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This Ultra-Rare Rolex Split-Seconds Just Sold for a Record $3.5 Million at Auction

One complicated Rolex broke a simple record over the weekend.

An ultra-rare Split-Seconds (Ref. 4113) hammered down for €3.3 million ($3.5 million) at Monaco Legend Group’s auction on Saturday, setting a new record price for the model.

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Produced in 1942, the timepiece is believed to be one of only 12 such models made in the early 1940s. The watches were initially intended for aviation pilots but found a niche in the Italian automotive world, according to the auction house. They were never offered for sale commercially but were reportedly gifted exclusively to members of certain racing teams instead. As such, the dozen rank as some of the rarest and most expensive Rolexes.

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Indeed, only nine Spit-Seconds are known to exist and very few are in great condition. The previous record holder sold for $2.6 million at a Phillips auction in Geneva in 2016. Another example reached just over $2 million at an auction in 2019.

Rolex Split-Seconds Chronograph Ref. 4113
The watch appears on the cover of “100 Superlative Rolex Watches.”

The Spit-Seconds showcases an oversized 44 mm steel case that ranks as one of the largest in the Crown’s collection. (The Deepsea Challenger that debuted last year has the biggest case in the catalog, coming in at a monstrous 50 mm.) Perhaps more importantly, the watch features a caliber 55 VBR chronograph movement with a split-seconds complication that can measure different time intervals. It also sports a telemeter scale to approximate the distance between the watch and something that can be heard or seen. Ref. 4113 is believed to be the only split-second chronograph, or rattrapante, ever released by the Swiss watchmaker.

Rolex Split-Seconds Chronograph Ref. 4113
The watch was sold with a cheese knife Auro Montanari used to open it in a 2013 video.

The watch sold at the Monaco auction came from the collection of Auro Montanari. The horological scholar has been collecting vintage timepieces for more than 40 years. He has also written several books about watches under the pen name John Goldberger, including 100 Superlative Rolex Watches, Longines: Legendary Watches, and A Journey Into The Deep. Coincidently, 100 Superlative Rolex Watches has a picture of Montanari’s Ref. 4113 on the cover and pages 62 and 63. The watch was auctioned with the cheese knife Montanari used to remove its caseback and show off its inner workings during a 2013 video by Hodinkee.

Montanari’s Split-Seconds now ranks as the fifth most expensive Rolex ever sold at auction.

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