Close up
Close up
Close up
Close up
Case back
1 / 5
Close up...Close up

Rolex Datejust 1601/9 'Carnelian'

Often mistakenly called Red Jasper, this is in fact a Carnelian dial (or “Cornelian” as Rolex refers to on their official dial code chart). Carnelian and Jasper are both varieties of Chalcedony, just like Heliotrope (which is Jasper with Hematite inclusions, also known as Bloodstone). The difference is that Jasper is Opaque, whereas Carnelian is translucent and therefore falls under the Agate category. Furthermore, one can see yellow and orange tones in Carnelian. There are four examples of a white gold Datejust with Red Jasper dial known, and there are speculations about a fifth specimen. However, to our knowledge there is only one with a Carnelian dial.


In November 2022, I visited the Geneva auctions and was about to catch my flight back to Dubai, when I got a message from someone with a private profile, zero posts and a handful of followers. This person told me he wanted to sell a very special watch. I receive messages like this everyday and more than often it's either nothing special or turns out to be nothing.

He said:

"Are you the guy that's going to buy the watch?"

After this he sent me a photo of a rose gold Datejust with a Red Jasper dial. The one that I had sold under Amsterdam Vintage Watches a year before.

He followed:

"Very nice, but the white gold is rarer."

What ever. That's what I thought. Then, he sent me a picture of a white gold Datejust with - what I assumed to be - a Red Jasper dial. The exact same watch that I had been trying to source for over a year for one of my clients. For one second, I was happily surprised but I figured this couldn't be real. He told me it was his and whether I would be interested in buying it. In the little time I had left before my plane would take off, I contacted my partners from Amsterdam Vintage Watches. They told me they had been messaged by him as well.

6 hours later, just landed in Dubai, Amsterdam Vintage Watches and I started doing our research. We came across a white gold Datejust with a Red Jasper dial. This one was sold in 2021 by Monaco Legends Auctions. I asked the seller whether this was his watch, but it wasn't.

He said: "Are you the guy that's going to buy the watch?"

He followed by saying he didn't want to sell, but that he was actually interested in buying the rose gold version so he could have a pair. After I told him this one had been sold already, he told me he was willing to consider an offer on his watch. Often when people ask for this, they don't want to sell but they're just fishing for the value of their piece. I replied:

"If you want to sell, mention your price. We do the same when we offer watches."

Usually, people respond to this by saying that they don't have a clue about the value. And then, when you make them an offer, they always say it's too low. You just said you didn't have a clue, right?

The deal

Weeks passed by and I forgot about the watch. Like I said in the beginning: I get contacted by people everyday offering me the most special watches and nine times out of ten it's either not special or does not lead to anything. That's just the way it is.

But then, a new Instagram notification from the guy popped up. He was willing to make me an offer provided that I would come to Beirut to pay in cash and pick up the watch. My response:

"Yeah, right."

To me, the whole thing sounded like a scam. He got a bit frustrated and told me he is serious and it's difficult for him to let go of a watch that has been in his possession for so long. I can understand that and I didn't mean to be rude, so I proposed to have a call.

We had a call and he explained to me that he had been collecting contemporary watches for a long time and this was his only vintage piece. He told me how he got possession of the watch, kept it with him for a long time and that he was only willing to let it go for the right price. He was a gentleman and understood that the whole situation looked a bit sketchy. After our call, I had more hope.

Still, there were two problems. First of all, his right price was not my right price. Second, even though I love the Lebanese cuisine, out of safety I was not going to come to pay cash in Beirut. I made him a counter offer provided that he would come to Dubai. He would think about my offer, but he would not come to Dubai.

I asked him why and he replied:

"Because you want to buy and not me."

That was kind of true. A couple of weeks passed by. In the meanwhile, I told my client that I was working on a deal but couldn't promise anything. We agreed on a price, but the seller still didn't take my offer. I sent him a reminder and he told me he would get back to me. A couple of days later I received a counter offer. Still under the condition I would pay cash in Beirut. The counter offer was not bad and not far from what I wanted to pay so I got back to my client and he accepted it. However, we didn't figure out yet how to get the watch with my client and his money in Beirut.

I told him this:

"Brother, I will accept your offer, but only if we can find another way to get the watch here and the money with you."

He had to understand I could not come to Beirut with a big pile of cash for someone I don't know, I can't verify, and only has a private Instagram account with zero posts and barely any followers. On the other hand, Collectors Gallery is a worldwide reputable, well-known dealer, and we are partners with Amsterdam Vintage Watches.

"You can ask anybody for verification and they will tell you that we are 100%."

He had to agree on this, but he needed to think of a way because he couldn't travel himself. Up until this point I still wasn't sure whether the deal would fly.

But then, luck was on our side and all of a sudden it went very quickly. On Thursday, he texted me that a good friend of him, a watch dealer, would visit Dubai in the weekend. He could deliver the watch and receive the payment on behalf of him. In this business, sometimes things have a very long build up, but can come to a conclusion very unexpectedly and rapidly.

Two days later I met him in my boutique in the Pullman Downtown hotel in Dubai. We had a chat and I inspected the watch. Everything was perfect, so we closed the deal.

The watch

Stone dials are rare. They are more common in Day-Dates and almost always housed in yellow gold cases. To find a Datejust with a stone dial is very special. To find a Datejust with a stone dial in white gold is the cream of the crop! We though this was a Red Jasper, but after closer examination by Jasper - who is a certified gemmologist - we came to the conclusion it is a Carnelian dial, which is even rarer! The red carnelian has yellow veins, which make the dial look like a blaze of fire. Since stone dials are quite fragile, most of them have developed ruptures over the years. Very important to note is that this one is completely intact and free from cracks, hairlines or any other imperfections. The dial pops even more because it is housed in a white metal case. The condition of the case and Jubilee bracelet are not of great importance since the dial holds all value. Yet, both are fine and make this watch complete.