Sotheby’s autumn sale on Sunday 13 November 2011The historical Rolex Oyster Perpetual of Dr. Rajendra Prasad
Sotheby’s autumn sale of Important Watches on Sunday 13 November 2011 will be spearheaded by a Rolex wristwatch that belonged to one of the leaders of the post‐World War II era: the first President of the Republic of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad.
It is an exceptionally rare and historical Rolex Oyster Perpetual, dating from circa 1948 and possibly presented to the first President of the Republic of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad on the occasion of the inauguration of the Republic of India on 26 January 1950 (illustrated below). The dial of this 18K pink gold automatic sweep seconds wristwatch (ref. 3372) is decorated with the map of India in champlevé enamel4. The date inscribed on the dial ‐ 26 January 1950 ‐ attests that the present watch was most likely a celebratory gift commemorating India’s first Republic Day.
Estimated at CHF 200,000‐400,000 ($222,000‐444,000), this watch has never appeared on the market. It was commissioned together with a quasi‐similar watch in 1948 and delivered to the Rolex agent in Bombay in February 1949. The other watch (last sold by Sotheby’s Geneva in May 2003) was presented to the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru on the occasion of the inauguration of the Republic of India. It was accompanied by a letter stating that the other watch appeared to have been made for Dr Prasad.
An early member of the Indian National Congress, Dr. Prasad (1884‐1963) fought alongside Mahatma Ghandi for India’s independence from the British “Raj”. In charge of the food and agriculture in the interim government formed by Nehru in 1942, he became President of the Constituent Assembly, in charge of drafting the constitution of the future Democratic Republic of India in December 1946. Following the enactment of the Constitution on 26 January 1950, Dr. Prasad was elected the nation's first President, an office he served for 12 years until 1962.