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The Rolex 1530, a rare and special slice of vintage watch

By on 26 February 2010 in Watches

The Rolex 1530, a rare and special slice of vintage watch
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Once you’ve made that first, fumbling and utterly fantastic jump from modern to vintage timepieces you eventually settle into a phase of information and contemplation. Yes, it would be almost Zen-like were it not for the hunger that devours your brain, your time and your wallet.

Hours on the internet are spent drilling into the maniac’s forums (read: virtual asylums) poring over hundreds of photos of delectable timepieces, asking, probing ever-deeper into the depths of watch minutiae. It’s the latter that really separate the experts from the digital cruisers. Guys (they usually are) who know the difference between a Zenith-movement Daytona with “hanging” and “non-hanging” dials. Guys who can spot a dodgy bezel or dial just by looking at posted photos, fer Chrissakes! In others words, The Guide’s kinda people.

And we joined  them (though still newcomers) when we traded in our first vintage timepiece – an immaculate Rolex Oysterquartz 17000 (with box and papers, and our thanks to for the info) – for the physically robust and rare Rolex 1530. An almost identical watch but for the automatic movement and dial. See? Nuttyville indeed.

So, what exactly are we talking about? Well, the Rolex 1530 served as the case and integrated bracelet front-runner for the later Oysterquartz. And what a fabulous design it is, as well as being one of the most robust bracelet designs out there, with the first solid middle links to be found on a Rolex bracelet. But while the Oysterquartz was uncommon with only 25,000 made, the 1530 is significantly rarer still, with estimates of somewhere between 500 and 1,500 made.

And there’s more. You see, while our Oysterquartz had a lovely silver dial, it had no patina to speak of, apart from the aged hour and hand tritium fill (see the last pic on the post below). In fact, it looked like it had just come our of the showcase. And our developing purist eyes had an issue with that.

Meanwhile, the 1530 has a gorgeous, and soft, yellowing sheen to its dial, giving us that aged patina that we now insist every vintage piece in our collection must have. Lastly, the particularity of the two piece dial – the outer angled dial particularly – seduced us utterly, bestowing depth and terrific pull to the 1530 when you do things like, um, consulting for the actual time .

Yeah, you can probably guess that this wasn’t a straight trade, and our dealer is a couple of thousand euros richer after carting away our boxed Oysterquartz. But we’re left with a piece we will never trade in or sell. It’s special, rare and beautiful. And it’s the Rolex 1530, folks.


The Rolex 1530, a rare and special slice of vintage watch

Once you’ve made that first, fumbling and utterly fantastic jump from modern to vintage timepieces you eventually settle into a phase of information and contemplation. Yes, it would be almost Zen-like were it not for the hunger that devours your brain, your time and your wallet. Hours on the internet are spent drilling into the […]

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Straight-Six had a proper job as a journalist for Dow Jones before lowering himself gently into the warm, forgiving waters of The Guide. He’s our resident fanatic: he relished detailing his BMW M3 for two full days at a time before crashing it at Eau Rouge in the wet; he spends insane amounts on his home-cinema system and has thrown tens of thousands of euros at vintage Rolex sports watches. The little fool simply does not understand the concept of restraint or the meaning of excess. He also – following a legendary "heavy" lunch – once nibbled (yes, like little dogs do) a dear lady friend of ours.

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  • The Prodigal Fool

    We’ve talked about this already: I salute your choice. The 1530 is a very special watch if only for its inherent rarity and I think you did the right thing by trading up.


    I read the post twice before I realised that the last photo is in fact your old Oysterquartz not the 1530. My point? You can barely tell the difference. “A couple of thousand euros richer” you say? That dealer of yours must have a wry smile to himself every time he thinks of you…The vintage bug is an expensive affliction.

    • Straight-Six

      Indeed, old friend, the difference is slight but significant.

      The rarity, integrated case/bracelet, aged dial and the automatic movement all lead to the additional shekels I had to hand over to the trader. But here’s something that will make you smile: I made a profit on the Oysterquartz on the trade-in, and I’d only had it for 4 months or so.

      So, yes, my trader may as well have my bank card and PIN number, but I’m gonna keep squeezing him for quality pieces and nabbing them when I can. I figure it’s a fair trade.

      Expensive? Yes. Worth it? You bet your ass it is!

