‘Jean-Claude Killy’ 6036 Rolex Datocompax in Rose Gold
In all their 115 years of operation, Rolex have only made a handful of what we’d call complicated watches. If you don’t know Rolex very well, you kind of just assume that, ‘Surely there are a few complicated references from all those years right? Maybe a Rolex perpetual calendar from 1962?’ Sort of and no, though that makes my imagination run. In the modern lineup, there’s the Sky-Dweller. But we don’t like to talk about that one. From the golden era there are basically three flavors: the Padellone and 6062 (and associated refs), both astronomical full calendars, and this full calendar chronograph known as the ‘Jean-Claude Killy’ here in ref. 6036. And pink gold no less.
French alpine skier Jean-Claude Killy took home a trifecta of golds in the 1968 Winter Olympics, a dominant force on the slopes. This skill rocketed the man to public consciousness and early 70s limelight. Rolex have a habit of sponsoring the most established athletes, whatever the discipline. This strategy was in play even then, and Killy was in fact a Rolex ambassador. Moreover, he was eventually on the board. And yet, the Rolex which bears his name has hardly been seen on his wrist. It is reported that Killy owned a 6236, but photographic evidence is slim. Nonetheless, the connection is now firm established and collectors rarely let a good name go free.
The Datocompax evolution is comprised of five references: 4768, 4767, 5036, 6236, and this 6036. All boasted a triple calendar and chronograph, all anti-magnetic, and some in Oyster cases. The run covered mid 1940s until the early 60s, or in Rolex years no time at all. This 6036 was produced in approximately 500 steel examples, 170 yellow gold examples, and 144 pink gold examples such as this. More than rarity though, I find the Killy has a certain accomplished yet relaxed demeanor. It’s the Rolex chronograph when you really, really know Rolex. There are rooms full of Paul Newmans. I’ve never seen a room full of Killys. And comparatively, whatever intrinsic value one can say a half-million dollar watch has, this has just as much merit if not more as a the Daytona. It’s a footnote in Rolex history but for those paying close attention, a true end game chronograph with a coronet. Now I just need to take up the ski racing side. And being charming. And handsome. Speak French. Merde, maybe I’ll just stick to the watch instead.
Rolex’s mid-century pink gold alloys are subject to a bit of oxidation over time, an effect that is now desirable. There’s light oxidation on the case sides and lug backs that just looks mega to me. The case is very full, with deep hallmarks and sharp edges. Its dial is showing its age beautifully, with some darkening near the case oxidation and a light cream tone overall. All printed scripts are visible and strong. I love the applied indices and 12, which have a little bit of patina on their surface. It’s a fantastic bit of Rolex history, and comes as a watch only from a well-regarded California retailer.
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