You may remember our article about large size time-only watches from the 1940s and 50s that I wrote about here last year. It was an era when the focus was to produce small, discreet watches that were a million miles away from the large pocket watches that had preceded wrist watches. The average watch size in those times was 31-32mm; think of a classic Rolex Bubbleback (or Ovetto to use the Italian parlance) with its 32mm case size and 16mm lug width. As the 1950s progressed Oyster case sizes grew marginally to an average size of 34mm. There were some experiments in the development of the Rolex Tool watches in the form of the large size Oyster cases, known as Big Bubblebacks or Ovettone, measuring in at 36mm.
But a 38mm watch? Step forward the Rolex 8029…
Not Just Oysters
The vintage watch world is in a constant state of flux with changing trends and foci from both dealers and collectors alike. One thing that will never go out of style is quality and elegance. The focus with Rolex is seemingly always going to predominantly be on the Oyster-cased watches. There are, of course, exceptions to this general rule such as the epic reference 8171 ‘Padellone’ and more recently a growing interest in the stainless steel non-Oyster ‘Precision’ watches. These watches have a very clean aesthetic that at B&S we believe are as versatile as they are stylish. The 8029 has a wonderful gentle cream patina on the dial that features the simplest non-lume dial layout with minimalist text and dauphine hands. The clean lines of the case are truly timesless.
In the 1940s and 50s this was a big watch and would have been an anomaly amongst the status quo of smaller watches. We can assume that these watches are very rare as they rarely appear on the market. I believe it is also fairly safe to assume that there must have been a push by a lot of the major brands to try an exceptionally large piece on the market, as we have seen such piece by Rolex, Omega, Longines, IWC and other well-known manufactures. Was it a trend or fad, like we saw a few years ago with watches in excess of 50mm? Maybe we’ll never know for sure, but what we can be sure about is that these watches are very sought after now.
They are hunted by connoisseur collectors who understand their rarity. And also at the Italian watch fairs and auctions you find more and more stylish collectors wearing these big oversized ‘time only’ watches from Longines, Patek, Omega, Rolex, IWC instead of the usual prestige icons as Newmans, Daytona’s, Submariners etc.
At 38mm the reference 8029 is a very contemporary size. Passionate collectors of vintage watches are often less concerned by the size of the watch, but more the quality and design of the dial and case of the watch. It can, however, feel that the watch is a little lost on the wrist when wearing 1940s pieces but the 8029 has a presence on the wrist that fits perfectly with today’s style. And it wears so comfortable on the wrist.
This is a watch that would wear beautifully with a formal suit or blazer when the occasion dictates. Equally for us it works perfectly when teamed with a cashmere sweater, jeans and sneakers. We love that pleasant contrast.