Intrigued by the fact that this watch originated from Venezuela, I asked my stepfather for the story behind it, and the tale he told turned out to be more interesting than the watch itself! As he tells it, his father was the captain of a passenger-freighter steamship from the Swedish Johnson Line out of Stockholm during the 1950s. And apparently, he was quite popular with some of the female passengers. One such passenger was Kitty Van Fleet, who had married into a wealthy land-owning Venezuelan family of Dutch origin. The story goes that Kitty was having an affair with a famous doo-wop singer, and her family was so outraged at her so-called transgressions that they literally shipped her off on the Johnson Line ship. She became a regular passenger on the ship, and began an affair with the captain, who, as you might remember, was my step-grandfather. At some point, she gifted him this Rolex watch, and it eventually landed in stepfather’s drawer where it sat until this past Christmas.
The story behind a vintage watch can so often be lost to time. When I told my stepfather that this Rolex originated from Venezuela, the tale of Kitty immediately came back to him. And, as cool as this watch is by itself, the story of international romance on the seas in the 1950s just brings it to life. This is a perfect example of why I love collecting vintage watches.During my research, I found the story of Rolex and Serpico Y Laino nicely detailed in this post on Rolex Passion Report. I also reached out to the owner of HQ Milton, one of most respected online Rolex dealers (@HQMilton) to see if he could enlighten me further. He indicated that while the Serpico Y Laino co-branded dials are similar in nature to the Tiffany & Co ones, Serpico Y Laino was a much smaller company than Tiffany and stopped production fairly early, making the Serpico Y Laino dials the scarcer of the two. Having a Serpico Y Laino co-branded dial generally adds about three-times the value of the standard version to a given watch.
Poking around the Net I was able to find plenty of examples of co-branded dials, but not a single 6634 with the Serpico Y Laino dial. A normal 6634 seems to go for around $1500-$2500 depending on condition and seller. This one would go for much more. But to me, the value is immeasurable.