Tag Archives: rolex

The Most Famous Rolex

Luxury watches are not rare.  There have been untold thousands, and perhaps millions, of them made over the past two centuries.   Some watches have unusual features, are made from precious metals, and are manufactured in such limited quantities that they sell for millions of dollars when new.

Others become rare over time and valuable over time, perhaps because of unusual provenance.

paul newman daytonaThat’s the case with a specific Rolex watch that will soon be up for auction.  In this case, the watch is a model known as the Rolex Daytona, a watch that first became available in 1963 as a racing chronograph.

The watch didn’t sell all that well, despite the fact that it was available with many different variations and dial styles.  It was a slow seller.

And then, in the early 1970s, actor Paul Newman received one as a gift from his wife, actress Joanne Woodward.  Newman liked the watch and wore it daily for a decade.  The watch became identified with him, so much so that the particular style of Rolex Daytona is now known as the “Paul Newman” Daytona.

A “Paul Newman” Daytona watch can fetch six figures when it comes up for sale, as the watch had a distinctive look and dial style that most models did not.   It’s not any more rare than many other versions of the Daytona watch, but because of the connection to the actor, the watch has taken on a life of its own.

paul newman daytonaOwning a Paul Newman Rolex Daytona is a big deal among watch collectors and Rolex fans, but here’s an even bigger deal:  Next month, the Phillips auction house is going to auction off Paul Newman’s personal “Paul Newman” Rolex Daytona.

Apparently, Newman gave the watch as a gift in 1984 to a young man who was dating Newman’s daughter.  He wore the watch for many years, but as he became aware of its potential value, he eventually put it away in a safe deposit box.

The man, James Cox, now 52, has decided that it’s time to sell.  A portion of the proceeds will go to the foundation run by Newman’s daughter, Nell.

Experts aren’t sure about the price, however, and estimates range from a low of $1 million to as much as $10 million.  That’s the problem when something as famous as Newman’s watch comes to market – you never know who is going to be among the buyers.

While there will undoubtedly be a number of well-heeled watch collectors participating in the auction, potential buyers could also include collectors of Hollywood memorabilia, as well.

The record price for a wristwatch is a bit over $11 million, realized last year for a World War II era Patek Philippe watch.  It’s quite possible that Newman’s watch could exceed that price, but to date, there are no comparable sales to suggest a price range.

Last May, an 18 karat gold “Paul Newman” Daytona sold for $3.7 million at another Phillips auction.  While that was a Paul Newman Daytona, it wasn’t the Paul Newman Daytona.

That minor distinction could be worth millions.


Rare Rolex Sells for $5 Million

rolex bao dai 5 million Five million dollars is a lot of money to spend for anything. For most people, they’d expect to get real estate for that kind of money, and probably a lot of real estate, at that.

In this case, we’re talking about $5 million spent for a single wristwatch, the so-called “Bao Dai” Rolex.  This watch bears the name of its first owner, Bao Dai, who was the last emperor of the Nguyen dynasty in Vietnam.  He purchased the watch in Paris in 1954.

Officially, the Bao Dai Rolex is a Rolex Reference 6062.  The timepiece features a gold case with a black face, and is one of only three such models sold.  Making this one unique is that it’s the only one of the three that had diamond markers on the even numbers around the face.  The watch is a certified chronometer with a sweep second hand, a moon phase indicator, and a display that shows both the day of the week and the month of the year.

The $5 million is the most money ever paid at auction for a Rolex, and this isn’t the first time that this particular watch has held the title.  It previously sold in 2002 for a then-record $369,000.

While watch collectors seek out pieces that are unusually rare or which have unusual features, they’re also attracted to models that have unusual provenance.  Watches with famous previous owners usually fit into that category, and this one is no exception.

This sale continues the trend of unusually high priced watches selling well in a market that is slowly growing a bit stagnant.  That’s not to say that the market is sluggish, but it’s sluggish in the mid-to-somewhat-high-priced range.  It’s not stagnant in the upper end of the spectrum, as the people who would buy such pieces have finances that are likely to remain stable over time.

Watches like this one also rarely come to market, so the opportunity to buy them is equally rare.  In those case, buyers always seem to find the money to pay for them.

While a number of bidders were at the auction to bid in person, the ultimate bid was placed over the phone by a buyer whose name remains a mystery.

Though the $5 million price is a record for a Rolex, it is not a record for the most expensive watch ever sold at auction.  That belongs to a Patek Philippe Reference 1518 that sold for more than $11 million in 2016.

That’s a lot of money for anything, even for a one of a kind Rolex.