Deconstructed The Rolex Daytona Reference 6265

Deconstructed: The Rolex Daytona Reference 6265

Why this vintage Rolex Daytona 'Sigma' dial chronograph continues to be such a desirable sports watch

Despite the surge of interest in vintage chronographs from more obscure and lesser-known Swiss brands over the past few years, the market for desirable variants of the great Rolex Daytona is largely unaffected, and stronger than ever before.

While this can be attributed to the enthusiasm of devoted vintage Rolex collectors and the continually declining availability of clean examples, the true reason behind the Daytona’s popularity lies in the unrivalled history and arguably perfect design of the watch itself. For decades, countless watch brands have imitated the Daytona’s iconic style, but nothing truly compares to the original.

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  • The racing connection

Named after the world-renowned race circuit in Florida, the Rolex Daytona has had a devoted following in the world of racing over the years, thanks to its sponsorship of events such as the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans. The prize for winning both of these endurance races is, of course, a brand new Rolex Daytona.

The Daytona’s synonymy with motorsports has been further cemented by its association with the actor Paul Newman, who notably wore a reference 6239 with a now-eponymous exotic dial at the start of his racing career in 1972. In later years, photographers captured Newman behind the wheel wearing more modern Daytona references.

Rolex Daytona ‘Sigma’ Dial, Ref. 6265. Stainless steel; diameter 37 mm. Estimate $30,000-50,000. This lot is offered in Christie’s Watches Online Fall Back in Time, 7-21 September, Online

Rolex Daytona ‘Sigma’ Dial, Ref. 6265. Stainless steel; diameter 37 mm. Estimate: $30,000-50,000. This lot is offered in Christie’s Watches Online: Fall Back in Time, 7-21 September, Online

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  • Clean and complete

As finding Daytonas in immaculate condition becomes increasingly more difficult, important collectors jump at the opportunity to own examples that come complete with the original box and papers. Although these examples command a premium, it’s not without good reason, since the history of a watch accompanied by its original paperwork can be traced more easily.

The above Daytona, of Texas provenance, is being offered in extremely clean condition, with intact luminous plots and a thick stainless-steel case. Instead of a conventional Oyster bracelet, this 6265 is mounted on a Jubilee bracelet, giving it an added touch of flair and individuality. 

Rolex Daytona ‘Sigma’ Dial, Ref. 6265. Stainless steel; diameter 37 mm. Estimate $30,000-50,000. This lot is offered in Christie’s Watches Online Fall Back in Time 7-21 September, Online

Rolex Daytona ‘Sigma’ Dial, Ref. 6265. Stainless steel; diameter 37 mm. Estimate: $30,000-50,000. This lot is offered in Christie’s Watches Online: Fall Back in Time 7-21 September, Online

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  • It’s all about the details

Collecting vintage Rolex sports models requires a keen eye for detail, since in many cases the presence or absence of the smallest, seemingly insignificant dial marking can have a drastic impact on the overall desirability and value of a watch. This example of the reference 6265 is a good example, because it features a number of interesting and uncommon details.

Upon taking a closer look at the dial under a loupe, Daytona experts and aficionados will surely notice the sigma markings just above the luminous plot at six o’clock, which indicate that the markers on the dial have been produced in white gold. Another rare and noteworthy aspect of the dial in question is the appearance of the contrasting black registers against the sunburst silver dial, which give the watch an ultra-legible, bold aesthetic.

From its inception, the Daytona was something extraordinary. As the years tick by, vintage models such as this reference 6265 cannot help but remain iconic.