The Multi-Million Dollar Rolex

Check your wrists-

Saturday’s chrono-only “Start-Stop-Reset” auction held in Geneva saw the hammer drop on a sale price of just over $2M USD for a 1969 “Paul Newman” ‘Sotto’ Rolex Daytona.

The iconic hand wound Daytona made famous by actor Paul Newman has often been a holy grail for any watch enthusiast and collector alike. Prices have crept up sharply in recent years fueled by internet hysteria and speculation that these rare watches will make great blue chip investments.


paul newman rolex daytona 6263 chronograph watch

The highly desirable Paul Newman ‘Sotto’ Rolex Daytona 6263 fetched $2.03M USD at auction.

The vintage Daytona bubble seemed to reach its fever-pitch with a realized final price of CHF1.98M or $2.03M USD. The piece in question is a gorgeous, drool inducing, black dial turned tropical chocolaty brown, 17 jewel, hand wound, 1969, 6263 Rolex Daytona with the famous Paul Newman dial. With its blood red “DAYTONA” across the dial, art deco sub dials, square hour markers and the red and white outer dial track, it’s immediately obvious why this is a very unique and highly desired centerpiece to any serious collector.

The “sotto” nickname literally translated from Italian means “underneath” as the word “Oyster” appears below the “Cosmograph” line of text. These “sotto” dials are important as they represent the first Daytona dials to be in Oyster cases, those with the screw down pushers that offered greater water resistance. This “sotto” dial configuration seems to be quite rare indeed, being 1 of only 2 known to exist. The serial number on this watch is reportedly in the two million range.


That is just 1 of 4 other vintage Rolex chronograph’s that ended up going for well over the MILLION dollar mark. The other chronograph’s include one of Rolex’s first time recorders and only 1 of 12 made (3 can not be accounted for, so check grandpa’s sock drawer).

Another record setting piece is this

1942, 4113 split seconds “Antimagnetique” manual wind chronograph with a base 1000 telemeter scale and a 3 push button operation. This piece was never available to the public but offered exclusively to a select group of racing teams and their drivers. The 4113 also represents the largest case any Rolex has ever had at 44mm (Deepsea Challenger aside), the watch is presented on an original beautiful leather strap. Combine all these circumstances and you get the most expensive watch sold at this auction for a record setting price of $2.46M USD.



The $2.46M, 1942, Rolex 4113 Antimagnetique Telemeter Chronograph.


This 1966 “Doctors” Daytona saw a hammer price of $1.13M USD. Fitted with an exclusive and unique silver sunburst dial and a blue pulsation scale on the outer edge.

rolex-daytona-6239-doctor-pulsations calculator watch chronograph

The rare 1966, ref.6239 “Doctor” Daytona. Featuring a unique dial for calculating heart rate.

The nick name “the Doctor’s Daytona” was given to this piece because it was designed for a medical professional who would start the watches chronograph and then count the predetermined base amount of heartbeats, in this case 15 beats as indicated on the dial. The doctor would stop the timer after counting 15 beats then read the stopped chronographs hand position on the pulsation scale indicating the patients number of heart beats per minute. The dial on this Daytona wasn’t simply a modified after thought with a blue pulsation scale printed on it but a truly different dial custom made consisting of hour markers and dial print in different positions than what is seen on the typical 6263 Daytona. This Daytona was originally custom ordered making it truly a rare watch that you will probably never actually see in the wild.


Other vintage Daytonas that sold include this gorgeous all original tropical Paul Newman “Mark IIpanda dial that went for $965K USD.


Classic good looks of the Paul Newman Rolex Daytona Mark II Panda dial showing great caramel patina and beautiful dial fonts.


Some crazy figures are being associated with some heavy iconic grail pieces these days, and have been paramount in cementing the Paul Newman Rolex Daytona as the hottest vintage watch in the world. Ironic, since it wasn’t a popular watch when it debuted and Rolex had to discount it heavily in order for it to sell at $210 +tax.

Of all the Daytona lots sold on Saturday only two failed to command a six figure outcome. Who knows where the price insanity will stop, but the sky doesn’t seem to be the limit. It doesn’t help when the auction house dubs these fantastic sports watches as “the ultimate trophy”.


to browse all of the lots from Saturday’s “Start-Stop-Reset” auction in their entirety click here

Steven Michaels