This Saturday’s “Start-Stop-Reset” sale, hosted by Phillips, offers what is surely one of the most concentrated collections of rare and important Daytonas since the game-changing, November 2013, “Lesson One” sale (to see why it was game-changing, watch this video). There are 10 Daytonas in the sale, making up a bit over 10% percent of the 88 lots – not an insignificant percentage. Furthermore, the selection of Daytona is wide-ranging, and interesting. So we decided to poll some experts about what they thought this sale might mean for the Daytona market, if anything, and which lots they’re most interested in. We’ll kick it off with a quick run down from the man himself – the legendary John Goldberger.
John Goldberger, Collector & Scholar: A Quick Synopsis
I am attracted to a few Cosmograph models presented in one of the most beautiful, well designed, and beautifully photographed watch catalogs in auction history. In chronological order, I begin with the reference 6240 (lot 10). This example is a milestone in the Rolex Cosmograph history, because it is the first chronograph with waterproof screw-down pushers (patented by Rolex in 1966), and it is fitted with the original early Oyster dial with the word “Oyster” below, similar to the RCO Daytona. This is the dial that I am sure was fitted to the first Cosmograph 6240s that ever left the Geneva factory.
Next, lot 88 is one of the rarest and most unconventional Cosmographs, with its unusual dial incorporating a pulsations scale – only six examples are known from the market. This is the last chronograph model manufactured by Rolex with a rare “Medical” dial in the history of the company. Lot 63 is a nice early example of a 6239 with the cherry circular Daytona signature, seen only in the middle of the ’70s – and has since become a trademark of the Daytona, including the 2016 Basel introduction.
Lots 31 and 34, reference 6263, are the most attractive,
beautiful, and almost unique examples of this Cosmograph bunch. The
first one is a breathtaking “Paul Newman Oyster Sotto” with the dial
characterized by a homogeneous “Chocolate” brown dial. The second one
holds another stunning Paul Newman dial with an outer seconds track
toned down to a “cappuccino” shade. Both models are fitted with the very
rare Oyster folded bracelets, reference 7835, and stepped end links stamped
71N. Finally, lot 29 is an early immaculate model of the new
generation of the self-winding Daytona family, launched by Rolex in
1988, fitted with a dial with enamel-coated finishing; the result is a very
intriguing three-dimensional effect. The present watch is also
characterized by the first generation 200 graduation bezel.
Jimmy Cosmo, Collector: Lot 29 – Reference 16520
I think you are quite correct to flag this as a significant sale, based on the watches that are available. I’m not seeing this as an end-of-term report for the Daytona cycle, but a half-term indication of where we stand, and whether the Asian and general economic headwinds, combined with a steady supply of watches coming to auction, have had any impact. Clearly the tropical Oyster Sotto is the crucial piece for the general watch community to gauge this, but it’s not my highlight. That is far more humble, and I also firmly believe it’s the relative strength of the non-PN pieces that signify where the cycle stands.
Daytonas have become out of reach for many Rolex collectors recently with prices of full-set 6263s in London reaching the magical GBP 50k. Around 12 months ago these were hard to source, but cost no more than GBP 35-40k for a good example. Zenith Daytonas therefore have been thrust in the spotlight, and lot 29, with a stainless-steel porcelain dial in excellent condition, is a peach. Easily the rarest example of the porcelain family, I think this will smash the high end estimate of CHF 40k. In an ideal world I would like to have seen this with an R reg, but I know that later examples did fall into the later year, designated with an L. Accompanied with a Wempe N.Y. Certificate and with the original green Rolex sticker adorning the case back, I think this is not only a great example of a rare Zenith, but also a great investment piece for the future if that Daytona cycle is just half way. My gut feel is that this watch will hammer (excluding premium) around 75k USD.
Matthew Bain, Mega-Dealer: Lot 88 – Reference 6239 Pulsation
The most intriguing Daytona in the sale for me is lot 88, the pulsations 6239. I have seen only a few of these since 1989 – when I started – and remember one trading for $25,000 in the late 1990s, which was a lot of money back then. The blue pulsation writing against the silver dial is really attractive and unlike any other Daytona in the sale, or any Daytona in general. I love the fact that it was produced for medical professionals, and this is a really understated, but important watch. The condition of the watch looks amazing, with a sharp case and an excellent dial.
Benjamin Clymer, Founder of HODINKEE: Lot 10 – Reference 6240 Oyster Alpina
I am Daytona lover of a different sort, I guess. I think the Paul Newman is an amazing watch – in particular something like a Mark 1 Oyster – but the watch that is the most intriguing to me is one that very few people understand; lot 10, the reference 6240, with “Oyster” below. First, the 6240 is easily the most important screw-down Daytona, in the same way the 6239 Double-Swiss underline is the most important Daytona – all screw-down Daytonas exist because the 6240 exists. We know the 6240 dates to the mid 1960s, and was the first to feature “Oyster” cases, but the dials of 6240s also present some fun opportunities for study – always featuring the words “Rolex Cosmograph” and sometimes the word “Daytona” in large or small font. All 6240s are the definition of transitional watches – you see wide variations of dials on them – but the holy grail to me is the so-called “6240 Alpina, “dubbed so by Pucci in his magnum opus (and arguably the greatest watch book in history), the Ultimate Rolex Daytona.
What you have here is essentially an “RCO” dial in a non-Paul Newman format. The word “Oyster” has been added to the traditional silver dial, and “Daytona” is absent. It is suspected that these were the true prototype or test dials for the 6240, because this was the first Oyster chronograph in years. We know now that most did not leave the factory this way, but over the past few years this dial has become legendary for its importance to the world of Daytona. This lot, which is actually featured in Pucci’s book, is a nice honest example of 6240 RCO, and fits my tastes absolutely perfectly as an important, rare, early, and understated Daytona that requires a bit of an explanation.
Also, be sure to follow Arthur Touchot for auction coverage in Geneva on HODINKEE Live.