Rolex. A fine and very rare stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with so-called Panda Paul Newman dial, engraved case back, bracelet and box
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Rolex. A fine and very rare stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with so-called Panda Paul Newman dial, engraved case back, bracelet and box


Rolex. A fine and very rare stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with so-called Panda Paul Newman dial, engraved case back, bracelet and box
Signed Rolex, Oyster, Cosmograph, ref. 6265, case no. 2'849'276, circa 1971
Cal. 727 mechanical movement, 17 jewels, white matte dial, applied square numerals, luminous accents, fifth of a second divisions on sunken black track, three sunken engine-turned black subsidiary dials for constant seconds, 12 hours and 30 minutes registers, tonneau-shaped water-resistant-type case, metal bezel with tachymetre scale calibrated to 200 units, engraved screw back, screw down crown, two screw down chronograph buttons in the band, stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet, deployant clasp stamped 1 71, case, dial and movement signed
37 mm. diam.; overall length approx. 180 mm.
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On lots marked with an + in the catalogue, VAT will be charged at 8% on both the premium as well as the hammer price.

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Lot Essay

With Rolex fitted presentation box and outer packaging.

Undisputedly considered one of the most attractive and iconic timepieces ever produced, the Rolex Daytona is a staple of any serious Rolex collection. When it comes graced by the rare Paul Newman dial, however, its appeal and collectability are immensely boosted. Even in the rarefied universe of Paul Newman Daytonas, however, there are different levels of rarity and appeal. The present timepiece boasts one of the rarest and most appreciated versions ever produced: the so-called "Panda" dial. The Panda dial is characterized by a dichromic colour scheme: the only colours present on this dial are white and black, indeed like the Asian bear it is named after. It is speculated that this variation was released in order to boost the sales of the "exotic" (the name used by Rolex for Paul Newman dials at the time) dials. As a matter of fact, Paul Newman dials were not very much appreciated by clients at the time. They were considered too flashy and unusual. It is possible that the "Panda" variation was a "last resort effort" to simplify the dial design in order to make it more appealing in the eyes of the public. The fact that Panda dials can be found only on watches bearing serial numbers around 2.2 million to 3 million, very close to the end of the production of Paul Newman dials (happening just a little later, around 3.2 million), seems to support this thesis. In any case, the final result is a masterpiece of design. The simplicity of the black and white colour scheme coupled with the design complexity of the dial results in a supremely elegant watch, combining masculine, sporty and elegant traits.

The present timepiece, however, not only bears the rare Paul Newman dial - furthermore preserved in stunning condition - but it also features on its case back one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in the world of vintage watches. Its case back is engraved with an unusual motif: a Swiss (apparently) cross inscribed in what seems to be a marine rope. Such an engraving is well known to the Rolex collectors' community. It appears on a handful of watches from this time: so far the market knows about a dozen such timepieces. It is agreed that it is an original Rolex engraving, and that these watches were specifically ordered with this engraving to the case back. Indeed, the case number is stamped to the inside of the case back, a feature found on other Rolex timepieces, such as Milsubs, Comex watches, or Omani wristwatches with engraved case back. So far, everytime that a case number is found inside the case back of a Rolex watch, the watch is a special order piece, as exemplified by the three previous examples. There is no reason not to believe this is the case in this instance as well. The meaning of this engraving, and the original destination of the series, are however shrouded in mystery, and indeed this engraving is known among collectors as "Mystery Cross". In depth research failed to clarify this enigma.

Rumor had it that these were timepieces commissioned by the Pontifical Swiss Guard. We are indebted to Major Peter Hasler, director of the Archives of the Pontifical Swiss Guard, for clarifying that no record of any order of Rolex timepieces exist in the Swiss Guard Archives.
Our research indicates that the watch was sold in Switzerland in 1972, consequently it is conceivable that it is a timepiece made for the Swiss Army. However, multiple sources agree that the only timepieces ever made for the Swiss army were Doxa watches.
Research made with nautical associations, museums and libraries across Switzerland failed as well to identify even a remotely similar design. Prominent retailers of the time were contacted, in the hope that the series was obtained through one of them, but to no avail: either they have no record of such special order, or their archives do not stretch this far back. The one entity which did not provide feedback is the Swiss Army itself, which might indicate that either they have no record of such series of watches, or that these timepiece were reserved for a classified team they cannot disclose any information about yet. This last possibility is of course just speculation, even far-fetched, but, considered the political situation at the time, not totally implausible.

Whatever the genesis of these unusual timepieces is, the rarity and mystery surrounding them classify this watch as one of the most particular, rare and appealing Paul Newman Daytona to grace an auction room.

Mr. Juergen Delemond - Beyer
Maj. Peter Hassler - Pontifical Swiss guard
Mr. Martin Haudenschild - Stiftung HAM
Mr. Marco Leupi - Scholar
Mrs. Deborah Locatelli - Musée International d'Horologerie
Mr. Daniel Rey - Bucherer

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