Friday, October 21, 2016

Apprentice Corner: Book Review

***Book Review of the Week:
Vintage Rolex Sports Models - by Martin Skeet and Nick Urul

Vintage Rolex Sports Models, written by long time collectors and watch enthusiasts Martin Skeet & Nick Urul, is a comprehensive reference for any fan of Rolex sports watches. The ‘sports’ watches consists of the Submariner, Sea-Dweller, GMT-Master, Explorer, Turn-O-Graph and Cosmograph.

Each section begins with an overview of the history of the model, describing the catalysts that lead to its conception, design inspiration, choice of movement and even how it was marketed.

This is followed by each of the model’s references listed out chronologically with even the minutest changes noted: font variations, case sizes, movements, bracelets, hands, finishes and everything else that could possibly differ is described.

My favourite section is without question the one on advertisements & literature. Full of pamphlets, magazine spreads and other advertising paraphernalia, it’s a fascinating insight into how Rolex as a brand and watch innovations in general progressed over the years. It’s rather amusing to read how watches were marketed in the 1940’s-1990’s: big bold statements like ‘a diver's dream come true!’ and ‘Rolex conquers Everest!’ were accompanied by long gushing testimonials from famous wearers and shameless self-promotion as to how damned good Rolex really is.

Need to confirm that you’ve got the right box? Check that the paperwork matches up? How do you make sense of the serial number? It’s all here with accompanying photos that’ll help you know exactly what you’re dealing with.

The price guide section is, of course, obsolete now, but such information is best checked online anyway.

There is one thing that I feel detracts from the book, however. One of my favourite things about watch books is the beautiful photographs of the watches that make you want to pick up the book time and time again, regardless of whether you’re interested in the information therein. Unfortunately, all the pictures of the models and their different references are seemingly just computer renderings. Good ones at that, but most of the watches look rather two dimensional and are without any of the ‘character’ that draws people to vintage Rolex.

In fairness, with over 140 models featured and some of them being exceedingly rare, the authors would have had a hell of a time trying to photograph them all. As well, some might see this as a good thing as it enables one to more clearly distinguish the different references, as some of the variations between them are quite subtle indeed. Nonetheless, I still think it would’ve been nice to have an actual picture or two in each section.

If you’re a serious Rolex collector with a focus on their sports watch offerings then this book would surely prove to be a valuable asset. The book was published in 2002 so don’t expect to see any information on watches produced thereafter. It is, after all, a vintage Rolex book, so if this is what you’re after it should be perfect for you.

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