Rolex Perpetual Chronometer, Steel Automatic, Ultra-Rare Rolex Model Ref. 4198 1942


100% Genuine & All Original

Fully Restored, Serviced and Guaranteed

Size Large 33.5mm, Excluding the Crown

A Beautifully Well Cared For Lightly Used Example

Ultra-Rare Early Non-Oyster Model Ref. 4198 Automatic

Immaculate Non-Oyster Rolex Steel Bubbleback Case

Beautiful ‘3, 6 9’ Off-White Dial with Original ‘Leaf’ Hands

High Grade Cal.8¾, 15 Jewels, Super Balance Chronometer Movement

Absolutely Top Grade & Simply Amazing Condition

New High Quality Hirsch Camel Grain Leather Strap

VGWL 12 Months’ Written Warranty Included*

VGWL Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee

Free UK Special Delivery

Free Worldwide FedEx Delivery

Sold 6th May '20
VGW Reference: R467
Price £6,200 Sold


Out of stock

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During the late 1930s, Rolex was able to capitalise on their early success in bringing the first properly waterproof automatic watches to market. These were, of course, the early 32mm Rolex Oyster Perpetual ‘Bubbleback’ watches or small ‘Bubblebacks’ as they are often known. Announced in 1931, these full rotor automatic movements, on which Rolex held an exclusive worldwide patent, were married to waterproof ‘Oyster’ cases. These watches were heavily promoted, including full, front page advertisements in the UK national press, which turned Rolex into a household name for the first time. This, along with an almost exclusive focus on the wristwatch market, rather than the legacy pocket watch, put Rolex two or three steps ahead of the game, giving them ‘first mover advantage’ as modern parlance would have it. Some audacious marketing, for which Rolex has become almost equally famous, put this relatively young Swiss watch company well on the road to success and becoming the world leader we all know and admire so much today. In the late ’40s, the diminutive small ‘Bubbleback’ evolved into the larger 34mm and 36mm Rolex Oyster Perpetuals, many examples of which you will find on this website. These have become our main area of focus and this same watch has been developed and continually improved upon ever since, while accounting by far, for the majority of Rolex sales. The Rolex Oyster Perpetual, therefore, can truly be considered the Porsche of the modern watch market!!

As most of us are aware, the Rolex automatic (dress watch) has always been known as a ‘Perpetual’ – which is a good name, as long as one remembers the watch will only stay in motion as long as the wearer does! Almost all ‘Perpetuals’ are married to ‘Oyster’ cases i.e. waterproof cases with screw-down case-backs and screw-down winding crowns and as the Oyster case was introduced in 1926, this was nicely in time for the first ‘Perpetual’ – making the names Rolex Oyster and Perpetual synonymous from this moment forward.

So why all this history? Well, we are discussing here what has become the most successful and most collected high-end vintage watch of all time, which we can see has an almost linear parentage. That is to say, we can trace the Rolex Oyster Perpetual back directly in a straight line to this first Oyster Perpetual model announced in 1931. The early watches have, of course, been developed and improved upon many times, but there have been very few variants and this is particularly so, prior to 1950.

However, the watch we see here is a true exception. A Steel, 33.5mm cased Rolex ‘Bubbleback’, Perpetual, Chronometer, from 1942, in a non-Oyster case! With a press-fit case-back, this Rolex model, reference 4198, with a Rolex Calibre 8¾ ‘Rolex Auto Rotor’, 15 Jewels movement, is exceedingly rare. It is fleetingly referred to in one or two reference books and once or twice online, but suffice to say this is an ultra-rare watch, seen here in fully restored condition and working perfectly – with our usual 12 months’ warranty.

The Dial

This is we feel, a particularly attractive dial. Very simple, very clean and beautifully well balanced with raised gold ‘3, 6, 9, 12′ numerals and baton hour indices, over a very slightly Off-White dial. A Black Rolex crown at ’12’ and simply signed ‘ROLEX’ and ‘PERPETUAL’ and below, ‘Officially Certified Chronometer’ over the outsized subsidiary seconds dial, it is all so beautifully understated and elegant, completed by the original, simple ‘leaf style’ hands which look simply fabulous.

In many ways, this watch is the perfect understatement. For occasional or even regular use as a dress watch, you can be sure you will never bump into anyone wearing the same, or even a similar Rolex. It is also perfectly practical and wearable, as it has a robust automatic movement with a Steel case which is not going to be easily damaged. As a prospective addition to a collection, this is a very rare bird indeed, which is most unlikely to be seen again, especially in this condition.

Note: Please forgive the shadows and unevenness of the colour on the dial, due to some lighting issues while photographing this watch. This dial is, we assure you, a very even, slightly Off-White, across the dial!  This is the original dial which has been restored to the very highest standards by our dial restorers, considered to be the best in the UK.

The Case

The Steel, press-fit ‘Bubbleback’ case is in excellent condition, having been very well cared for, showing no damage and hardly any signs of wear. The press-fit case-back clicks into place very satisfyingly and has never been inscribed. The case measures 33.5mm in diameter, excluding the Rolex period crown and 38mm, including the lugs, making this a large gentleman’s watch by the standards of the day. The stepped case and deeply swept back lugs do make the watch seem a little larger, as does the quite deep ‘Bubbleback’ which makes the watch 12.5mm in depth. The case has it’s own distinctive 1940s style and being lighter than a large, or small ‘Bubbleback’, makes this design very elegant and very individual.

The case was made in Geneva by Rolex. The inside of the case-back is signed Rolex ’31 Victories’, Haute Precision, Geneve, Suisse with the Rolex signature Crown enclosed in a dome with the initials SAR. This indicates the watch was produced in 1942 or 1943. The Rolex model number 4198 is shown below the signature and externally the case carries the case serial number 057816.

The Movement

The very high quality, Super Balance, Chronometer, 15 Jewels, Cal. 8¾ automatic movement is quite rare, although it was used in one or two other automatics during the 1940s. The movement is exceedingly high grade as it was designed and built to achieve the highest result in the exacting accuracy and reliability chronometer testing standards of the day. It is very clean and in incredibly good condition. The movement has just been overhauled and serviced by our vintage Rolex specialist watchmaker and is running beautifully. It is signed ROLEX AUTO ROTOR, CHRONOMETER, 80497, SWISS MADE, PATENTED SUPER BALANCE.

This movement is top class and with regular servicing, say every 2-3 years, we would fully expect this watch to run quite happily for many decades to come. We are therefore very confident in offering this watch with 12 months’ written warranty*.

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

Strap and Buckle

A high quality Hirsch camel grain leather strap is fitted with a Hirsch steel buckle. If a different colour or style of strap is preferred, we will do our best to provide this at no extra charge.

Box and Papers

Although there are no original papers with the watch, the numbers and markings are all correct, dating this watch to 1942. A detailed written receipt with 12 months’ warranty* and a separate insurance valuation for the replacement value 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 totally authentic, or not as described, Vintage Gold Watches of London will offer you a full refund at any time”.

A high quality hardwood presentation box is included in the sale.

In Conclusion

This is a special, ultra-rare vintage Rolex watch of exceedingly high quality. It is a highly collectable and usable vintage watch from horology’s most famous name, which will provide an excellent financial investment as well as be something to treasure and enjoy. It will make an excellent evening wear dress watch as well as a practical, highly accurate and reliable timepiece to use on an everyday basis.

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 and 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.

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

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

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

Thank you.