What Makes a Watch Collectable?
The vintage watch market got rocked last year when Paul Newman’s Daytona sold for a record $17.75m. The reason why it achieved such a feat lies in the three key areas.
Condition, Provenance and Rarity are the areas that vintage watch buyers focus on when looking at a watch. Why? They tell a story that not many watch owners can boast. They were on the wrist of champions, royalty or even film stars and finally, no one knew it existed.
Rolex watches are lighting auctions up and here’s the story behind 5 of their biggest sales.
5) Rolex Anti-Magnetique Ref. 4113
Despite being created in 1942, this Rolex was given an estimate of CHF 800,000 – 1,600,000.
Surpassing that in spectacular fashion by selling for CHF 2.405m, you’ll see that this watch is encased in stainless steel as opposed to more valuable precious metals such as gold.
Trivia – The watch was sold in 2013 for a then-record $1,161,436.
With an imposing 44mm dial, rose-gold Arabic numerals and a manually wound movement, this chronograph is extremely rare and is thought to be one of 12 ever produced in the 40s. However, only 8 have ever been found!
The rarity of this watch was illustrated further when it wasn’t even available to the public. Instead, it was gifted to racing teams and/or drivers. A notable owner was Ettore Bugatti, the founder of Bugatti.
4) Rolex Paul Newman ‘The Legend’ Daytona Ref. 6263
This watch was created in 1969 and sold at auction in 2017 for $4.18m.
At the beginning of the article, you learned that provenance and rarity were some of the key factors a vintage watch buyer would consider.
In regard to its rarity, this watch is one of three examples known to exist. How? it's in 18K yellow gold and has a lemon grené dial.
In addition, the provenance is also strong.
Paul Newman was an iconic American actor who made the Rolex Daytona an essential timepiece and Rolex responded by creating a dial after him.
A distinguishable aspect of a Newman Daytona and an ordinary one lies in the far left subdial. You can see that a Newman Daytona subdial has 15, 30, 45 and 60 instead of the traditional 20, 40 and 60.
3) Rolex "Bao Dai" Ref. 6062
It’s not often that an Emperor’s watch comes into an auction. That was the case when the Rolex ‘Bao Dai’ hammered in for over $5m in 2017.
Whilst Bao Dai was in Geneva to sign the Geneva Accord, he wandered into a Rolex Dealer and simply asked for the rarest and most precious Rolex ever made.
Despite the fact that it’s in yellow gold, has a black dial, only one made, has a few diamonds and contains a triple moon phase, it’s the name which helped the watch sail past its estimate.
Growing up, he spent a lot of his childhood in France and only returned to his homeland to rule at the age of 18.
Bao Dai became the emperor of Vietnam in 1926 but abdicated in 1945. This ended a 13-generation and 143-year rule for the Nguyen dynasty.
Trivia - After Bao Dai abdicated, he became the Head of State for Vietnam but was removed in a controversial referendum in 1955.
He returned to France in the mid-’50s and lived a hedonistic lifestyle until his death in 1997.
Trivia – The watch was bought for $235,000 in 2002!
2) White Gold Rolex 'Unicorn' Daytona Ref. 6265
Another rare watch. Rolex aficionados will know that a Rolex Daytona in 18k White Gold is rare. Why? The choice of metals was stainless steel and yellow gold back in the ’70s.
Due to the fact it was sold through a retailer in Germany in 1971, it’s believed this watch was a bespoke order.
The design of the watch can suggest this thanks to its metal bezel, sigma dial, white gold markers and manually wound movement. These characteristics culminated in it being called 'The Unicorn'.
This Daytona was given a $3m estimate and eventually sold for $5.9m in 2018 and dispossessed the Bao Dai to become the second most expensive Rolex sold.
This watch was so far off the radar, it was only heard of in 2013 when it was acquired by John Goldberger.
All proceeds went to the charity, Children Action.
1) Paul Newman's Rolex Daytona
Apparently, this happened in 12 minutes! $17.75m was the winning bid in an astounding auction which featured Paul Newman’s very own Rolex Daytona.
What made this watch sentimental was the inscription on the back which said ‘Drive Carefully’ - a gift from Newman’s wife. She bought him the watch in 1968 whilst he was filming ‘Winning’.
Newman would wear the watch for 15 years before giving it to his daughter’s then-boyfriend, James Cox.
Trivia - It’s said that the bidding was opened at $1m before a $10m bid came out of nowhere and got people ready to stand on their feet.
As for Newman, he competed in iconic races such as Le Mans in 1979 and the 24 Hours of Daytona where he won his class. #winning.
Each watch has their own story and these 5 are worth celebrating.
Condition, Provenance and Rarity continue to be the deciding factors for watch collectors - and it’s created a rule of thumb for determining the investment potential of certain watches.
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