Often vintage Rolex replica watches reveal some amazing stories; this is part of their charm over brand new pieces. Whether it is a small engraving on the caseback, or an additional name on the dial, or even some surviving accessories, there are always some great discoveries to be made, often decades after the watch was first loved. And this could not be better illustrated, than by this double-signed Rolex “Bombay”. Not only does it offer a unique insight into the history of beer in Venezuela, but it also hearkens back to a time where retailers proudly featured their names on the dial – in this case the famed Venezuelan store Serpico y Laino.
You have probably already heard about Serpico y Laino in the context of collectible Rolex and Patek. It was indeed the leading watch retailer in Caracas until its closure in 1966, after forty years of activity. It was founded by an enterprising Italian, Leopoldo Serpico, who initially focused on jewelry. He then partnered with another Italian immigrant, Vicente Laino, and both decided to expand into watches. Therefore, a trip to Switzerland was organized in the early 1930s, and they eventually negotiated exclusive distribution rights in Venezuela for a little brand called Rolex. This definitely proved a wise business choice; sales increased dramatically, and other brands were soon added.
Many of the watches that they sold bore the “Serpico y Laino” line on the dial, and often an “S&L” engraving on the back. This was not a matter of ego, but of brand recognition as well. Indeed, at the time, customers were more likely to know their local retailer than a foreign brand, so having that stamp of approval could be the decisive factor to a sale. And the impressive number of Serpico-signed Patek Philippe chronographs and expensive time-only watches, like the Patek reference 2526, allows you to realize how economically prosperous Venezuela was at the time, and how successful a retailer Serpico y Laino also was. Indeed, their sales were not only about Patek; many double signed Rolexes can be found, from the functional Submariner and GMTs to more exclusive triple calendar and triple calendar moonphase pieces.
Another popular offering seem to have been the Rolex “Bombay” , in yellow and pink gold Rolex fake watches. The name might seem to indicate some connection with India, but that could not be further from the truth. Their nickname simply comes from the elaborate shape of their lugs, described as “bombé” in French (or rounded), which was then anglicized. This design was particularly appreciated in the late 1940s and through the 1950s, and Rolex offered it in many of its models.