It’s no secret that Rolex has produced some of the most famous watches in the world. From the Submariner to the Day-Date to the GMT-Master, the brand has no shortage of timepieces that are well recognized by people from all over the globe. However, among these legendary models, there are some lesser-known Rolex watches tucked into the brand’s archives that are well worth another look. One in particular is the striking Rolex King Midas watch. Not only was this watch designed by the most famous watch designer in modern times, Gerald Genta, it was also worn by some incredible celebrities. Let’s find out more about the Rolex King Midas ref. 9630.
A Brief History of the Rolex King Midas 9630
Before there was the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak or the Patek Philippe Nautilus, from the mind of Gerald Genta came the Rolex King Midas watch. Based on the Greek Pantheon temple, the watch, of course, takes its name from King Midas in Greek Mythology, who had the ability to turn anything he touched into gold.
The first model within this collection was the King Midas ref. 9630, released in the late 1960s. Living up to its name, the King Midas was, in fact, the most expensive Rolex watch available during its time. Crafted from blocks of 18k gold–yellow or white–each watch weighed between 150 and 200 grams! The watch features an asymmetrical 28mm pentagon case with the winding crown positioned on the left rather than the right side. The winding crown was fashioned to look like the sun, while the words KING MIDAS are engraved into the case sides framing the sun-like crown.
Set within the case is a square dial with just a pair of center hour and minute hands, the Rolex coronet, and “Midas” written Greek letters. As with most Gerald Genta watches, the Rolex King Midas includes an integrated bracelet. This particular bracelet with horizontal grooves lends substantial weight to the watch given its 18k yellow gold construction.
The Rolex Midas ref. 9630 runs on a manual-wound movement–which is yet another unusual touch given the majority of Rolex watches are powered by perpetual (aka automatic) movements.
Celebrities That Wore the Rolex King Midas
Since the King Midas was the most expensive Rolex watch of its era, it’s no surprise that celebrities would choose to wear it. The King himself, Elvis Presley was given a yellow gold Rolex King Midas ref. 9630 after his sold-out shows at the Houston Autodrome in 1970. The watch now sits at Graceland on display for all to admire.
Another celebrity that wore the King Midas was John Wayne. In 2011, Heritage Auctions hosted the “Personal Property of John Wayne Signature Auction” with a sales total of over $5.83 million. Among the memorabilia and personal effects was John Wayne’s own Rolex King Midas watch, which sold for $26,290.
If you’re looking for a Rolex watch that’s remarkably different than other more ubiquitous models and that boasts an interesting history linked to Genta, Presley, and Wayne, then the King Midas may be just what you need to add to your collection.