BOOKREVIEW: Rolex - 3621 Watches - by K.Imai (2007)

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Fortunat Mueller-Maerki

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Sep 23, 2001

Rolex – 3621 Uhren
By Kesaharu Imai

Rolex – 3621 Uhren [Rolex – 3621 Watches]. By Kesaharu Imai, with the collaboration of Thomas Eder. With an introduction by Christian Pfeiffer-Belli, translated by Emiko Ito, Yukiko Kamishita and Tadashi Noda. Enlarged and updated 2nd German language edition 2007, published by Callway Verlag, Munchen, Germany; hardcover, dust jacket; 215 pages; 3621 color illustrations; ISBN 978-3-7667 1720 7. Available from the publisher ( ), approx. US$70 plus postage.

Compared to the collectors of any other brand of wristwatches fans of the Rolex brand are seriously handicapped. Not only have the secretive owners of the Rolex empire never opened its corporate archives to researchers or writers, but they always have vehemently refused to cooperate with anybody writing the history of the famous brand. All books ever written about Rolex are “unauthorized” and have relied solely on authors pursuing whatever information they could get their hands on rather than on actual production figures or official corporate records. This accounts for the fact that there is no single comprehensive text that thoroughly, or definitively documents the history of the brand. Thus, given the passion with which of the fanatical Rolex collectors around pursue their prey, it is not surprising that a multitude of publications have been created to fill the void.

The recently published book under review is one of the more unusual entries into this field. It is an updated and significantly enlarged version of a book first published in 1997 in Japanese and 1998 in German. The label that best describes this book is “a catalog”. The book consists of a short, illustrated documented documentation on 3621 different models of Rolex watches. Each watch listed is illustrated with a small color photograph (33mm x 40 mm, or approx 1 ¼ x 1 ½ inches) and each image –showing case with dial and hands) is accompanied by a minimalist description of the item. Included are dimensions, sometimes a date or approximate date range, often a Model Reference Number, and always an estimated current (2006/2007) price.

These entries are organized into fifteen chapters (such as pocket watches, ladies watches, Oyster Perpetual, chronograph, Submariner etc. Chapter lengths vary from a single page on Yacht-Master with 15 images, to 40 pages (with 20 entries each) on the “regular” Oyster Perpetuals. Apparently the listed prices reflect recent transactions, but obviously the information has to be taken with a grain of salt, as condition is an unknown, and the recorded transactions can be anything from e-bay to Sotheby’s (with no indication where the figure comes from). As no index is provided the usefulness of this book as a quick reference tool is somewhat limited.

Given the limitless thirst of Rolex fans for more data points to flesh out the Rolex history I have no doubt that this book will be a sought after addition to library of most Rolex collectors as it provides additional insights into the nearly endless variations of case and dial styles of the brand. What the book does not provide is a systematic or chronological overview of the brand that would be useful to a novice Rolex collector.

Submitted by Fortunat Mueller-Maerki (New Jersey)

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