Update, July 29. One of the rarest and most sought after Rolex watches is now available in a single-lot online auction that began Friday and will run till July 31. The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona JPS reference 6264 in 18k gold is being sold by Sotheby’s London. With two days left in the sale, the price is currently at $1.1 million, exceeding its $800,000 high estimate.
This watch combines two of the most in-demand features of a Rolex watch. It has the rare “Paul Newman” dial and the gold and black colors that are reminiscent of the “John Player Special” cigarette brand and more importantly the livery of the 1970s Formula 1 cars they sponsored. It remains one of the most famous design schemes in Grand Prix history.
According to Sotheby’s the watch is exceedingly rare, produced in a very small numbers over a short period of time, and seldom appear for sale.
“It is difficult to overstate the rarity of an 18k yellow gold 6264 and the fascination it rouses among vintage watch collectors. ‘Holy Grail’ and ‘icon’ are often used to describe the Daytona JPS,” says Sam Hines, worldwide head of Sotheby’s Watches. “Beyond its scarcity, the aura of the watch exudes from its outstanding beauty – the warmth and depth of the black-and-gold combination – and association with a golden era of Formula 1. It’s a dream for watch connoisseurs who are often car lovers.”
After 15 bids, the price for the watch has been driven to $1.1 million (850,000 GBP), as of as of 11 a.. EDT (July 29).
The Rolex reference 6264 is considered to be the ultimate incarnation of the pump pushers Daytona and was only produced in few numbers between the end of the 1960s and the early 1970s, Hines says.
“While most of the 6264s were produced in stainless steel, a few pieces were made in 18k yellow gold,” he says. “A fraction of these gold 6264s were fitted with the celebrated Paul Newman dial and produced in three different dial variations, simply referred to by collectors as ‘Lemon,’ ‘Champagne’ and ‘JPS.’”
The JPS model combines a yellow gold case and bracelet with a black acrylic bezel and a black dial with gold sub-registers. The initials JPS stand for “John Player Special,” the cigarette brand which is today synonymous with the legendary black and gold livery that adorned Lotus F1 cars from 1972 until 1986 and is associated with the names of great drivers, from Emerson Fittipaldi, Ronnie Peterson, Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna.
According to the lore of watch collectors and specifically those who collect Rolex watches, the company had no intention of producing a timepiece that would mimic the famous racing livery. The “JPS” nickname was given by Rolex aficionados. The rest is timepiece history.
Some of the details of the now iconic Paul Newman dial include: an acrylic domed crystal, subdials with block markers with crosshairs across each sub-dial meeting at the center, and the seconds sub-dial at 9, o’clock marked at the 15, 30, 45 and 60 positions.
As mentioned bidding has gotten off to a furious pace and it appears that the $800,000 high estimate will be easily eclipsed. Bidding is being held on Sotheby’s website, ending July 31.–Forbes