  • Boris

    This is one of the coolest Rolex out there. For a Rolex it is comparably rare, and it shows another exception in Rolex watchmaking combining the case of the Quartz Rolex with an automatic movement.

    • The Prodigal Fool

      Though it pains me to say it, I agree: I think Straight-Six picked himself up a real treasure here.

      • Straight-Six

        One that shall be returning from Rolex in absolutely perfect mechanical condition, and ready to roll for another 5-7 years…

        Now, I need to address the bloody lume at 12 o’clock which ain’t supposed to be there, but that’s another story for another post!

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  • Design Guy

    Finally!! I’ve had this watch (Rolex 1530) for years and could never find a reference. I’ve known of it’s history, but this is only the second time I’ve seen a photo of another one.

    My grandfather purchased this watch new in Wichita Falls, TX., and wore it until his death about 5 years ago. I remember when he purchased the watch in the late 70’s, and I recall being SO impressed with how cool it looked, and how perfect the crystal was. I also remember him stating that it was a $1000 watch!!

    Whenever I visited my grandparents, I would ask to clean the watch – my grandfather was a WORKING man- when not at his dentist office, he was outside working. The watch was always dirty. When he passed, my grandmother gave me the watch in it’s original box with all the paperwork and certificates.

    I have had Rolex service the watch twice, once when my grandfather was alive, and once more recently. It looks new, except for the microscopic chips on the outer edge of the sapphire crystal- he was very rough on this thing.

    The paperwork is interesting because the Movement Testing was done in 1964, and the certificate is dated 1975. I originally thought he purchased the watch in 1977, but cannot verify that.

    I love discovering the history behind things, and it’s especially nice to know that my grandfathers watch is as rare as he was. Just thought I’d share the story.

    • Straight-Six

      Design Guy,

      It was really heart-warming to read your comment. I mean that. Nothing like hearing about the history of the person who wore a special watch and then had the generosity and vision to pass it on to someone who would treasure it as much as they do.

      Apparently, anywhere between 500 and 1,500 of these were made, so both you and I have a very rare and special watch indeed! Unfortunately, mine has had some of the luminescent dots (poorly) redone, grating the perfectionist in me. But, truth be told I’m tempted to ignore this and just get on with enjoying this incredible piece!

  • Design Guy

    I do feel fortunate to have been given the watch. I am the only “watch geek” in my family, and the only one willing to pay the price for the proper upkeep. I’ve also inherited my paternal grandfathers Rolex. The unique feature of that watch is the solid gold bracelet. It’s a jubilee 14k made by Rolex in the US, not Switzerland.
    Back in 1987, I purchased my Rolex Explorer II. So my son will have a nice family Rolex collection. However, my son will have memories of his dad wearing all the watches!

    I am surprised by the small number of 1530’s. Now that I know how to perform a proper Internet search for this particular model, I’ve run across some that say the production run was 500 pieces. I don’t know if that is verified, but still… I know this model is near impossible to find. It’s almost upsetting to know what the 1530 is selling for now, I wear this watch and it feels a little strange now that I know just how rare it is. It won’t stop me, because I wear and enjoy my watches.

    • The Prodigal Fool

      Bravo, Design Guy! I absolutely agree with your last point. No matter how rare / expensive / precious a watch is, one should always wear and enjoy it. Otherwise, what’s the point!?

      I know collectors who prefer to keep their watches in the safe. That’s an approach I’ve never understood. To me, the joy of having nice watches is that you get to experience them every day.

      Wear your 1530 in good health!

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  • http://sydneyflowershops Leroy Wordell

    Great story. I did bookmarked your site. Keep posting. Regards

  • MEA

    Hello I know this is an old thread but still very interesting and informative. Thank you.

    I happen to have come across a 1530 not knowing what it was. It is from what the limited knowledgeable previous owner said is a 14k stainless steel/gold quartz band with date and yellow quartz case ect. similar to the above piece in the photos above , except it has the yellow colored case.

    I picked it up last fall for 1500.00 US Not knowing the true worth/value. It seems like I did ok on the buy ?

    Please any opinions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    • Straight-Six


      What you’re describing sounds exactly like a two-tone (steel/gold) Oysterquartz, not the 1530. The 1530 only ever looked like the pics featured above, and was never made in steel/gold.

      All the best!

    • Me Only Me


      That would be a Rolex 1630. Not as rare as its all SS sibling, but still a very collectable watch.

      As for the “good business” part, you bet you did.

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