While for non-Italian speakers the nickname ‘Padellone’ sounds beautiful, it is used to describe a large frying pan, and that is not something you expect in relation to one of the most beautiful watches Rolex ever made; Reference 8171. However, back when it was created, in the early 1950’s, it must have looked exactly like that, because with a diameter of 38mm it was exceptionally large for its time. It was even 2mm larger than that other full calendar Rolex, reference 6062, and its case design was also not as streamlined.
Nevertheless, Rolex put the space to very good use and created a watch that is beautifully proportioned. It has very strong, masculine, lugs, a plain bezel that is just the right width, and the most beautiful dial. By allowing generous space for the pointer date scale on the outside perimeter of the dial, the moon phase and day and month windows don’t look placed particularly close to the centre of the dial, despite the modestly sized movement that powers this watch. Being perpetual, its calibre 10 1/2 features automatic winding, with its small second’s hand running over the traditional moon phase display at six o’clock.
Rolex only made the ‘Padellone’ for a relatively short period in yellow gold, pink gold, or, like this example, in stainless steel. It is, however, not only the short production period that makes this watch so special, also the fact that Rolex made so little full calendar watches play an important role in its desirability. While reference 6062 might have the advantage of its case design, which is more in line with what people come to recognise from Rolex, reference 8171 has its size. It is large, which adds not only to its rarity but also to its wearability in these modern times, although many will not get much wrist time given their value.