Rolex Oyster Perpetual ‘Eaton Century’ 14ct 1956


100% Genuine & All Original

Fully Inspected, Serviced & Guaranteed

Rolex Oyster Perpetual, Rolex Model 5590

Rolex Cal.1530, 25 Jewel Automatic Movement

Swiss Hallmarked, 14ct Solid Yellow Gold Rolex Oyster Case

Smooth Bezel, Body and Case-Back, all in Immaculate Condition

Large 35mm Diameter Case, excluding the Original Rolex Crown

Beautiful Unrestored Off-White Dial with ‘Alpha’ Hands

New Brown Alligator Strap with Rolex Gold-Plated Buckle

Rolex Presentation Box Included, as Shown

VGWL Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee

VGWL 12 Months’ Written Warranty*

Free Worldwide FedEx Delivery

Free UK Special Delivery

VGW Reference: R1183
Price £6,450


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Founded in 1905 in England by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis as Wilsdorf & Davis, the partnership became known as the Rolex Watch Company in 1915, moving to its new Geneva headquarters in 1919. The success of the wristwatch can be largely attributed to many of Rolex’s innovations which made the company one of the most respected and well-known of all luxury brands. These have included its famous “Oyster” case — the world’s first water-resistant and dustproof watch case, invented in 1926 — and its “Perpetual” — the world’s first reliable, self-winding movement for the wristwatch, launched in 1933. These would form the foundation for Rolex’s Datejust and Day-Date, respectively introduced in 1945 and 1956. Also and equally importantly, Rolex is known for its sports watches, such as the Explorer, Submariner and GMT-Master launched in the mid-1950s.

During the 1930s and ’40s, Rolex also became quite masterful at courting tremendous publicity and excitement through literally being ‘on hand’ during numerous record-breaking events. These were, for example, swimming the English Channel (1927), breaking the world automobile speed record (300mph, 1935), breaking the sound barrier (1947) and climbing Everest for the first time in 1953. No matter how well orchestrated these events came to be, we have to admire Rolex for becoming masters of self-promotion and capitalising on every opportunity with simultaneous worldwide marketing campaigns.

Of course, Rolex is now so ubiquitous it is almost its own kind of its currency. A Rolex is the watch you want on your wrist when you’re in a Third World country when a revolution breaks out, there’s only one seat on the plane – and there’s a guy standing there with a machine gun! You give him a Rolex and he’ll give you the seat!

What Makes This Watch Special

The rarity and collectability of the Eaton Quarter Century derive from the fact that almost uniquely among Rolex timepieces, these watches display no external “Rolex” branding.  Only upon removing the case-back, can one confirm that inside the case is properly signed by Rolex and this is essentially a Rolex Oyster Perpetual fitted with a Rolex Cal.1530 movement.

Many assume this unique gentleman’s automatic wristwatch was produced by Rolex for the alumni of the famous Eton College. However, these watches were in fact custom made by Rolex exclusively for T. Eaton Co. Ltd., which was once Canada’s largest department store retailer. Founded in 1869 in Toronto by Timothy Eaton, Eatons grew to become a retail and social institution in Canada, with stores across the country, buying offices across the globe and with a catalogue that was found in the homes of most Canadians. A changing economic and retail environment in the late 20th century and mismanagement culminated in the chain’s bankruptcy in 1999.

‘1/4 CENTURY CLUB’ watches were custom made by Rolex exclusively for Eaton’s as an award to employees who had worked for the company for 25 years. They were all made in 14ct gold with beautiful Bombé lugs, and usually engraved on the case-back with the employee’s name and the years of service. However, this example remains without an inscription.

During the 1950s and ’60s Rolex occasionally allowed its largest authorised dealers to co-sign its dials, but it hardly ever produced a model so radically different as this. Such is the uniqueness and scarcity of the model, a comparison could almost be made with the Rolex Comex Submariner, although the Comex was a much more technically advanced commercial divers watch.

The Dial

This Rolex custom made dial has the letters ‘1/4 CENTURY CLUB’ inscribed, instead of the normal numerals or hour markers, and in place of the name Rolex was ‘Eaton’.

The beautifully aged, original and unrestored dial displays the intricate “Eaton” script logo along with “Swiss” below the 6. The hour indices are applied gold, spelling out “1/4 CENTURY CLUB” clockwise around the dial.

This dial is completely original and untouched. Inevitably, it therefore shows some evidence of staining and spotting commensurate with ageing.  It’s somewhat unfair, as here, to produce very large images of an unrestored dial because this example is, in fact, in remarkably good condition with a nice even patina with no pitting or scratches. It looks far more attractive and charming in natural light and on the wrist, rather than close up under studio lights and a macro lens.

The original lume plots remain as do the original, unrestored ‘Alpha’ style hands, which are also in remarkable condition.

Many people prefer the originality and charm of an untouched dial. However if you would prefer, upon purchase, we will restore the dial for you at our cost price to bring it back to almost as new condition.

