To many, the 1970s saw the production of some of the greatest sports watches in Rolex’s rich history. It was during this era that some of the coronet-bearing brand’s most desirable pieces emerged, including the coveted Sigma dial Daytona.
Interest in the Daytona is now stronger than ever before, with truly great examples becoming increasingly rare. Discerning collectors jump at the opportunity to own top-tier examples, such as this uniquely configured Sigma dial Ref. 6263 Oyster Daytona.
At the time of this example’s production, the Daytona wristwatch was intended for professional use in motor racing, in which a fraction of a second could be the difference between victory and defeat. With the passing of time, tool watches have grown larger and more like jewellery, arguably losing the rugged appeal that makes them so appealing today. This explains why so many collectors now look to the back catalogue for a smaller-scale watch of substance.
At 37 mm across, the Daytona could not have been more perfectly sized for professional use. Large enough to be read with ease, the Ref. 6263 was also small enough to slip comfortably under a cuff. According to contemporary watch-sizing standards, it’s generally considered a smaller sports watch, although it should be noted that the reference’s signature screw-down pushers give it a presence, making it wear slightly larger than the average 37 mm watch.
Study of the Rolex Daytona is characterised by an obsession with detail and an appreciation of nuances in design. Experienced collectors chase down rare and unusual variants, like this monochromatic Ref. 6263 equipped with Sigma dials. In addition to indicating the use of gold in the manufacturing of the dial furniture, these Greek-letter-marked dials reflect an industry-wide initiative to establish a standard of quality: in 1973, with quartz movements becoming increasingly prominent, several manufacturers of traditionally crafted timepieces came together to form l’Association pour la Promotion Industrielle de l’Or, or APRIOR.
In producing Sigma-marked dials, these manufacturers sought to promote the value of gold parts, along with long-established watchmaking techniques. Given the inevitable rise of quartz, however, the Sigma dial initiative failed to see substantial market results. Today, the markings are reminders of a uniquely trying period in watchmaking history, and the industry’s spirit of perseverance.
As with any other market, watch prices are subject to fluctuation. While pieces may transition in or out of favour, the Daytona’s flawless design and legendary history have ensured its lasting market strength, making it an exception to the rule — and the one watch to invest in. Overlooked by dealers and collectors for a number of years, the Daytona is now among the chronographs most sought after by watch collectors.