In the early 20th century, the wrist watch was primarily worn as elegant jewellery. Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf imagined the wristwatch to be a more reliable timepiece rather than a mere decoration. Wilsdorf started creating watches and the public embraced the brand. Rolex was also awarded a Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision due to its quality movement and precision.
Rolex is known as the leader when it comes to innovation. The company invented and patented the world’s first self-winding mechanism with a perpetual rotor in 1931. The new technology gave birth to today’s modern automatic watch. With transcontinental flights growing extensively, Rolex created a watch that could simultaneously tell the time in different time zones, paving the way for the creation of the GMT-Master. It was highly distinguished, with a two-tone bezel, becoming the official watch of several airlines.
Rolexes also became known as the watches of achievers. From creating the first waterproof watch, the Oyster, Rolex went far beyond and started to specialise in professional watches for deep sea diving, aviation, mountain climbing and scientific exploration. In 1972, Comex divers set the world record of simulated dive of 600 meters, which still holds today.
Comex divers used Rolex Sea-Dweller during their 18-day exhibition given the extreme condition.
The brand itself reflects the success of every person who wears their watches. One of the many proud Rolex wearers is Mr Malcolm Campbell, who achieved five world speed records at the famous speedway in Daytona, Florida. The Cosmograph Daytona was inspired by and built with endurance for racing drivers.
The Cosmograph Daytona Rolex was sold at Phillips auction house in New York for US$17.8 million, making it the most expensive watch ever sold at an auction.
Paul Newman Daytona
Famous movie star and race car driver Paul Newman owned a Rolex Daytona Reference 6239 for 15 years. He was gifted the watch, valued at around just $200, by his wife. His personal watch became legendary as it was always seen with him, even on the race track. Since then, his watch was famously dubbed “Paul Newman Daytona”. The masterpiece has been eyed by many watch collectors and has become known as the Holy Grail, the “greatest watch in the world”. It is coveted memorabilia for motorsports and car racing enthusiasts and Hollywood fans.
Newman gave the watch to his daughter’s former boyfriend, James Cox, in 1984. Cox then sought the help of watch collectors and recommended Phillips execute the auction. The watch was sold for US$17.8 million, which was more than 10 times the initial sale estimate. A significant portion of the sale was allocated to the Nell Newman Foundation, which was started by Paul’s daughter.
The ‘Unicorn’ Daytona
A rare Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Reference 6265, also known as “The Unicorn”, is creating a stir at Phillips auction house as it’s the only one of its kind in the world. This vintage white-gold Rolex Cosmograph Daytona was created outside of Rolex Daytona’s standard design, which usually features stainless steel or yellow gold. According to the experts at Phillips, the watch was made upon special order and manufactured in 1970 for a German retailer. Until a decade ago, it was amongst the collection of famous vintage watch collector John Goldberger. Goldberg has penned many books, including 100 Superlative Rolex Watches.
Along with other 31 of the finest Rolex Daytonas ever made, the watch will be the headline at the ‘The Daytona Ultimatum’ in Geneva on May 12. The initial sale estimation of the watch is approximately $3.18 million, and all sale proceeds will go to Children Action in the UK.