Over the past few years, auction prices of classic Rolex references have spread beyond the orbit to the realm of ultra-rich fiction. And with each unique or ultra-rare model that breaks previous records, the bar is raised for those who follow.
This is an exciting time to be a Rolex collector, and it is impossible to predict what the future holds. But, for now, we’ve put together a list of the most expensive Rolex watches ever sold.
Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona (17.8 million)
When Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona resurfaced in 2016 after a three-decade absence, it is fair to say that Vintage Watch World has lost its collective mind. The scale of how much he lost his mind when the hammer fell after just 12 minutes of furious bidding at Philips’ inaugural New York auction in October 2019 was revealed. At the end of a phone call, an anonymous voice became the most owned timepiece for the public in a generation, and for $ 17.7 million, this white whale from the horological world has become the most expensive Rolex ever sold.
Rolex Daytona Reference 6265 “Unicorn” ($ 5.9 million)
Rolex is a reference 6265 Rolex oyster cosmograph Daytona, and this particular timepiece is the only known example of a reference 6265 ever made of 18k white gold – making it a true ‘unicorn’.
The Reference 6265 was first made in 1970 and uses the same oyster case and screw-down chronograph pusher as the Reference 6263 – but the Reference 6265 was not made of acrylic but was fitted with a metal bezel. Vintage Rolex Daytona watches were traditionally made of either stainless steel or 18k yellow gold, and while 14k yellow gold examples were made for the North American market, this white gold reference 6265 is truly unique, and is the only known example of its kind.
1969 Paul Newman Daytona Ref. 6263 ($ 3,717,906)
When a vintage Rolex is nicknamed ‘The Legend’, you know it won’t be cheap. Then when you consider that this watch is one of only three made so far, and it is an example that battle-hard collectors describe their grille watch, you realize that a standard size check is probably big enough to fit all zeros. Will not .
Ref. 6263, including screw-down pusher and same cal. The 727 movement as Eric Clapton’s Albino – which now looks like a bargain – is topped with a great lemon green dial with a contrasting black sub-dial, complete with their Newman-esque Art Deco font. With perfect condition and an incredible rarity value, it’s easy to see why this legendary example has gained value.