Designed by Gérald Genta: The Legendary Rolex King Midas

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Renowned watch designer Gérald Genta is celebrated for his iconic masterpieces, such as the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Patek Philippe Nautilus, and Cartier Pasha.

 
 
 
 
 
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However, few are aware that he also had a hand in designing a Rolex watch – the Rolex King Midas. This timepiece, favored by Elvis and John Wayne, offers a unique and unconventional design that sets it apart from traditional Rolex watches.

The Rolex King Midas, introduced in 1964, is rightfully named after the mythical King Midas of Greek mythology, famous for his ability to turn everything he touched into gold. Crafted from a block of 18k yellow or white gold, this timepiece featured an asymmetrical case with a thick integrated bracelet, making it the heaviest gold watch at the time, weighing between 150 and 200 grams. It was also the most expensive Rolex of its time. Engraved with the words "King" and "Midas" on the case's side, alongside a saw-toothed winding crown, it exudes its own distinctive personality.

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Taking inspiration from the Parthenon temple in Greece, the design of the Rolex King Midas is unique and captivating. By placing the watch on its side with the winding crown facing up, one can see the resemblance to the temple's roof and columns in the triangular tip and thick bracelet grooves, respectively. This design approach was characteristic of Gérald Genta, as seen in his later creations like the Royal Oak and Nautilus.

Unusually for Rolex, the King Midas was produced as a limited edition model, with engraved numbers on the back of the bracelet. The first model, ref. 9630, was limited to 1,000 pieces, followed by the ref. 3580 in the 1970s, also produced in a limited series.

In contrast to its unique case and bracelet, the dial of the Rolex King Midas is relatively simple and classic in design. The square dial features hour and minute hands, the Rolex crown, and Greek letters spelling out "MIDAS." Notably, the dial is protected by a sapphire crystal, a rarity for watches from that era.

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The King Midas watch gained legendary status as it found its way onto the wrists of some of the greatest entertainers of its time. Elvis Presley was gifted a King Midas (No. 343) after performing at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in 1970. Today, that very watch can be found on display at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. Similarly, actor John Wayne owned a Rolex King Midas (No. 557), which was sold for over three times its pre-sale estimate in 2011. The watch also made an appearance in the James Bond movie "The Man with the Golden Gun," adorning the wrist of the villain Francisco Scaramanga, played by Christopher Lee.

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The Rolex King Midas stands out as an anomaly in the Rolex collection, showcasing a distinct design that captures the imagination. Designed by a watchmaking legend and worn by legendary entertainers, the King Midas boasts a mysterious story that continues to captivate collectors and enthusiasts alike.

Rolex King Midas Price

Once launched, the King Midas Rolex cost around USD 2,500, with the increase in popularity when it was worn by Elvis Presley, in the mid-70s, a King Midas doubled its price, even reaching USD 5,500, equivalent to 38 thousand 390 current US dollars.

Despite this and the fact that there are only a thousand King Midas watches in the world, this model can be found among current collectors for approximately USD $30,000.

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