Original Rolex 6238 James Bond Chronograph, worn in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)

Who knows for sure where the original Rolex 6238 pre-Daytona Chronograph watch worn by George Lazenby as James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service is located?

If there’s one thing that’s increasingly certain in the world of James Bond watches, it’s the fact that almost any claim of certainty will be questioned.

This past weekend, it was the James Bond pre-Daytona Rolex Chronograph watch “for sale,” that I first saw covered by my friends at the HODINKEE Blog on September 27, 2010.

After following up directly with the source, Matthew Bain, James Bond Watches wrote about how he was said to have come into possession of the reference 6238 Rolex worn by actor George Lazenby as Agent 007 in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (Eon Productions, 1969). Again, that was well-over a year ago.

Then, this past Saturday, HODINKEE Tweeted a reference back to their original story, the “vintage Rolex Pre-Daytona chronograph worn by James Bond himself, found by us….”

“You think this is the real deal?” I Tweeted back.

After all, I’ve never actually seen the watch; I’m certainly in no position to authenticate it, nor have I ever presumed to be.

HODINKEE answered: “Of course it is.” And when I then mused about such a treasure having remained unsold for so long, HODINKEE replied, “Hey, it’s still a $250,000 watch. They don’t exactly fly off the shelves.” Don’t they? Christie’s just sold the Syd Cain buzz-saw modified James Bond Rolex 5513 Submariner gadget watch from Live and Let Die (1973) for a price not terribly far from that.

By then we’d been openly Tweeting on the so-called Lazenby-Bond pre-Daytona Rolex Chronograph, maybe a dozen times. Over the course of half an hour. That’s when a third person, “Submariner6538,” weighed in on Twitter.

This is “NOT the watch,” he said.

The Rolex 6238 pre-Daytona Chronograph worn by George Lazenby as James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service “remains with a euro-collector,” according to Submariner6538.

Before going on here, a quick reminder of my personal position on anonymity and claims on the Internet. For the most part, I readily dismiss (and encourage others to do the same) anyone who won’t sign his or her name to what they write. It lacks accountability.

With that in mind, then — everyone I’ve cited here so far is easily identified. Matt Bain. The three of us who posted last Saturday on Twitter.

So, too, is “K,” or “Kamal,” who started a thread titled, “James Bond is needed to solve this mystery…….(more)” on Vintage Rolex Forum, November 5, 2010. This is where Submariner6538 suggested I look to back up his “NOT the watch” assertion on Twitter. Here is part of what K had written:

Well this is news to me. I think I am still alive!!! And the watch is with a client of mine in his Rolex Collection!!!

If you go to the Vintage Rolex Forum site, search on “george lazenby,” and you’ll see this thread come up, around the fifth spot. Click on “View All” to see all postings as a single run.

After reading the post that initiates this forum discussion, I recommend that anyone who’s interested in the fundamental questions here continue on to the lengthy, detailed reply by “IanT” at 5:55pm, also posted on November 5, 2010.

A lively, helpful — and, refreshingly respectful — exchange followed.

As a professional researcher and collector, these Vintage Rolex Forum exchanges from last year, coupled with the expanded HODINKEE dialogue two days ago, raise the following unanswered questions to the top of my list.

  • Is the 6238 Rolex described by IanT the same watch now in possession of Matthew Bain? Same serial number 1206613? Or, two different pre-Daytona Chronographs, with identical case numbers?
  • Matthew Bain stated to me directly that he did not have the Bucherer of Switzerland invoice, dated October 23, 1968. That had originally accompanied Christie’s December 16, 2003, sale number 9771, where the George Lazenby / On Her Majesty’s Secret Service James Bond watch was sold. Where is that document? Does the “client” referenced by K on Vintage Rolex Forum have it?
  • IanT recalled in his initial Vintage Rolex Forum post that the Rolex 6238 in question here had been tied to directly to Christie’s. He reported that the eBay Seller had brought Christie’s into the loop, and, thus, would have known that watch had commanded $39,936 in December of 2003. So, why not commission Christie’s to auction her watch in 2010? It’s hard to imagine a reasonable commission structure by which going through Christie’s wouldn’t have netted the seller more than the $18,000 her watch, with case number 1206613, that IanT recalls her having gotten.
  • Matthew Bain states that he “acts as a consultant for many watch dealers and for major auction houses such as Sothebys and Christies.” (Present tense.) Does not such access and standing suggest a readily available resolution to this, at least insofar as Christie’s is involved?

Based on what I have seen, even Rolex 6238 Chronograph watches that were not worn by George Lazenby as James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service were easily selling for amounts around the $30,000-range in 2010.

HODINKEE says this is “a $250,000 watch.” On behalf of James Bond Watches Blog readers, I’d like to be reasonably certain of the basis for that.

More to come—.

Image courtesy Christie’s (2003)