10 most expensive Vintage Rolex ever sold

In October 2017, the most expensive Vintage Rolex watch in the history of the brand was sold under the hammer at the Phillips auction in New York. An overview of all the models that are included in the top 10 most expensive Rolex watches.

10 . Rolex Oyster Perpetual Ref. 6062 Stelline

In 10th place on the list of the most expensive Rolex models, there is an incredibly rare wristwatch with a triple calendar and a moon phase indicator. They were produced from 1950 to 1953 and became one of three models in the entire history of Rolex, which are equipped with a lunar cycle indicator. This rose gold case was most likely released in 1952. The watch belonged to renowned collector Gordon Bethune, who was CEO of Continental Airlines (the fourth largest US airline) from 1994 to 2004. The watch received the nickname “Stelline”, which means “asterisk” in Italian for the original hour markers in the form of stars. On November 10, 2019, at the Phillips auction in Geneva, the model was sold for CHF 1,940,000.

9. Rolex Ref. 4113

10 most expensive Rolex

Whenever the split-chronograph Rolex Ref. 4113 pops up at auctions, it invariably becomes a sensation. Still would. The only split-chronograph in the entire history of the brand, released in a limited edition (12 pieces), and even in a 44 mm format completely uncharacteristic for the 40s. At the Phillips Geneva auction in November 2019, a model with the serial number 051’318 was put up for sale, which appeared in hourly auctions twice: in 1991 and 2011. In 2011, the watch set a record, going under the hammer for CHF 1,035,000. In November 2019, the total cost of the model was CHF 1,940,000.

8. Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Paul Newman “Oyster Sotto” ref. 6263 (Tropical Dial)

The Cosmograph Daytona “Paul Newman Oyster Sotto” ref 6263 is one of two Cosmograph watches with this design option. Translated from Italian, the word “Sotto” used in the name of the watch means “bottom, bottom, bottom”. The watch received such a nickname for the broken word order: the Oyster inscription on the dial is located not above the word Cosmograph, as usual, but below it. In other words, instead of the Oyster Cosmograph Daytona, the dial says Cosmograph Oyster Daytona. The dial of a luxurious chocolate brown gives this piece an additional appeal. Considering all of the above, as well as minimal signs of wear and a respectable age (the model was released in 1969), we can safely say that this chronograph is rightfully ranked 8th in the list of the most expensive Rolex watches sold at auction.

7. Rolex ref. 4113

Another Rolex Ref. 4113. All models of this series are presented in steel version. Model cases have serial numbers from 051’313 to 051’324. The described specimen with the serial number 051’314 was exhibited twice at auctions, first at the New York session of Christie’s in 1996, then at the Geneva auction of the same auction house in 2013.

10 most expensive Rolex

Interestingly, Rolex never made this model available for sale. In the middle of the last century, the company was an active sponsor of racing competitions, and only members of a narrow circle of racers from among the teams sponsored by the brand could become potential owners of these watches.

10 most expensive Rolex

The third appearance of this instance at the auction took place in May 2016 at the Philipps session in Geneva, where the watch was presented in almost perfect condition. The subtle patina of the dial is marked with gold-plated Arabic numerals alternating with austere hour-markers. The gentlemanly slender body retains the original satin finish on the entire side and back. The mirror-polished bezel contrasts beautifully with the matte side bezels. The watch, which showed no visible signs of corrosion or restoration at the time of the auction, was sold for CHF 2,405,000.

6. Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 6240 The Neanderthal

10 most expensive Rolex

Ref. 6240 The Neanderthal is interesting in that it became the predecessor of the famous Paul Newman Daytona. First released in 1965, this watch was offered exclusively with a steel case and was equipped with an acrylic bezel with a tachymeter scale. From reference 6240, the Daytona models used screw-down buttons to increase the water resistance of the case. The watch was nicknamed “Neanderthal” for the large counters unusual for Daytona and the absence of any identifying inscriptions, except for the “crowned” Rolex logo. In May 2018, at the Phillips Daytona Ultimatum auction, the model went under the hammer for CHF 3,012,500.

5. Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 16516 with Zenith movement

10 most expensive Rolex

In the middle of the list of the most expensive Rolex models is the Daytona watch with a 40 mm platinum case and a lapis lazuli dial. This model was launched in the late 90s, while Rolex was still equipping its legendary Daytona with Zenith self-winding movements. Considering the fact that Daytona models were produced mainly in steel, white gold, yellow gold cases and in a combination of steel and gold, the platinum version with a rare lapis lazuli dial is a unique piece. In July 2020, the watch was sold for $ 3.27 million (~ CHF3,080,300) at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong.

4. Rolex Oyster Cosmograph Daytona “Paul Newman” ref. 6263 “The Legend”

This watch became one of the main sensations of the Phillips auction held in Geneva in May 2017. Oyster Cosmograph Daytona “Paul Newman” ref. 6263, known in the literature as “The Legend”, was released in 1969. The timepiece with the serial number 2’330’529 is one of the earliest Paul Newman models issued under the reference 6263. This watch is one of three famous Daytona “Paul Newman” models in a yellow gold case with screw buttons. One of the highlights of the model, which went under the hammer for CHF3,722,000, is the creamy lemon dial with white indexes.

3. Rolex Ref. 6062 “Bao Dai”

Among collectors, the Rolex Ref. The 1952 6062 Bao Dai is considered one of the brand’s most valuable models. They have a yellow gold case with a black dial. Already rare for Ref. The 6062 combination complements the unique dial design with alternating hour markers and diamond indexes. Moreover, this version of the watch is the only one of the three known, on which diamond marks are located on even hours.

The first owner of the watch was the last emperor of Vietnam Nguyen Phuc Vinh Thuy, better known as “Bao-dai”, which means “keeper of greatness. The emperor bought the watch in 1954 in Geneva, where he came to participate in a historic conference on the preservation of peace in the countries of Indochina after the Korean War.

This model first surfaced at auction in 2002, where the watch was sold for a record $ 235,000 at the time. In May 2017, at the Phillips auction, it again won the record-holder status: the watch went under the hammer for CHF 5,066,000.

2. Rolex Oyster Cosmograph Ref. 6265 “The Unicorn”

Prior to the appearance of this model at the Geneva session of Phillips, which took place on May 12, 2018, it was assumed that Ref. 6265 was offered exclusively in steel or yellow gold cases. The one-of-a-kind copy in white gold was released in 1970 and until recently belonged to the famous collector John Goldberger. It is known that the former owner of the watch took a little liberty by exchanging the original leather strap for a white gold bracelet. However, outwardly, the watch only benefited from this and, judging by the results of the auction, did not lose at all in the collection value. With a starting price of CHF 3,000,000, the watch went under the hammer for CHF 5,937,500.

1. Rolex Cosmograph Daytona “Paul Newman” ref. 6239

The still fresh record of the “imperial” Rolex was almost three times surpassed by the watch that started the wild popularity of Rolex Daytonas with the so-called “exotic” dial. In October 2017, at the first Phillups auction in New York, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona “Paul Newman” ref. 6239 was sold for $ 17,752,500. The record price tag for Rolex can be easily explained: the panda version of the Cosmograph Daytona belonged to the man in honor of whom it received its famous nickname – Paul Newman. The watch was presented to the actor by his wife, Joanne Woodward, who thus decided to celebrate her husband’s passion for car racing. The model was kept in perfect condition and was put up for auction for the first time. For more than 30 years, nothing was known about the fate of the watch: in 1984, it simply disappeared from the actor’s wrist. 

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