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Special Rolex Daytona Dials

Rolex was the official timekeeper of the car races in Daytona, Florida for the first time in 1962. One year later, the company launched its Cosmograph Reference 6239, a chronograph watch that evolved into the Daytona we all know and love today.

Many celebrities and watch collectors, including actor and racer Paul Newman, have been big fans of the Daytona. These watches were created specifically for car racers and have undergone many different styles in their 55-year history. And in the time before Rolex was completely vertically integrated in their production, vintage Daytonas are chockfull of design inconsistencies that have set the vintage watch world abuzz. We’ve put together a small list of some of our favorite Daytona dial variations that have grown significantly in value over the years.

Our Favorite Daytona Dials & What Makes Them So Special

The dial of a Rolex dramatically changes the aesthetic of the timepiece and is what really gives the watch character. Over time, Rolex Daytona watches have featured a number of unique dials that have become important for collectors.

Big Red vs. Small Red

Starting in 1970, Daytona references 6263 and 6265 were introduced, featuring large screw-down pushers that gave the watch a much more heavy-duty and larger appearance. These two references possessed a myriad of dial variations, with some dials that completely omitted the “Daytona” moniker. Of the dials that did include the “Daytona” text, the bright red serif fonts appear just above the middle sub-register in two font sizes: large or small. The Daytona “Big Red” and “Small Red” are both highly prized by collectors and comes in silver or black dials with contrasting sub-dials. Click here for more information on an example offered this April at auction!

Take a look at some examples of “Big Red” Daytona’s that Fortuna has offered at auction. The “Daytona” text extends well beyond the two hour markers on either side of the “12” in the sub-register. The text on “Small Red” Daytona’s do not extend as widely as the “Big Reds.”

Rolex Daytona “Big Red” Ref. 6265. Achieved $71,875 at Fortuna Auction (April 2018).
Rolex Daytona “Big Red” Ref. 6265 in Steel. Achieved $68,750 at Fortuna (April 2020)

Close-up of the “Big Red” dial, with the bold red “Daytona” text in a larger font-size

The Four-Line Daytona

In general, the circa 1988 Daytona reference 16520 is rare, with the early bezel graduated to 200 units per hour—prior to Rolex increasing the bezel to 400 units per hour to keep up with the faster drivers of the period. This Daytona followed the end of the porcelain dial automatic Daytona.

The “Four-Line” Daytona Ref. 16520—also referred to as the “Mark 2” dial—is an early run in which Rolex may have been testing fewer words on this dial than previous designs, so the watch reads “Superlative Chronometer” with “Officially Certified” noticeably missing. The ref. 16520 also features an upside-down “6” in the center sub-register, resembling a nine more than a six. This is considered a small design flaw which actually makes the piece more valuable to collectors.

Rolex “Four-Line” “Zenith” Daytona Ref. 16520. Achieved $43,750 at Fortuna Auction (September 2018).
Stainless steel bezel of Daytona Ref. 16520 is marked up to 200 units per hour.
Close-up of the “Four-Line” Daytona, with “Officially Certified” missing from the dial.

“Paul Newman” or Exotic Dial

Daytona’s with the “Paul Newman” dial don’t look like a Rolex watch at first glance. Singer was actually the manufacturer of this dial before Rolex made its components in-house. Originally called exotic dials, the designs feature large Art Deco numerals and used 15-30-45-60 markers in the seconds sub-dial, instead of the more typical 20-40-60. These dials also have square markers in the subsidiary registers and a bright red minute track surrounding the dial, making the watch look “funkier” compared to the minimalist dials found on the typical Daytona of the time. Click here for more information on a “Paul Newman” Daytona coming up for auction this April!

Though not initially popular, these dials received a second life once they were popularized by Paul Newman. Their extreme rarity also contributes to their significant rise in value over their years. In fact, Paul Newman’s own “Paul Newman” Daytona Ref. 6239 broke auction records when the wristwatch sold in 2017 for $17.8 million. The model is still commonly known today as the “Paul Newman” and is worth roughly 4-5 times more than the standard Ref. 6239, without the “Paul Newman” dial.

Rolex Paul Newman Daytona 6239 Black Dial - Fortuna Auction NYC
Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman” Ref. 6239, Lot 3005 in Fortuna’s April 2020 IMPORTANT WATCHES auction.
Close-up of the Daytona Ref. 6239 with the “Paul Newman” dial in black.
Close-up of the Daytona Ref. 6239 (same model), with the standard dial.

Patrizzi Dial

This version of the Daytona Ref. 16520 was nicknamed after Osvaldo Patrizzi, a watch auctioneer who first appreciated and spoke about the unique color-change on this dial of the Rolex Daytona, in which the silver sub-dials achieve an attractive brown color over time.

