There are some who question whether there is such a watch called Rolex 81806 Moonphase chronograph. From the net and auction sites, I can find the following records. Produced in 12 examples only, in the 1950's. A simIlar watch is published in 'A time to watch' by J. Zagoory and H. Chan, page 141. On the other hand, there are web discussion who has said that there is no such model.
For me, whether Rolex ever produces such a watch is not important as I am not a dealer. Moreover, unlike Patek Philippe who has records of their past watches, Rolex don't have a clear record of their history and is not interested in repairing and servicing of their vintage watches. Moreover, many of their service centers have poor knowledge of their vintage collection.
For me, the 81806 watch is an interesting watch as it represents a high level of complications (during the 1950s) even though it may not have been produced by Rolex. It is an interesting watch as it as a chronograph function, calendars and Moonphase functions. It's a nice after dinner talking piece! After all, watch collecting is a hobby to bring fun and joy. : ) have fun!
These are my two favorite Moonphase watches, Rolex 8171 officially certified moonphase and the Patek Philippe 3940 perpetual calendar Moonphase. Previously, my favourite is the 6062 oyster Moonphase. However, owing to 38mm, larger size the 8171 has gained much popularity.
One of the ironies of collecting vintage Rolex is that the failed and unpopular models of the past become the highly collectable watches today. The 8171 was a failure in the 1950s as sales were poor and demand small. I have recently come across a nice vintage 1952 triple Calendars plus Moonphase 8171. The dial has aged evenly and has shown signs of aging, but the dial is all original. In addition, a couple of weeks back, I have seen two 8171 in a shop, one solid gold with non original dial and one steel with reconditioned dial. Given the fact that the 8171 is a non oyster watch, many of the dials are either reconditioned or aged. My preference is always on the need for original dial as the 1952 watch needs to have a 1952 dial and not a reconditioned 2011 dial. I have always dream of the 8171 and in the late 1980s, I was offered one but as a young undergraduate, I was unable to afford one. The 8171 is a Large watch at 38mm during the 1950s. In today's standard where larger watches are in the trend, the 8171 still find its relevant and is still a subject of great desire.. Luckily, life is full of hope and dream...
Collecting vintage watches can be an enjoyable hobby. However, it also means having to make sacrifices. For example, in order to collect vintage watches, I will have to forego many other things ( e.g taking bus in Hong Kong instead of getting a car to drive, no buying of fanciful clothes, no fanciful restaurants and simple dinners, etc). However, the joy of finding those precious watches are beyond words. For me, buying these vintage watches is also a form of "forced saving" as currencies tend to depreciate while vintage watches tends to appreciate in prices after several years owing to scarcity.
Very often, I do streamline my watch collection by changing the direction of collecting. One example is that I sold away my entire collection of vintage Omega (all kind of sea master, speed master, constellation, Dynamic, Omega Moonphase cosmic,) in order to focus on vintage Rolex. In addition, I have also sold away my vintage hifi gears, my vintage radio collection, and many collectables in order to collect watches.
After over 20 years of vintage watch collecting (since 1988) my watch numbers have not grown much. This is largely due to my one in one out policy. My current core collections are the Rolex bubblebacks, Prince, 6062, 8171, 6202, 5508, 1655, 1016, red 1680, gilt dial 5513, 6239, 6263, two Breguet type XX, some cloisonné dials watches, military ( jaeger lecoultre, Laco Pilot, Lemania).