An ultra-rare Rolex Cosmograph Daytona JPS reference 6264 in 18k gold achieved more than $1.5 million in a single-lot online sale held by Sotheby’s in London. The 1969 “John Player Special,” named after the legendary 1970s Formula 1 livery, because of its black and gold “Paul Newman” dial. The price set auction records for a watch sold in the UK, for a Daytona JPS and for a watch sold in an online auction. It also achieved one of the highest prices ever paid for a Daytona.
The watch, which had never appeared at auction, was sold in a dedicated timed online sale held from July 24 till July 31. During the weeklong period, the timepiece received 17 bids from five buyers who drove its price to nearly double its high estimate of $800,000.
This watch combines two of the most in-demand features of a Rolex watch. It has the rare “Paul Newman” dial and the gold and black colors that are reminiscent of the “John Player Special” cigarette brand and more importantly the livery of the 1970s Formula 1 cars they sponsored. It remains one of the most famous design schemes in Grand Prix history.
The watch is one of just a handful known to exist as it was produced in a very small numbers over a short period of time, according to Sotheby’s. The few that do exist seldom appear for sale.
The JPS model combines a yellow gold case and bracelet with a black acrylic bezel and a black dial with gold sub-registers. The initials JPS stand for “John Player Special,” the cigarette brand which is today synonymous with the legendary black and gold livery that adorned Lotus F1 cars from 1972 until 1986.
Some of the details of the now iconic Paul Newman dial include: an acrylic domed crystal, subdials with block markers with crosshairs across each sub-dial meeting at the center, and the seconds sub-dial at 9, o’clock marked at the 15, 30, 45 and 60 positions.
The sale was the third time since April that Sotheby’s set a record for an online auction, according to the auction house. It was final sale in a season that brought in $48 million for Sotheby’s in 2020.
These results were driven by numerous records for modern and vintage wristwatches, historic benchmarks for antique pieces and the strong performance of new auction formats, including its “Watches Weekly” sales launched in April.
Among the records set by the auction house so far this year, are:
* A record for an automatic Daytona – For a possibly unique Cosmograph Daytona, Reference 16516, platinum chronograph watch with lapis lazuli hardstone dial, circa 1999, which sold for $ 3.3 million in Sotheby’s Hong Kong “Important Watches” live auction on July 11, smashing its $1 million high estimate.
* A record for a tourbillon by Abraham-Louis Breguet – For the King George III’s Tourbillon watch – one of the most important watches created by the famed watchmaker, which sold for $2 million at Sotheby’s London auction on July 14.
* A record for a pocket watch sold in an online auction – For the Dent “Ultra Complication,” one of the most sophisticated watches ever made, according to the auction house. It fetched $832,240.
* The highest total for an online watch sale – For the third the third installment of the landmark collection “Masterworks of Time.” It was the first online sale ever dedicated to world-class pocket watches, which was held in June. The 125-lot auction was 100% sold (white glove sale), fetching $4.5.
“The record-breaking sale of this Daytona JPS summarizes in many ways the takeaways of this pivotal season: the eagerness of collectors to embrace new ways to transact with us, their resolute confidence to buy and sell high-value lots online and, of course, the unabated appetite for freshness, quality and rarity,” said Sam Hines, worldwide head of Sotheby’s Watches. It has been thrilling for us to steer this transformation.”