Rare chance to buy a Rolex Paul Newman Daytona at Christie’s auction

With only two previous owners, the Rolex 6264 Daytona Paul Newman model is a timepiece that almost nobody knew still existed, until recently. The 18K gold wristwatch will be part of the Christie’s Important Watches auction on May 15.

What makes the Paul Newman Daytona models unique is that when they were first created in the 1960s and 1970s, the dials were considered distinctly un-Rolex: they feature art deco-style fonts, the hash marks have small squares at the end, and there is a “step” between the outer minute track and the centre of the dial. However, the exotic dials didn’t have many takers, with buyers opting for traditional Daytonas. Consequently, Rolex didn’t produce too many versions, making them all the more precious when they first gained favour with Italian collectors from the late 1980s. In fact, experts now estimate that there are more fake Paul Newman dials in the world than there are fake dials for all watches combined.

What’s also unique about this (obviously authentic) 6264 model, from circa 1970, is that both the outer minute ring and all three subsidiary dials have evenly “tropicalized”, which means the shading has transformed from black to a uniform, rich chocolate brown. The lemon dial is a rare variant of its own, because only four examples of the 18K gold reference 6264 are known to have a lemon dial with white numerals inside the subsidiary dials. And of these four, only one other example is known to be tropicalized. The watch is estimated to go under the hammer for between US$500,000 and $800,000 (up to Dh2.9 million).

This particular Important Watches auction by Christie’s will be exclusively dedicated to the Swiss luxury watchmaker, retracing its history from the 1930s to the present day. With 116 watches of 55 references, this is the largest-ever gathering of Rolex timepieces that any auction house has offered in a single day.

Some of the other models that will go under the hammer include: the earliest known “Green Khanjar” Daytona, which was presented by the Sultan of Oman to the present owner in 1974; a 14K gold chronograph with a black “John Player Special Paul Newman” dial from circa 1967; a Milgauss model from the 1950s, with sweep centre seconds and a honeycomb Oyster dial; and a Submariner model from circa 1997, created for the Comex Operation Everest experiment.

The auction takes place at the Four Seasons Hotel in Geneva on May 15. For more information, visit www.christies.com.