,” or ‘green bezel’ in English. Kermit was quickly adopted for the first version of the LV.

The later model, with its bigger case, strong green coloured ceramic bezel, and green-gold dial, became “The Hulk.” It didn’t take long for the nickname to appear and become generally accepted. Looking at the Rolex GMT-Master II BLNR with its blue and black ceramic bezel, the source of its nickname might be less clear, but while doing research, we actually found an online poll where the name Batman was chosen as the favourite name by contributors.

It’s All in the Details

Specific details that catch your attention can also be the reason for certain watch nicknames. The Rolex Sea-Dweller that has been sold for several years with two lines of red writing is known as the “Double Red” or “DRSD.” When the red writing disappeared and the four lines of writing on the lower part of the dial changed to white again, they came up with the name “Great White”.

The Rolex Explorer 1655 featured a significantly large 24-hour hand that was shaped like an arrow. Due to this hand, this model was given the name “Freccione”, which is Italian for ‘arrow.’

Beauty of the Ageing Process

Rolex 'Spider dial'
Rolex ‘Spider dial’, Image: © Bert Buijsrogge

Back in the day, there were always batches of Rolex watches out there that “suffered” some process that made specific parts of the watch change colour. Good examples of this would be dials whose surfaces changed into something that resembled a spider web. These were thus named the “Spider Dials”. The subdials on some Rolex Daytona models with reference 16520 have oxidised and turned a dark brown colour. Auctioneer Osvaldo Patrizzi, who discovered this while selling the watch during an auction, was the inspiration for the nickname Patrizzi dial”. Apparently, the watch sold for double its estimate at the time.

Watches are slightly different from other luxury objects. This is especially true with vintage items. Some watches actually earn their nickname or extra name from a process that could be considered a defect in other branches. Great examples of this are watches with a faded bezel or dial. The impact of many years of wear and tear may fade away the deep colour, yet this is considered unique by many collectors. Having a ‘tropical’ dial is considered an unique selling point that ads value. Watches with faded bezels are often given the name “ghost”.

Rolex Daytona 'Patrizzi Dial'
Rolex Daytona ‘Patrizzi Dial’, Image: © Bert Buijsrogge

From the Movies

It’s not just Rolex that has (a lot of) nicknames for their watches, many other brands have them as well. The late Chuck Maddox, who was a watch collector and expert on vintage watches, as well as a fan of sci-fi movies (hence the Star Wars connection) came up with several nicknames. He coined the “Darth Vader” and “Anakin Skywalker” Seamaster with reference 145.0023, which was available with a deep black coated case, hence the “Darth Vader.”

The contrast couldn’t be greater to the one in steel that “hasn’t turned to the dark side yet” and is thus referred to as “Anakin Skywalker.” Lastly, the “Jedi” has the reference number 145.0024, however, an auction house catalog once mistakenly called the wrong watch the Jedi and people have mixed it up ever since.

Read more about

Rolex

Rolex Submariner

Rolex Daytona


About the Author

Bert Buijsrogge

I worked in real estate for 15 years. Over the last few years, I've turned my passion for watches and photography into a career. My interest in watches dates back …

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