Rolex Zephyr Ref. 1009 circa 1955

This Rolex Zephyr underwent a radical transformation from a 1960s period piece to a modern embodiment of classic Rolex design. The piece began life as an 18 karat yellow gold Zephyr Ref. 1009 circa 1955.

It took six months to source a mint condition 18 karat gold example of an early Zephyr. Once the watch was located and purchased from a dealer in California, it was shipped to new york, disassembled, and given a full mechanical overhaul.

The case, crown, and bezel—along with hands, and a period correct, 18 karat gold Rolex tang buckle—were shipped to a facility that specializes in a tool-coating process known as DLC (diamond-like carbon). The process yields a powder-coated finish unlike traditional PVD finishes. Rather than a matte, somewhat rough finish prone to scratching, the DLC finish is hard, smooth, somewhat shinier in character, and much more durable, making it ideal for watches worn daily.

As the case was being refinished, an understated dial scheme was imagined and executed. The original champagne dial was refinished in a matte black with grey accents and white lume plots consistent with the original scheme. The original crosshair design was retained, with the lower text supplanted by the initials of the piece’s new owner.

Visually, the dial design scheme is true to the original with the exception of the lower text. The result is that—despite the radically modernized color palette—the Cloister Rolex Zephyr bears a strong resemblance to the original design. Once the dial returned and the DLC-coated case was reassembled, a black suede band with color-matched stitching was ordered and installed, with a matte brown crocodile strap ordered as an alternate and fitted with a second period correct Rolex tang buckle (again, 18 karat gold with DLC coating)

The finished product transformed the Rolex Zephyr—already a relatively unique Rolex creation—into a one-off example of 1960s wristwatch design moved purposefully into the 21st century.