Long considered as one of the horological world’s crown jewels, the Rolex Daytona has more than made its mark in watch history. But for those just getting into watch collecting, one may wonder why the Daytona consistently fetches such astronomical prices at auction. In an extensive piece for Esquire, HODINKEE‘s Benjamin Clymer narrows it down to three factors: great design, brand equity and rarity. In elaborating on each point, Clymer also covers the history of the Rolex brand, and how the Paul Newman Daytona came to be the most revered of all Daytona models. Read an excerpt below, and click here for the full piece.
The “Paul Newman” Daytona, though, with its black outer track that runs around the edge of the dial and matches the subdials is perhaps the most famous high-end collectable Rolex in the world. But at the time these special “exotic dials”, featuring strange Seventies funky designs, were anything but desirable.
Countless would-be dream watches sat in shop windows for years, if not decades, totally unrecognised for the value they would soon possess. When new, the price of an Exotic Dial Daytona was the same as that of a traditional model — around £150. Ironically, because they proved hard to sell, many retailers discounted them considerably. Now, a standard pump-pusher Daytona from the Seventies is worth around £20,000. But the same watch with a Paul Newman dial is worth around £85,000.
By the same accord, a standard Seventies screw-down Daytona is now worth around £30,000, while a screw-down Paul Newman easily tops £160,000. The watch auctioned for $1m in 2013 was a reference 6263 Paul Newman Rolex, one of the rarest and most desirable configurations of a Daytona, but still nothing revolutionary from a historical or horological point of view.