Rolex Oyster Perpetual Bubbleback 1934 18K Pink Model Ref.3458 1st Edition!


100% Genuine & All Original

Fully Restored, Serviced & Guaranteed

Rolex 1st Oyster Perpetual Model Ref.3458

Rare 18ct Pink Gold 32mm Rolex Oyster Case

A Stunning Very Lightly Used Immaculate Example

A Beautifully Restored Black ‘California’ Sub Seconds Dial

Cal.9 3/4’’, 17 Jewel Chronometer Super Balance Movement

All in Absolutely Simply Stunning Condition from Every Aspect

Chestnut Alligator Strap with a Rolex Pink Gold Plated Buckle

VGWL Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee

Vintage Rolex Precision Presentation Box

VGWL 12 Months’ Warranty Included*

Free UK Next Day Delivery

Overseas FedEx £45

Sold 17th Feb '18
VGW Reference: R511
Price £6,945 Sold


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Why This Watch Is Important!  – The First Generation Rolex Oyster Perpetual.

The First Successful Automatic Wristwatch. – The First Rolex Bubbleback Reference 3458

Rolex passed some important stepping stones during 1931 – 1933. The still relatively young company was granted a number of new patents protecting its forthcoming ‘Auto Rotor’ self-winding watch mechanism. This was the first movement to use a free rotor which rotated through a full 360 degrees to wind the watch and it is this system which is used in all modern automatic watch movements today.

The most significant of these patents was issued in May 1933, covering a tiny flat spider spring which sat on the rotor and transferred the motion to the winding gear. This innovation was a brilliantly simple device and one that made history. When launched in late 1933 / early 1934, Rolex proclaimed its first Oyster Perpetual “The Watch Sensation” of 1934.

However, due to failures by previous watch manufacturers to produce a reliable automatic wristwatch, plus a great deal of general scepticism amongst the industry and public about the need for such a watch, Rolex’s first automatic was initially very slow to sell. Only by continuing to market and improve the design did Rolex gradually gain acceptance and success, therefore production numbers were low in the early years of manufacture.

It is interesting that perhaps the most notable failure to successfully produce a reliable automatic wristwatch was by the English company Harwood. Harwood is widely recognised for inventing and producing the first automatic wristwatch and it held some important, wide-ranging patents on its automatic watch movement designs. However, the company went bust in 1929 trying to turn its automatic watch into a commercial success. This was fortunate for Rolex since this released several wide-ranging patents which had stifled developments in this area for a number of years. So perhaps the stars were aligned for Rolex, but it was certainly great timing!

Ready for the launch of its new automatic wristwatch, Rolex produced a new ‘tonneau’ version of its water and dust-proof watch case design. The principle behind the design was developed previously for the Rolex Cushion Oyster, launched in 1926, which is shown here. This tonneau case utilises the same, quite complex case design, comprising of four main parts and the movement held in a circular ring, threaded at one end for the bezel to screw onto and at the other end for the case-back. Sandwiched between (in this case) was the solid main body of the watch case, with the lugs at each side. This is significant because it is only the first generation of the Rolex Bubbleback, the Rolex Model Ref.3458, which used this complex design. This was succeeded on later models by a much simpler two-piece case design, in which the bezel forms part of the case.


Here we have a simply breathtaking and very rare 18ct Pink Gold Rolex Oyster Perpetual, (early automatic) ‘Bubbleback’, gent’s dress watch from 1934, which is in immaculate condition. This watch is totally original, having been sympathetically and expertly restored to the very highest standards by ourselves. Note the excellent definition of the ‘Thunderbird’ bezel and all the lines of the case which are clean and distinct, all of which indicate this watch has only seen light use and good care.

The Dial

The stunning semi-matt Black dial seen here is known as the ‘California’ dial. A California dial has half Roman and half Arabic numerals. Numbers 10 to 2 are Roman and 4 to 8 are Arabic. Quite why this is known as the ‘California’ dial is unclear. Some suggest it is because this design was popular and specified by Californian Rolex dealers when ordering these watches, as a great many were sold in California. Incidentally, Rolex first started making watches with California dials in 1934 and so this is also one of the first, of such dials!

This is the original dial which has been expertly restored to the very highest standards by our vintage watch dial restorers which are considered to be the best in the UK. Note: the numerals, batons and hands would have been originally painted with radioactive luminous paint. These have been replaced with the correct colour and consistency of paint, to look identical to aged luminous paint, as is the norm with vintage dials of this age which originally had luminous paint.

The dial carries the desirable subsidiary seconds dial at ‘6’ and the oh so beautiful original set of ‘Mercedes’ hands. These are so called because the centre of the ‘lollipop’ hour hand, has what looks very much like the Mercedes logo. However, there is no connection with Mercedes at all.

In our view, this is easily the best early case, dial and hands combination, all surrounded by pink gold, – simply perfection!

As you may notice, the dial is signed Rolex Oyster Perpetual and correctly, ‘Chronometre’. The earliest of these watches used the Swiss-French spelling of ‘Chronometer’.

