Horologists love getting their hands on the rarest timepiece. And one lucky collector just gained more bragging rights after scooping up a super rare 1969 Rolex Daytona John Player reference 6264 in 18k gold at a Sotheby’s auction for a record-breaking $1.5 million.
The watch, which sold in a single-lot online sale in London last week, was only produced from the late 1960s to the early 1970s, already making it a rarity. Even fewer were outfitted with the black and gold Paul Newman dial honoring the legendary Formula 1 driver. On top of that, most were stainless steel, while this one was made with yellow gold.
“An 18k yellow gold 6264 is a true rarity, of which only ten examples are known. The appearance of such a specimen on the international market is an important and exciting event by the connoisseurs’ community,” reads the description.
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Not surprisingly, the timepiece was a hot item and attracted five bidders who placed 17 bids in total. But even the auction house didn’t realize just how much attention it would get. The result was a sale price way over the estimate of $400,000–$800,000, setting the record for the most ever paid for a wristwatch in the United Kingdom and any Daytona JPS ever. It also broke the auction house’s record price for a watch sold in an online auction.
“While terms such as “iconic,” “ultimate,” or “holy grail” are today hackneyed, they are euphemisms for such an important and attractive piece,” read the description. “They represent the ultimate achievement in the quest of the vintage Rolex Daytona watches.”
Sotheby’s has had incredible success in its watch division this year, even amid the coronavirus pandemic. Weekly watch auctions have brought in a total of $48 million.
“In a year that has seen so many successes…many myths have been debunked, in particular, the assumption that historic timepieces won’t sell well online,” Daryn Schnipper, worldwide chairman of Sotheby’s international watch division, said in a statement. “It’s been fascinating to see antique pieces generating so much passion online and on social media—further proof that historic timepieces are so relevant today. They transcend the function of mere timekeeping to tell us the history of the modern world.”