We’ve seen it on The Weeknd, but the Rolex King Midas has much more “ancient” origins, with a common trait with the Nautilus and Royal Oak.
The history of the Rolex King Midas
When the watch becomes legend, it doesn’t take much to describe it. You want to know exactly how much?
Well… Five letters are enough.
Rolex… Five! Genta… Five! Midas… five!
The year was 1964 and Rolex was in the midst of a transformation that will affect the lives of us all: from the manufacturer that made technical tools for the most extreme sports, Rolex timepieces began to appear on the most illustrious and famous wrists in the world.
Whether it’s Submariner, the James Bond’s watch, or Day-Date, the “President”, Rolex is on everyone’s lips and on the wrist of an ever-growing audience.
Yet, in that year, there is a model that almost no one talks about. And that’s exactly what Rolex wanted: we’re referring to the King Midas ref. 9360, produced in only a thousand pieces, each made from a solid gold bar.
A watch that was never intended for the general public, but for the most selected elite, able to appreciate what was then the heaviest and most expensive gold watch in the world, drawn from the pen of the watch designer destined to become the King of the industry. Exactly, we’re talking about Gerald Genta.
The classic Rolex features we all love? You won’t find the iconic Jubilee bracelet, no cyclops lens or twin-lock crown. That this is not the classic Rolex born for the general public seems clear enough.
“Acquired taste” some say, something that must be refined over time.
Lying on the side of its asymmetrical case, we notice how the design recalls the architectural silhouette of the Parthenon of Athens, with the bracelet recalling the large columns.
The crown, unique to this model, wants to symbolize the sun that dominates the top of the Olympus, home of the Greek deities.
Surrounding the crown, the engraving “KING MIDAS”.
The choice of this curious shape is not accidental: according to legend, Midas, the mythical King of Phrygia, obtained from Dionysius the gift of turning everything he touched with his left hand into gold. Hence the choice to create a watch to be worn on the right wrist, with the crown therefore on the left, in honor of the myth.
Notable the weight, between 150 and 200 grams depending on the edition (in addition to the King for men, the Queen was available for ladies and the Princess for even thinner wrists), for its relatively small size. For the Rolex King Midas, the maximum point of the case was 27.5 mm for just 5 mm thick.
This thinness is due to the caliber 650: 18 rubies, rhodium-plated, with manual wind.
No complications: in addition to the logo and hours’ and minutes’ hands, on the dial we find only the Greek inscription “ΜΙΔAΣ”, “Midas”, all protected by the innovative sapphire glass. A not-so-strange choice for the King of the Rolex list.
Initially born as an independent line, the Midas then had a decent spread.
This led to the decision to re-propose a limited number of specimens in the 1970s under reference 3580.
Subsequently, the Rolex King Midas lines will be used for some Cellini line models, with special shaped leather straps or pattern case works.
If Day-Date is the president’s watch, the King Midas is the Kings’.
And in the 1960s, the King was just one: Elvis Presley.
A lover of extravagance and excess, what better gift than a Rolex King Midas could the organizers of “The Houston Livestock Show” choose to pay homage to the King of Rock & Roll after six sell-out nights in a row in 1970?
Number 313, Elvis was very happy with the gift, so much so that we can find several photos of him wearing the Midas.
It’s been said that he did not even take it off for a bath and we easily believe it, given the oxidation on the dial (the case is not Oyster and the crystal is not sealed).
For those curious to see this royal gem live, you can find it on display in Graceland at Memphis, Tennessee, as part of the collection of Elvis-owned items.
Another behemoth to wear a Rolex King Midas was the legendary John Wayne, nicknamed “the Duke” of the silver screen.
There is not much information about his specific specimen, always worn discreetly – however discreet a Midas may be – but we know it is the number 557.
Sold during an auction of private items that belonged to John Wayne in 2011, it sold for a price of 26.290$.
The Rolex King Midas today
Throughout history, the Rolex King Midas has always maintained the profile that Rolex wanted: a very niche watch, appreciated only by the most refined and eclectic wrists.
This has allowed the market not to soar towards excessively high figures, so much so that today an actual Rolex King Midas can be found (after a bit of research) for prices ranging between 9.000 and 12.000 € depending on conditions and set.
If you look for the King Midas’ shape in a Rolex Cellini model, prices are around 3.500 €.
In conclusion, the Rolex King Midas is definitely not a watch for everyone. It is a symbol of exaggeration, eclecticism, uniqueness… but without necessarily sacrificing sobriety and discretion, in its own way.
It may not be an everyday watch, but to us, it is undoubtedly a piece of history worthy of a place of honor in the most refined and exuberant collections. And who knows, perhaps it is destined to become a great classic in the future.
What do you think? Did you already know the Rolex King Midas ’ history? Would you buy it?
Let us know your opinions in the comments!
Cover image credits: Bob’s Watches