The Case

This is a rare Rolex model ref. 5590 Oyster Perpetual ‘Bombé’ in 14ct yellow gold.  The case measures 35mm in diameter, excluding the Rolex Twinlock screw-down winding crown.

Of all the 1950s vintage Rolex Oyster Perpetual dress watches, bombé cased models are easily the most elegant. The beautiful bombé sculptured lugs case with a plain bezel and early 1950s dial is a simply wonderful combination and one which always delights us. The beautifully sculpted lugs transform the case into something quite special and classy, compared to the usual angular Rolex Oyster case. The case also has the more sought after smooth bezel, which just like the rest of the case, is superb condition.

The case has simply been professionally cleaned and lightly hand-polished, simply to remove any tarnish and to bring it back to the condition you see here. The case-back is of full thickness and has never been inscribed.

Inside the case-back, all the markings are correct and as expected with the beautiful earlier Rolex scroll signature and signed ‘Montres Rolex SA Geneva Switzerland’ with Geneva Swiss 14ct hallmarks and 0.585, along with the Rolex model number 1011.  The case serial number 529343 is also clear, indicating the year of manufacture as 1956.

Note this is a transition case, hence the 5590 model reference between the lugs and the 1011 reference on the inside of the case-back.

Please note – as part of the restoration we have replaced all the rubber seals on the case-back and the winding crown and stem tube. However, although the watch was specified as waterproof when new, this has not been tested and it is not guaranteed. As ever, our standard advice applies: Vintage watches should be kept clean and dry at all times.

The Movement

The Rolex Calibre 1530 automatic movement seen here was introduced in 1956/57 and represented a huge step forward over the earlier Oyster Perpetual movements. Released with the Cal.1520, these introduced the 1500 series in both 25 and 26 jewel versions. Initially, as seen here, the butterfly rotor graduated to the familiar half-moon type.  This series was extremely precise and reliable and continued in both the Oyster Perpetual and Submariner and Air King models until around 1965.

The movement seen here is working perfectly following a thorough overhaul and service by our vintage Rolex specialist watchmaker and after calibration and timing, the movement is running strongly and accurately at +7 seconds per day. This is truly excellent for any watch of this age and has been confirmed on our electronic Timegrapher. The movement also has a 41 hour power reserve. The movement is all correctly signed ‘Rolex Perpetual Chronometer’, ‘Swiss Made’ and ‘Patented’, with the movement reference number 18774.

This watch movement is now ready for many more years of faithful service and is perfectly suited for daily use and is offered with 12 months’ warranty on the movement*.

Please note – our 12 months’ warranty is only applicable if the list price is paid.

The Strap & Buckle

The watch is fitted with a new Brown Alligator strap and matching gold-plated Rolex buckle. However, if a different colour or style of strap is preferred, please let us know and we will do our best to oblige free of charge. We carry tan, conker, dark brown and black in stock in plain padded leather, crocodile skin or lizard skin. We can also obtain most types and colours from our partners at ‘Watch Obsession’ within 48hrs. Please take a look at their huge range of 19mm straps if you wish here.

The Box and Papers

Although there are no original papers with this watch, the reference numbers, markings, signatures and hallmarks are all correct, dating this watch to 1956.

Detailed particulars will be included with our purchase receipt for your interest and security. A separate insurance valuation for the replacement value of this watch will be provided at the time of sale along with our unique ‘Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee’ which states: “If this watch proves to be anything less than 100% genuine, authentic and original, a full refund will be given at any time”.

The matching Rolex presentation box as shown in the photographs is included in the sale.

In Conclusion

This is a truly rare and collectable example of a 1956 vintage Rolex automatic which is ready to wear and completely practical for everyday use. If treated with care, it will make an excellent investment or heirloom piece and even though vintage gold Rolex prices have risen markedly recently, we still feel good examples such as this are still undervalued. As each year goes by and the world market for vintage gold Rolex watches continues to expand, prices will continue to climb ever higher.

To summarise, this is a highly collectable vintage watch from horology’s most famous name, which is ready to wear, use, treasure and enjoy, providing excellent reliability and a sound financial investment, as long-lasting as the watch itself!

A word on our prices – We always try our hardest to acquire the very highest quality watches we can find, before then 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 highly successful charging between two to three times the price you see here. We therefore consider our prices to be 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% 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 check the import duties and any taxes your government may apply, these are different for each country and unfortunately out of our control.

We understand there may be some ‘loopholes’ that may help you avoid these charges, however attempting to use these could impact our ongoing ability to serve our growing international customer base.

For those that happen to visit the UK on occasion we are of course more than happy to store your watch until we can meet you in our offices in Kensington, London, and your watch directly to you there.

If you have any questions please call on Landline 0207 727 7095 or Mobile 07515 949250 or if calling from overseas on Landline +44 207 727 7095 or Mobile +44 7515 949250

Please note, we welcome part exchanges. If you have a watch or small collection for sale, please contact us as we will be happy to discuss.

We will also be happy to Service your watch, Repair your watch or Restore your watch, all at ‘sensible’ prices. Please see here.

Please take a look at our other fine vintage gold watches.

Thank you.