The Khanjar Legacy: The Late Sultan Of Oman’s Love Of Horology

When the world lost the late Sultan of Oman, Qaboos Bin Said, in January of 2020, it lost not only a celebrated leader, but also one of the world’s greatest watch collectors. In fact, it’s fair to say that the Sultan’s love of timepieces was delicately intertwined with his political legacy. In the wake of his rule remains a highly sought after, and difficult to obtain number of Rolex watches, decorated with a very special coat of arms. These prized timepieces were never available for sale, and were given as gifts by the Sultan to dignitaries and valued acquaintances – a unique provenance indeed.

Mutrah, Muscat, Oman

The Khanjar Coat Of Arms

The Sultan’s obituary in the New York Times shared: “The death of Qaboos may mark more than the passing of one of the Middle East’s most resilient leaders. It may also herald the eclipse of a kind of discreet diplomacy that for years helped defuse some of the region’s most intractable conflicts.” By all accounts, the Sultan’s enthusiasm for gifting watches was undoubtedly a facet of his diplomacy. Each bore the Omani royal crest – the Khanjar – featuring a “khanjar” dagger laid over two crossed swords.

Alongside Rolex watches, the Khanjar can also be found on Audemars Piguet, and Patek Philippe watches. The coat of arms can usually be found rendered in red, black, gold, white, or green. For an even greater delicacy in the world of horology, those that were sourced via the jeweler John Asprey in London also feature an “Asprey” engraving on the case back, making them yet more covetable as double signed timepieces.

The Rule Of Qaboos Bin Said

Although remaining socially conservative under its absolute monarchy, Oman was transformed dramatically over the 50-year-reign of Qaboos. His strategy and vision led the country in an evolution towards the modern economy it is today, thanks to investment in modernization, health, education, and welfare, and his immediate abolition of slavery upon his succession.

In the meantime, Qaboos developed his passion for collecting luxury watches of all brands, and his unique ritual of giving Rolex watches, bearing the Khanjar, as presents. With such an intriguing origin story, it is not hard to imagine why avid watch collectors are willing to pay substantial sums when such a watch becomes available at auction! As a man of no children, and in accordance with his wishes, Qaboos was succeeded by his cousin, Haitham bin Tariq.

The Gifted Khanjar Rolex

Many recipients of these scarce and desirable timepieces were found within the British Armed Forces, thanks to the Sultan’s close relationship with Great Britain. In fact, the Sultan was privately educated in England, including attendance at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Following graduation, he even served one year in Germany with the British Forces, and retained a staff appointment with the British Army for the rest of his life. This special relationship followed the support Oman received from Britain as it consolidated power in the 1950s, and assistance from SAS soldiers in quelling the Dhofar uprising in the 1970s. Although, of course, many a Khanar Rolex was enjoyed by those whose relationships with the Sultan originated elsewhere.

Rolex Datejust II Oman Watch Ref 116300 - Shoma Hamamoto
Rolex Datejust II Oman Watch Ref 116300

Early Rolex models gifted by the Sultan had the Khanjar logo printed on the dial, and a unique emblem was affixed to the watch box. The Sultan commissioned these through Asprey. Moving forwards through the Sultan’s reign, newer models had the logo engraved on the case back. These were retailed by Khimji Ramdas, an Omani Rolex retailer. Impassioned owners of the Ramdas Rolex can enjoy the discretion provided by a watch front that looks like a regular production watch, however the Khanjar engraving on the case back makes its value at least four times that of an equivalent timepiece missing the coveted coat of arms.

Rolex Datejust with the Khanjar engraving on the case back - Shoma Hamamoto
Rolex Datejust with the Khanjar engraving on the case back.

The Heritage Of A Sultan

The mythology and many nuances of the Khanjar Rolex has undoubtedly captured the hearts of watch collectors, and their rarefied nature will no doubt mean that they remain highly sought after, far into the future. Each destined recipient of these precious timepieces has surely secured themselves an exquisite piece of horological and political history!

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