19158 ‘Rainbow’ Rolex Oysterquartz
I’ll be the first to admit that, historically, gem-set Rolex have never really spoken to my heart as a collector. Yet, as I’ve said here frequently, it is the mark of a true enthusiast to be able to appreciate that which they do not necessarily desire. As gem-set watches go, I’m not sure they come more badass than a pink-fade ‘rainbow’ sapphire set 1982 Oysterquartz produced in just a handful of examples for Saudi retailer Saddik & Mohammed Attar; so hyper-niche is this yellow gold quartz beauty that, for the first time in awhile, I find myself outright desiring a gem-set watch over its sapphire-less counterpart.
Very little is still known about just why Rolex set about producing this small and highly unique Oysterquartz run for Saudi Arabia. These were not intended for any royal family or given a tradition Middle East dial signature. This was an upper-market effort of the early 80s, when the Saudi oil boom was financially on a stratospheric rise. It is not unimaginable that Rolex were aware of a handful of quite-wealthy collectors in the region and decided to reward their clients there with this gem-set variant. This was the tradition for many Rolex gem-set watches in period; not advertised in catalogues, but made available to friends of the brand and VVIP clients in small numbers.
Much like mechanical the Day-Date, a wide variety of metals, dials, bracelets, and details exist within the Oysterquartz. But this example takes that notion to the extreme; very, very few were factory gem-set. The vertically fading sapphires which adorn its bezel are also matched in fade by the dial indices if one looks closely. Rolex don’t really do true handcraft anymore as the whole line is automated, with the sole exception being their gem setting department. All of these stones were selected and set by a skilled eye before the whole precious package was shipped off to Saudi Arabia. I cannot imagine the wealth of experience this Oysterquartz has lived in its short four-decade life.
As condition goes, it’s hard to imagine it getting much better. Very strong case. Dial with no visible damage. Original box, warranty cards, and sales receipt. The only item of note is that if one looks closely at the rear image, it does appear that the upper end link has been damaged slightly. Im certain this could be remedied if it were a significant detractor to its next owner. Either way, a proposition not likely to be repeated in the secondary market for some time. It comes from a well-regarded California retailer.
Find this Rainbow Oysterquartz here from The Keystone for 275000 USD.