The winning bidder forked out a total of £31,900 for the Oyster Perpetual Explorer bracelet after a price war started for the 1954 timepiece on Tuesday afternoon, said auctioneers Fellows.
The stainless steel watch, with a black dial, engraved case back, and distinctive three, six and nine Arabic numerals sold for a hammer price of £25,000, with the rest coming from fees.
It had an estimate of £4,800 to £5,800.
Fellows watch specialist Steven Yambo said: “This Explorer is an incredibly early model with a lovely aged dial, so it isn’t a surprise that it sold for this amount.”
The model, reference 6150, was popular with serious mountaineers after a prototype was successfully used in the first ascent of Everest to see how it would cope with extreme altitudes, temperatures, and pressure.
In 1953, the Swiss luxury watchmaker sponsored the daring bid of Sir Edmund Hillary and sherpa Tenzing Norgay to become the first men to reach the summit, with Sir Edmund wearing an early version of the Oyster Perpetual.
A Rolex advert at the time reads: “The Rolex Oyster Perpetual that accompanied the victorious British Everest Expedition.
“Waterproof, self-winding and a miracle of accuracy, this watch is the highest achievement of the watchmaking industry.”
The word “Explorer” was added to the watch range after the successful 1953 climb.