Geneva – To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the legendary Rolex Daytona, Christie's International Watch Department is extremely proud to announce Rolex Daytona  | Lesson ONE, its first themed sale in over a decade, dedicated to the history of the most mythical chronograph wristwatch ever made: the Daytona.

 Aiming to narrate the history of half a century of evolution of the Rolex Daytona, Christie’s has selected 50 emblematic examples to be offered in a special evening auction which will be held on 10 November 2013 in Geneva.

 With estimates ranging from $10,000 to $300,000, many of these models are coming to the market for the very first time to form what, without a doubt, can be considered the finest group of Rolex Daytona wristwatches ever seen at auction.

 Amongst the highlights are some of the rarest Daytona models ever produced. In some instances, the total production was less than ten examples. This auction also includes a number of highly interesting examples of the Daytona, once worn by the following celebrities: from the world of film and music, legendary Jean-Paul Belmondo and "slow-hand" Eric Clapton; from the world of science and exploration, Walt Cunningham, the celebrated Apollo 7 astronaut and Janusz Kurbiel, the famous polar explorer. Lastly, from the world of car racing, this auction features the Rolex awarded Daytonas worn by champions Bobby Unser and David Brabham.

 Aurel Bacs, International Head of Christie's Watch Department: “Rolex Daytona  | Lesson ONE constitutes a unique opportunity for novices and experienced collectors alike to discover and learn about one of the most famous wristwatches in the world. For me and my team of specialists around the world, it has been an eye-opening experience which has further strengthened our passion for this landmark model. The collaboration with the world’s leading scholar in the field, Mr. Pucci Papaleo, was not only a privilege but also a humbling process, and let us come upon a number of previously unknown details of the mythic Rolex Daytona chronograph, hence we felt it appropriate to name this auction ‘Lesson One’”.

 For this unique landmark auction, Christie’s specialists worked closely with Pucci Papaleo, the undisputed, leading authority in the field of Rolex Daytona, who has achieved worldwide recognition as the author of several horological publications and the most complete book ever dedicated to Rolex Daytona. Together, Christie’s and Mr. Papaleo travelled the world and located in the most distinguished and most private watch collections, precisely 50 examples of this legendary sports watch by taking the most radical approach ever; only watches in mint or close to mint condition were accepted, making impeccable quality and originality paramount.

 Pucci Papaleo, Co-Curator of the sale and leading scholar in the field of Rolex Daytona: ‘My collaboration with Christie’s and more precisely with Aurel Bacs, occurred very naturally as we have been friends for many years and share a mutual love and understanding for all watch-making. Neither of us like to compromise or be affected by illusions and speculations. If we have a single doubt on a watch, we prefer losing the piece altogether, even if this means losing at a financial cost. On one hand, this has made the phase of selecting the lots extremely difficult, but on another hand, this has allowed us to remain in agreement when finding pieces of absolute originality and quality. This resulted in the stunning selection of 50 of the indisputably highest level of Rolex Daytona watches ever to be presented at auction’.



 The Rolex Daytona was introduced in 1963 as the logical heir to the chronograph making brand. This model was a revolution as it was the first chronograph made by Rolex in which the tachymeter scale was no longer printed on the dial but featured instead on the bezel, enhancing practicability and readability. Since its creation, the Rolex Daytona has seen a continuous development without ever losing its original spirit and over the last century, it has been produced in a number of case materials ranging from steel to gold, but also in platinum since 2013, all the while enjoying an impressive variety of dial designs and technical upgrades.

This auction will present the first ever 1963 model. Not yet named Daytona, but simply ‘Cosmograph’ this watch was exclusively cased in stainless steel and nicknamed as the ‘Double Swiss Underlined’ and was originally released in the US market only (estimate: SFr.40,000-80,000 / US$40,000-80,000).



The top lot of the sale is a spectacular and previously unseen at auction mint example made in 1974 for Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said of Oman, which features his red signature and has subsequently been nicknamed ‘Arabian Night’ (estimate: SFr.300,000-500,000 / US$300,000-500,000, illustrated right).

 The unmistakable design and the practical aspect of the Rolex Daytona has also been appreciated by armed forces around the world and an extremely small number of watches have been finished according to the specific requests of certain military forces. Such examples are hyper-rare and Christie’s is proud to offer a watch issued in 1975 for Fuerza Aerea del Perù, the Peruvian Air Force (estimate: SFr.20,000-40,000 / US$20,000-40,000).



 Originally a sports watch, the Daytona’s predominant case material was stainless steel. Gold variations were also made, but in some very rare instances, as of the 1980s, jeweled examples were made available for a demanding clientele.

The most noteworthy examples of the latter category are certainly the ‘Jack of Diamonds’, a yellow gold example with diamond bezel and pave-set diamond dial (estimate: SFr.180,000-360,000 / US$180,000-360,000; illustrated left), as well as the famous and daring white gold, diamond and sapphire-set ‘White Rainbow’, which is one of the rarest and difficult to find Daytonas of recent production (estimate: SFr.50,000-100,000 / US$50,000-100,000).  




Christie's is particularly excited to have secured the consignment of over ten examples, in both stainless steel and yellow gold of the ultra-sought-after ‘Paul Newman’ version, which was named after the world famous actor who was seen wearing such a model around his wrist throughout the 1970s. Paul Newman was also known to be a passionate car racer and formed part of the winning team of the Rolex 24 at Daytona car race in 1995. The ‘Paul Newman’ group includes the highly attractive ‘John Player Special’ Paul Newman, a 14K gold chronograph wristwatch with black dial and gold bracelet, ref. 6241, manufactured by Rolex in 1969 (estimate: SFr.80,000-160,000 / US$80,000-160,000).



 Amongst the selection of celebrity-owned highlights is an important stainless steel Rolex Daytona chronograph wristwatch, ref. 6263, made in 1971, formerly the property of legendary French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo (estimate: SFr.60,000-120,000 / US$60,000-120,000; illustrated right).

The actor enjoyed wearing this very example in his everyday life as well as on the set of many films, such as in “Peur Sur la Ville” -a 1975 French crime film directed by Henri Verneuil (the very watch is featured in the film poster).


Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues, Geneva  

10 November 2013, at 8pm


Ahead of the Geneva evening sale, Christie’s will undertake an international tour of a selection of watches from Rolex Daytona  | Lesson ONE to a number of global capitals including Tokyo, Taiwan, Paris, Hong Kong and Dubai. On the occasion of these exhibitions a series of lectures and panel discussions will also be held.


Each watch from Rolex Daytona  | Lesson ONE comes accompanied by a uniquely designed collector’s case created exclusively for this event which will contain the small version of Ultimate Rolex Daytona - Mr. Papaleo’s most desired publication, a compartment for the watch itself as well as a miniature version of the sale’s catalogue. Each case has been specially built for each watch and numbered accordingly. Mr. Papaleo and Christie’s have agreed to destroy the construction plan and tools of this unique watch case, which will never again be available.


Notes to Editors:


Rome-born watch connoisseur, editor and collector, Pucci Papaleo is considered one of the major scholars in the field of Rolex historical chronographs, Daytona in particular.



In 2004 Mr. Papaleo edited the book Rolex Chronographs – The Legend.

Following five years of research, in 2012 he published Ultimate Rolex Daytona the only true reference for the celebrated Daytona model.

Mr. Papaleo also curated Sold!, a series of volumes dedicated to watch auctions, as well as a number of photographic books about wristwatches.

In 1996 he founded OM-Orologi & Market, the first Italian magazine entirely dedicated to the world of timepieces.

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