The Watch Case

A first generation, Rolex reference 3458 in rare 18ct Pink Gold, with a screw-down Thunderbird bezel and a screw-down case-back, all in tip top fully restored condition! Even the knurling on the rim on the case-back is very close to perfect and there are no dings, scratches or any other signs of damage. Most fortunately, the external case number on the outer edge of the case-back can be clearly read as 48356 and also, under a loupe, a hallmark on the shoulder of the case can be clearly seen. This is all quite remarkable for a watch case made of 18ct gold and which is 83 years old! On the inside of the case-back, all is correctly marked Brevetee, Rolex SA, Geneva-Suisse, 31 Victories, Haute Precision. This is followed by Swiss Geneva 18ct Hallmarks and the Rolex Model Reference Number 3458.

As with all small Rolex Oyster Perpetual Bubblebacks made up to and until 1950, the case measures 32mm in diameter, not including the original period, screw-down Rolex Oyster winding crown. At 12mm deep, this is quite a deep watch for its overall size and this helps to give the watch more presence on the wrist than a normal 32mm watch. Having said this, this is a small watch by modern standards, given current trends which seems to involve some competition to prove who can wear the biggest watch! Conversely in its day, this was the normal size for a gentleman’s dress watch.

A note on early Bubblebacks – Collectively these watches, up to 1950, are known as (small) Bubblebacks because the outside of the case-back is usually quite bulbous, similar to the profile of half a squash or table-tennis ball. However, an interesting fact about the earliest ‘Bubbleback’ models is that they have a raised, flat back! This is because the profile of the earliest rotor was much flatter than the later ones when Rolex increased the size and weight of the rotor to improve the winding efficiency.

Although originally “watertight and dust proof” when new, the screw-down crown and screw-down ‘Bubble-Back’ of this watch has not been water pressure tested and as usual, our standard advice applies: Vintage watches should be kept clean and dry at all times!

The Movement

This is the original, high grade, chronometer rated, Rolex Calibre 9 3/4’’ 17 jewels ‘Super Balance’ automatic movement. This actual movement was strictly tested and rated by the Swiss Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC) as Chronometer Grade i.e. Highly Accurate and Highly Reliable. This is a nickel-finished lever movement with the rotor engraved ‘Rolex Auto Rotor’, Chronometer, Swiss Made, Patented, Super Balance. Its Rolex serial number is 93666. Note the watch should only be dated by the case serial number and not this number.

The movement has been fully restored by our Rolex trained Master Watchmaker. This involves the movement being completely disassembled and then its component parts cleaned, critical parts inspected under high magnification and then rebuilt using only original Rolex replacement parts as required. Our watchmaker’s work is excellent and following careful calibration and re-testing on 15th July, this watch is running within +4 seconds/day, timed and averaged over 6 positions. This truly is outstanding for a vintage watch of 83 years of age! These movements are strong, accurate and very reliable, making this watch perfectly suited for regular use. This movement is in A1 condition and with regular servicing, we would fully expect this watch to run happily for many more decades to come! We are pleased to offer a 12 months warranty on this watch movement*.

*Please note our 12 months warranty is only applicable if the full list price is paid.

The Strap

Although not completely brand new, this watch is fitted with an almost new, nicely broken in, thick, chestnut alligator strap, which suits the watch perfectly. The strap is fitted is with a pink gold Rolex gold plated buckle.

Note if a different colour or different style strap is preferred please let us know and we will do our best to provide your choice, free of charge.  A solid gold Rolex buckle can be arranged, but this will be at our cost price of £300.00.

The Box and Papers

Although there are no original papers with this watch, the movement, case numbers and hallmarks all match, dating the watch to 1934. A detailed written receipt, with our written 12 months’ warranty*, our Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee and a separate Insurance Valuation for the replacement value will be provided at the time of sale.

The vintage Rolex presentation box shown in the photographs is included in the sale if the list price is paid.

In Conclusion

We have here a very rare and important vintage Rolex Bubbleback watch which is in tip top condition and running accurately and reliably. This is a highly collectable watch from horology’s most famous name, which will provide an excellent financial investment as well as be something to treasure and enjoy! This watch will make a wonderful addition to any Rolex collection and also an excellent investment and heirloom piece, especially if kept in good condition.

Even though vintage gold Rolex watch prices continue to climb, we still feel sure that top class examples are underpriced. This is because as time passes and the world market for vintage gold Rolex watches continues to grow, a finite supply means prices will inevitably, climb ever higher.

A word about our prices – We always try our hardest to acquire the very highest quality watches we can find, before restoring them to the highest possible standards. We then offer these at the fairest prices we can, taking into account our pre and post sales care and service. This approach means we will never be the cheapest, but nor will we be the most expensive. Indeed there are some well-known stores in West London which are very successful, charging between two to three times the price you see here. We therefore consider our prices to be very fair, given the quality of watches we have to offer.

We are happy to accept PayPal as this is the quickest method of payment. However, if you would like to pay by UK cheque or by UK bank transfer we will be pleased to assist you with this and pass on a 3% transaction saving to you. Similarly, if you wish to pay by International SWIFT or Bank Wire Transfer, we will provide you with our BIC / Swift number and our IBAN number.

Please note, we welcome part exchanges, along with outright purchases of similar watches for us to restore, service and list. We can also offer Watch Service, Watch Repair & Watch Restoration, please see here.

If you have any questions please call 020 7727 7095 or 07515 949 250 or if calling from overseas on +44 7515949250.

We are here, ready, available and awaiting your call!

Finally, please enjoy some time spent viewing our other fine Vintage Gold Watches!

Thank you.