M/S ROLEX produced 8171 in 1949 to 1952 with a production nos. of 1,000 pieces in mostly yellow gold and a small quantity in Pink gold and steel.
As ref. 8171 is a snap back, it is not water-proof and many complaints were received for moisture issues.
M/S Rolex later on in 1953 replaced it with another moonphase, ref. 6062 with a screw back and it was supposed to be water proofed as expected of all Oyster models.
In reality, ref. 8171, though rarer, has always played second fiddle to ref. 6062 . In recent years, collectors have started to realise its importance and are snapping up this model as they appeared at auctions.
At recent May 2012, Christie's auction in Geneve, a prestine example overtook the benchmark price realised on ref. 6062 and it was sold at CHF 543,000.
The popurality could be due to the bigger 38mm size of ref. 8171 that goes very well with the current trend of big watches.
Problem with steel Rolex watches is that when rust settles in, it goes deep and worse over time.
Most steel ref. 8171, I have seen over the last 25 years, have corroded cases wih refinished dial as moisture tends to have seeped into the watch, thru the upper bezel, winding crown, pushers and the snap back.
The case nos. on the back of this watch is clear but the lower part of engraved crown has been partly polished off but still visible and beside this, I would rate it at 90% condition as there is total absence of corossion and both upper bezel and back case snap crisply tight.
THE DIAL IS ORIGINAL as the watch was purchased and stayed in the 1st owner family till it was sold at Sotheby's auction.
All functions are operating crisply and it is keeping good time despite its vintage of 60 years.
Dial is original with a beautiful charm of warm patina. Upon close examination, I believe in the past, there were some cleaning done and minor touch up.
A very nice vintage Rolex Moonphase to pair my Oyster Moonphase, ref. 6062.
It brings much joy and pride to me that there are 2 ultimate Vintage Rolex watches in my collection and both keeping excellent time despite their vintage.
The ref. 8171 sold at Christie's auction, according to the case no. it was made in in 1955, 3 years after the production of ref. 8171 was supposedly stopped, and the hands were not of the typical leave design of 8171 but belong to later Rolex models.
This to me is not a surprise as MS Rolex in its earlier days was said to have assembled movements left from earlier production models into steel cases but to people who are not familiar with Rolex watches, it has many times created confusion.
AN OLD BIG CROWN 18K WHITE GOLD ROLEX BRACELET IS ATTACHED.