Rolex daytona pedro reiser auctioning the rolex daytona jps important watches may 2023 2
Pedro Reiser auctioning the Rolex Daytona 'John Player Special' at the Important Watches Sale. Courtesy Sotheby's.

Sotheby’s scores new world-record for Rolex Daytona ‘John Player Special’

Eight bidders see the price for the a gold Rolex Daytona ‘JPS’ pushed to CHF 2,238,000 / $2,491,655

As the spring auction season continues to smash estimates, Sotheby’s Geneva yesterday achieved a new world record when it sold an exceptional example of a ref. 6241, yellow-gold Rolex Daytona “John Player Special” for CHF 2,238,000 / $2,491,655 (approx. £1,999,000).

Described by the auction house as the “best seen in the last 10 Years or more”, the watch also became the third most valuable Paul Newman Daytona in gold, the fourth most valuable in any metal, and the fifth most valuable manual-winding Daytona ever sold at auction.

This year celebrating its 60th anniversary, the Rolex Daytona originally confused, but now delights, collectors and enthusiasts for the variance and difference in the dials – including the exotic versions now known as “Paul Newman” Daytonas after the Hollywood actor and racecar driver who adopted the models.

Today, ‘Paul Newman’ dials are among the most in demand on the vintage market. And there is one that, thanks to it rarity, stands out as the stare of any collection it is a part of: The John Player Special.

Rolex daytona
Courtesy Sotheby’s.

The watch was named by fans because of its distinctive black and gold colouring, reminiscent of the pack colours of John Player Special cigarettes and the Team Lotus Formula 1 livery that British tobacco company John Player & Sons sponsored in the 1970s and 1980s.

The Daytona earned its moniker as a result of its black display, gold subsidiary dials, and outside rim that were reminiscent of this legendary vehicle – still one of the most recognisable Formula 1 vehicles of all time.

Only 300 of the 3,000 ref. 6241s said to have been made were housed in yellow-gold cases. And just a small percentage of these have the sought-after John Player Special dial.

Rolex daytona
Courtesy Sotheby’s.

The Sotheby’s watch attracted some fierce bidding that resulted in an eight-minute fight, with seven bidders competing for the rare JPS reference.

“When this 1969 Daytona ‘John Player Special’ reference came into my hands, I immediately knew the piece was extremely special indeed,” says Mikael Wallhagen, head of watches, Sotheby’s Geneva.

“Not only because of its sought-after reference but also because it was and still is the best example of this reference I have ever seen. A sentiment that has been echoing among watch aficionados and especially Daytona collectors everywhere it’s been shown, during its travels around our global locations, ahead of its sale today in Geneva.

“For a watch nearly 55 years old, it is in staggeringly good condition with all its parts intact and has never been serviced. It also possesses the added bonus of presenting some of the rarest design elements to be found in any JPS reference.

“This is a true Daytona unicorn and the perfect way to top our Important Watches which celebrated Daytona’s 60 years with a flurry of references from across its six decades.”

The watch had an initial estimate of CHF 600,000-1,200,000, but eventually fetched almost double that amount. Bids were global, with two online bidders, two telephone bidders, and three people in the room – including the winning collector.

Rolex daytona jps
Courtesy Sotheby’s.

The absence of an inscription on the caseback of the watch indicates that this extremely magnificent and gorgeous timepiece has never had maintenance from Rolex. The family of the original owner put it up for sale for the first time after it was said to have lain unused for the previous 50 years.

The Important Timepieces Sale is a part of Sotheby’s Luxury Week and also has an interesting online component at which concludes today. The multi-category luxury sale series also includes Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale, which will be held live tomorrow at 2pm (CEST) and the Important Jewels sale (closing on May 18).


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