In today’s collector climate, where Rolex buyers obsess over the slightest font alignment of a rail dial, it’s refreshing to find an authentically unique dial. An authentically unique piece, at that. Khanjar or Omani Rolex are their own market with a dedicated following. In recent years, they’ve become more highly sought after. This could be down to John Mayer’s second talking watches, where he confessed to collecting them. I think it more likely that Rolex collectors love being different, but are running out of details to differentiate. Whatever the cause, all Khanjar pieces have a story to tell and this Datejust is no exception.
In 1972, it was possible (with a large enough bank balance) to call up Rolex and bulk order a few pieces with dial customization. That in itself seems like a laughable fantasy today. I can confidently say that period of time will not repeat itself. Omani & UAE royalty, military & police forces, Pan-Am Airlines, and even Dominos took advantage of this in period. The khanjar, a traditional J-shaped dagger which is a symbol of pride in Oman’s history, was used on Rolex commissioned for Omani royalty. Most purchased were intended as gifts for close friends and family and in recent years have entered the market in single digit quantities.
This 1611 was commissioned for Qaboos Bin Said Al Said, Sultan of Oman in the early 70s. There have been few khanjar Datejusts to surface in the market, the only one I can remember was this 1601 out of Dubai. Day-Dates are a little more common. Often, Khanjar Day-Dates have specialized styles of hand-engraved finishing across the bezel and center-links. This Datejust, with its original bracelet, shows off a Florentine texture. Its a beautiful (and rare) factory finishing. Qaboos Bin Said Al Said seemed to have a thing for yellow gold. However, most of his pieces also had gold dials. This 1611 was ordered with a gunmetal grey, which I prefer.
It is worth noting here that many khanjar forgeries exist. Rolex passion report has probably established the largest index of how various references should look. This is not my area of expertise, but the dial itself checks out in every way I can verify. Also, you don’t see this engraving style on anything other than Omani Rolex. Moreover, the caseback has a deep, clearly original engraving of ‘Asprey’. Asprey were a London-based retailer who sold to the VVIP clients of the old world. Watches by SJX covered their rise and fall masterfully. And lastly, if you search hard enough the provenance of this DJ is fairly well documented.
This example presents a strong case and original bracelet. There is a light fading of the khanjar which is actually desirable, probably as a result of its time in Arabian sun. It’s a beautiful example within this odd but lovely collecting niche. It comes from a known quantity in respected retailer Herschmann Ascona.
Find this Khanjar 1611 on offer here for 34400 USD.
*And if you’re looking to begin a collection, also consider this bizzare purple Omani Police Force Oyster Quartz from Lancy Aire.