It feels like the auction action for Rolex has been a bit quiet this year, perhaps a sign that the magma-hot market for the crown is cooling now it has reached a stratospheric dome.
Sotheby’s in New York is hoping there is still an eruption to come, because it is headlining its Important Watches auction this week with two Paul Newman Daytona watches that could both hammer for over $1 million.
The June 10 sale, part of Sotheby’s Luxury Week of auctions, also has important pieces from Greubel Forsey, Audemars Piguet, and F.P. Journe, as well as exceptional vintage models by Patek Philippe and Cartier.
Rolex Paul Newman Daytona Reference 6241 ‘John Player Special’
Sotheby’s star lot is a yellow gold Rolex Paul Newman Daytona Reference 6241 ‘John Player Special’ from around 1968 with an estimate $500,000 to $1,000,000.
Fittingly aligned with Rolex’s designation of the watch as the “Official Timepiece of Pan American World Airways” which can be used by “pilots, navigators, or passengers of a small plane”, the watch was given to the original owner by his parents on June 5th, 1972, marking the earning of his pilot’s license in 1971, along with his date of graduation in 1972 – which is engraved on the gold chronograph’s caseback.
This variant of an already rare watch is characterized by the pairing of a black and gold contrasted Paul Newman dial with a yellow gold case.
With the total production of reference 6241 Daytonas amounting to roughly 3,000 examples over the course of just three years, it is estimated that only an exceedingly small fraction of these watches were both cased in gold and fitted with black Paul Newman dials, explaining the exceptional infrequency with which fresh to market examples surface.
It is even more unusual for this reference to be made in 14ct yellow gold (a change from 18ct gold bought about by higher taxes being levied on the purer gold). Fewer than 400 examples of the reference 6241 are believed to have been cased in the metal, with only a handful of 14ct gold John Player Special Daytonas having surfaced in recent years.
Rolex Reference 6239 ‘Paul Newman’ Daytona
Also from around1968 is this Rolex Reference 6239 ‘Paul Newman’ Daytona signed by Texas-based retailer Linz Brothers, which has an estimate of $300 to $500,000.
Adding to its rarity, the dial features the retailer’s backwards N Linz logo, elevating the watch from a blue-chip vintage chronograph of already extreme scarcity, to one existing in even fewer numbers, and of particular significance to American collectors and historians of Rolex retailing alike.
Other headline watches at Sotheby’s New York Important Watch auction:
Richard Mille Reference RM030 ‘Black Rose’.
A limited edition pink gold skeletonized automatic wristwatch with date and power reserve from 2013 with an estimate of $300,000 to $400,000.
F.P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance.
A platinum dual time wristwatch with power reserve indication and brass movement, circa 2002, with an estimate of $100,000 to $200,000.
Patek Philippe Platinum Ref 5711P ‘Ruby’
A platinum and ruby-set bracelet watch with date, circa 2020, estimated at $400,000 to $600,000.