Head to head Battle of the Rolexes

Head to head: Battle of the Rolexes

Which watch will win the 13 June showdown between two extremely rare and highly desirable Rolexes in New York? Our in-depth look at the strengths of both contenders should offer some pointers

The Watch

A very rare and extremely attractive stainless-steel chronograph Rolex wristwatch with Paul Newman Mark 1 panda dial and bracelet. Signed Rolex, Oyster Cosmograph, ‘Paul Newman’ model.

A very fine, extraordinarily rare early stainless-steel automatic Rolex wristwatch with centre seconds and gilt ‘Explorer dial’. Signed Rolex, Oyster Perpetual, 200/660, Submariner model.

Rolex. A very rare and extremely attractive stainless-steel chronograph wristwatch with Paul Newman Mark 1 panda dial and bracelet. Signed Rolex, Oyster Cosmograph, ‘Paul Newman’ model, Ref. 6263, Case No. 2’197’828, circa 1969. Sold for $732,500 on 13 June 2018 at Christie’s in New York

Rolex. A very rare and extremely attractive stainless-steel chronograph wristwatch with Paul Newman Mark 1 panda dial and bracelet. Signed Rolex, Oyster Cosmograph, ‘Paul Newman’ model, Ref. 6263, Case No. 2’197’828, circa 1969. Sold for $732,500 on 13 June 2018 at Christie’s in New York

Rolex. A very fine, extraordinarily rare and early stainless-steel automatic wristwatch with centre seconds and gilt ‘Explorer Dial’. Signed Rolex, Oyster Perpetual, 200660, Submariner, Ref. 6538, Case No. 140480, circa 1956. Sold for $1,068,500 on 13 June 2018 at Christie’s in New York

Rolex. A very fine, extraordinarily rare and early stainless-steel automatic wristwatch with centre seconds and gilt ‘Explorer Dial’. Signed Rolex, Oyster Perpetual, 200/660, Submariner, Ref. 6538, Case No. 140'480, circa 1956. Sold for $1,068,500 on 13 June 2018 at Christie’s in New York

Reference & Date

6263, circa 1969

6538, circa 1956

Dial

White, square numerals with luminous accents, luminous hands, three black subsidiary dials. The Mark 1 dial is very clean, accentuating the stark contrast of the bright white dial with black registers. Its unblemished appearance is almost unheard of for an original watch more than 50 years old.

This impossibly rare so-called ‘explorer’ dial — with Arabic numerals at 3, 6, and 9 (a configuration usually reserved for the Explorer model) — is what sets this watch apart. The ‘metres first’ depth rating of ‘200/660’ is printed in red rather than the more common white — something that’s almost never seen, especially on a dial which is in absolute original condition.

Case

Stainless steel, black bezel, engraved screw-back, two screw-down buttons in the band, inside case-back stamped 6239 and C.R.S, 37.5mm diameter. With all-original crown, pushers and bezel, the case is extraordinary.

Stainless steel, screw-back, inside case-back stamped 6538 and 1.56, 37mm diameter. The case is unpolished and in its natural state.

Bracelet/Strap/Clasp

Original Rolex Oyster bracelet and deployant clasp, stamped 7935 19 & 1 71 and 271 to the endlinks, overall approximate length 7 inches.

Original Nato strap.

Condition

Purchased new in Switzerland during the early 1970s while the original owner was touring Europe on a motorcycle, this ‘Panda Paul Newman’ has been hidden for the last 30-plus years. Only worn a handful of times by its owner, it was then placed into a safety deposit box, emerging decades later, fresh to market and in impeccable condition.

In the mid 1960s the original owner removed the bezel from the watch and put it in a drawer, because he found it easier to clean without the bezel on. He continued wearing his watch without the bezel every day until he retired in the mid-1990s, when he then wore the watch while fishing, sailing, motorcycling, diving and walking on the beach until his passing in mid-2017.

Provenance

From the original owner. Fresh to market.

From the son of the original owner. Fresh to market.

Accompanied by

An original invoice dated 19 August, 1971, from retailer Rosch & Co., Bern, for the amount of CHF 800, an original bank slip and a green presentation box.

N/A.

Desirability

This watch, featuring one of the most attractive and rare dial variations to be found on a vintage Daytona, is one of the most beautiful and important ‘Panda Paul Newman’ Oyster Cosmographs to come to auction. Its state of preservation and originality is exactly what collectors crave.

Few Submariner models fascinate Rolex aficionados as much as the ‘Big Crown’ — AKA James Bond — Submariner. Big Crowns are as attractive as they are rare. Finding a genuine 6538 is tough; finding one that’s fresh to market and from the family of the original owner is almost unheard of.

Estimate

$500,000-1,000,000

$500,000-1,000,000