Close up
Close up
Close up
Close up
Close up
Close up
1 / 7

Rolex Day-Date 118139 'Latin, Yellow Stella'

In 2012, upon request from Rolex, Jean Singer & Cie. - manufacturer of many Rolex dials - produced an exclusive small series of historic Stella dials. These lacquered dials were dedicated to the Board of Directors of Rolex and not for commercial purposes. By 2012, Stella dials were already a long time out of production so this special request was a nod to a bygone era ('70s, '80s and '90s) in which Rolex made colourful, lacquered dials for the Day-Date. However, the dials from this special batch were not intended for either one of these models, but for pre-1985 Rolex Daytona's. In total, Rolex made four sets of four different colors: turquoise, green, red and yellow. It was the first and only time, Rolex made Stella dials for another model!


Every year, Amsterdam Vintage Watches and Collectors Gallery organise a food trip with three of our best mutual clients. In the summer of 2022, we travelled through Scandinavia and Italy. We started in Copenhagen where we had dinner at Noma. After this, we took a private jet - no, this is not my usual method of transportation - to the Dolomites and from there we drove all the way down to Florence and Tuscany. These trips are fun and always good for business.

On our way back to Amsterdam, I decided to make a stop in Zurich. Here I met Wulf Schütz from Rare & Fine, who has become someone I work (and party) together with a lot. I met him at his office in the centre of Zurich, which is located in a beautiful, historic Swiss building that used to function as a bank. He sat in front of me with a cigarette in one hand, an espresso in the other, and some very rare watches on the table that we were talking about when suddenly the bell rang. It was a good friend of Wulf.

To err is human, to continue foolish.

The watch

I noticed that this friend, whose name I will not disclose, was wearing a very unusual watch. It was a Rolex with a white metal case and a black leather strap. Nothing unusual there. Only, it had a bright, yellow dial. This shade of yellow was not like the one in the Oyster Perpetual line, it was not a vintage 'Taxi Cab' Stella, it was a shade of yellow I had never seen before, but it was for sure a Stella dial.

Quickly, I figured it was not a reference 18039 or 18239. Stella dials were made for these two generations of Day-Dates, but from the way the lugs were polished I could see it was a more recent reference. The three of us went to a nice Italian restaurant and mid-way our dinner, frustrated because I couldn't identify the watch, I asked him about it.

Casually, he handed it over to me. To say the least, I was confused from what I saw. It was a reference 118139 - not a reference 118239 because it had a case adapted to only fit a leather strap - with a bright yellow Stella dial. The day disc read 'Jovis Dies', which is Latin for Thursday. This was the only time in my life that Latin, which I learned in grammar school, came in handy. For a single moment I was happy with my knowledge of Latin and then, I noticed the engraving on the case back that I couldn't understand. It said 'Errare humanum est, in errore perseverare stultum'. Apparently it means 'To err is human, to continue foolish'. Exactly the reason I didn't continue studying Latin.

The story

The batch of Stella Daytona dials that were mentioned earlier also included a handful of yellow Stella Day-Date dials. All made by Jean Singer & Cie. in 2012. One of these dials was gifted to a Rolex employee for his long-standing work and loyalty. This man, now retired, was responsible for managing the production of the above-mentioned dials and many other special projects. The Board of Rolex granted him one yellow Stella Day-Date dial, which he put in a reference 118139. This guy was now sitting in front of me.

The deal

He didn't want to let it go of course. He was passionate about watches, had always been treated well by Rolex and to receive such a gift felt like receiving a trophy for his long service and special contribution. However, I wouldn't be nicknamed Ramon Soprano, if I didn't know how to put someone under some mafiosi pressure. I called one of the clients we had taken on the food trip mentioned earlier (I told you this is good for business, I knew he couldn't refuse). He collects rare, white gold Day-Dates and together we made the owner of the watch an offer he couldn't refuse (I'll quit with the mafia references now).

When I informed my client about this watch, he needed it for his collection and we could make the owner an offer that blew him away. However, deals like this take time and he needed this time to overthink his future and that of his (grand)children. One month later he got back to me to tell us that he would accept our offer. In his own words, the money would provide him with a very nice retirement and inheritance for his children, and he knew the watch would end up in the hands of someone who appreciates it.