Rolex Daytona “Patrizzi Dial” Ref. 16520, achieved $31,250 at Fortuna IMPORTANT WATCHES (September 2018).

What makes the Patrizzi Dial unique is that roughly between 1994 and 1995, Rolex used Zapon varnish to protect the face of the black dials. The varnish proved to not offer adequate protection, and the effects of UV and oxidation turned the silver dials brown. The watches gain a deeper shade with time, and no two watches have aged the same way, so color variations make each piece unique.

Today, collectors especially prize this earlier version of the Ref. 16520, especially since Rolex made very few of them for its imperfect dial. Like the “Four-Line” Daytona, the six is upside down in the hours sub-register, making it appear as a nine—yet another design flaw.

The “Patrizzi” dial is one of the most sought-after design anomalies in vintage Rolexes.

Close-up of the “Patrizzi” dial, with the brown coloration in the sub-register rims.

Zenith Daytona’s

Rolex wasn’t always the vertically integrated company we know today. In fact, earlier Daytona’s all utilized movements that were outsourced by other manufacturers. Rolex’s first automatic Daytona was powered by Zenith movements. They were discontinued in 2000 but are admired by collectors, in part because they have the sub-register of running seconds at nine o’clock, a dial design which was seen with original Daytonas.

Rolex “Zenith” Daytona, Ref. 16518, in 18K yellow gold case. Achieved $18,750 at Fortuna Auction (June 2018).

The release of the “Zenith” Daytona in 1988 increased the size of dials to 40mm, up from 37, and included a lacquered finish. These were the first Daytona’s to receive sapphire crystals and crown guards. They also came in a range of 18K gold cases, becoming a popular choice for dress watches among distinguished men—far from the racing origins of the Daytona Rolex.

Daytonas with “Zenith” movements has the running seconds sub-register positioned at 9 o’clock.

Daytonas powered by Rolex’s in-house caliber 4130 have the seconds and hour sub-registers swapped.

If you’ve been looking for the perfect vintage timepiece to invest in, whether it’s a Rolex Daytona or not, head over to our upcoming auctions page to keep an eye on our future watch sales or subscribe to our Watches Newsletter below to hear about our latest acquisitions.

Rolex Paul Newman Daytona Ref. 6239-Fortuna Auction Important Watches

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Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman” Ref. 6239 in Steel | April 2020 Important Watches

Paul Newman wearing his own Rolex Daytona Ref. 6239

Paul Newman wearing his own Rolex Daytona Ref. 6239 (Photo by Douglas Kirkland/Corbis via Getty Images).

Fortuna is happy to give you a closer look at a prized highlight from our upcoming Important Watches sale, the Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman” Ref. 6239 in Steel.

The “Paul Newman” is one of the most desirable and valuable of vintage sport watches. Rolex unveiled the first Daytona watch in the early 1960s and named it after the famous raceway. A subset of these watches, with the distinctive “exotic” dial, came to be associated with the American icon, Paul Newman, who is known and revered for his many pursuits, from his acting to his philanthropy, and most importantly his career as a professional race car driver. Paul’s wife gifted him the watch and he became quite fond of it, seen wearing it often—on and off the racetrack.

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Cartier Crash 1991 Limited Edition - Fortuna December 2019 Important Watches

Record Breaking Cartier Crash Leads Fortuna’s December Sales

NEW YORK, December 16, 2019—Fortuna, the NYC-based auction house specializing in fine jewelry and watches, concluded its final auctions for the year, Important Jewels and Important Watches, achieving over $1.8 million in revenue and setting a world record for the iconic Cartier Crash, one of the most unusual and intriguing watches on the market.

Created in 1967, legend has it that the Cartier Crash, which resembles the melting clocks in Salvador Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory,” was inspired by a timepiece recovered from a scorching car wreck. Reissued in 1991 in a limited edition of only 400 pieces, the rare timepiece is quickly achieving cult-status and has been spotted on the wrists of high profile celebrities, such as a style icon and avid watch collector, Kanye West. Yet, veteran collectors were shocked when the Crash flew by its high estimate of $50,000, achieving $81,250 at the boutique NYC auction house.

“The record-breaking price achieved for the Cartier Crash, once again affirms our belief that people should always opt for the auction house that specializes in a particular field,” said Seth Holehouse, Auction and Head of Jewelry & Watches, at Fortuna. “In a market as complex and ever-changing as that of watches and jewelry, it pays to partner with auction houses that are completely tuned in to what the market is willing to offer.”

Sold alongside the Crash was an exceedingly rare Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman” