This unassuming, humble Oyster is in fact one of the rarest Rolex references ever produced. One could be mistaken for thinking that Heuer had the monopoly on vintage Abercrombie & Fitch (this was way back when the marque were an elite luxury outdoor outfitter and not an excuse for narcissists to get paid and/or clothed in the 90s). But Rolex also made a watch specifically to be retailed for that top luxury outdoor adventure name. This ref. 6429 ‘Commando’ was just that.
The nickname comes from the fact that many of these, though not this example, had the script ‘COMMANDO’ printed at 6. Why the name? The 6429 also sold to US military bases, though never issued. The only two places the 6429 were ever available new were to servicemen or patrons of A&F in the late 60s. It retailed for 108 USD. Today, prices are a little different. Some have speculated that the US requested a basic and robust watch from Rolex and this was their reply, then excess stock was channeled through A&F. Others have suggested that Rolex made the watch at the request of A&F and the US military only became interested after the fact. In either direction, the serial range is very narrow. All appear in cases stamped 2,0xx,xxx, indicating just a year or two of production. This makes it one of the most scarce references ever to have a coronet.
Aesthetically, it’s a 34mm steel Oyster case with an Explorer-adjacent design on a rivet bracelet. The calibre is a simple, non-COSC, manual 1225. In retrospect, that manual calibre allows for a very thin case which sits better than most Oyster Perpetuals on wrist. Modern collectors will appreciate this. The entire package was intended to be very basic. It is only rarity that has propelled this humble three-hander to stratospheric valuations and collectability. Very little concretely credible information is out there about the Commando, and surely that is a part of its siren song as well. In any event, the extreme demand will likely continue on a steady march as collectors are increasingly exploring Rolex’s more dimly lit corners here and in all media.
This example has a fantastic dial. No damage, evenly golden tritium, and clear printing. Its case has full lug proportion, though I suspect has seen a polish. Its caseback has one rather large bash. Otherwise, it is as one would hope on its original rivet bracelet from a well-regarded retailer.
Find this 6429 here from Oliver & Clarke for 24500 USD.