3612 Rolex Centenario Coin Watch
Imagine looking at a coin and thinking, ‘I could fit a watch in that’. In the early part of the last century, Joseph Vergely did that. In fact, many did; the coin watch is something of a forgotten trend. Today, trends look like a new dance on TikTok, gluing yourself to a road to save the bees, or a fentanyl habit. But a century ago, trends were things like trying to create a thin-enough mechanical calibre to fit inside a coin while creating a secondary articulating case inside. And it’s not just Rolex, all the names you know got involved: Cartier, Patek, AP, VC, even JLC, all the big names of the time flexed their watchmaking ability through, or rather in, currency.
This is not what comes to mind with the brand Rolex, but it is one. The coin watch was a roaring 20s success which continued through the mid-century, finally dwindling in the latter half of the century. Rolex was there from the start, though sometime around the 60s a few of their coin watches began to be produced with lugs. Nearly all coin watches you’ll find are effectively pocket watches, and not made to be worn. But these were different. And if you choose you wear a coin on your wrist, it will attract questions today (where practically no one knows what a coin watch is), which is just fine. Because the true joy of a coin watch, as its wearer, is being able to watch the ‘lightbulb moment’ go off in friend’s minds repeatedly as you hinge the front open to reveal the watch inside.
But this particular coin and watch are a bit special for the history of Hairspring’s Southern neighbors. Rolex don’t do limited editions, right? Well they did in 1971 and there are a few others if you know where to look. This is 1 of a limited 10 wristwatches made from the Mexican Centenario, or 50 Peso, coin. It was minted in 1921 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Córdoba, signed 1821, which ended the Mexican War of Independence with Spain. Rolex marked 150 years of independence by immortalizing ten Centenario coins in wristwatch format, for their best customers in Mexico. It’s just 5mm thin and a perfect 39mm overall. And this one comes out of Mexico City. It is a watch out of its time, a lost art today, but very much of its place—a celebration from Rolex of all that is great and independent about Mexico.
This example is one of just two I can ever remember selling. The last was in 2015 on LiveAuctioneers, where it passed with an estimate of 25-40K USD. Today, we’re in a very different world and market as watches are concerned. And, plus, this one has condition on its side. This example appears sharp and very original, still with its correct original bracelet and clasp. It comes as watch only from a well-regarded Mexican retailer.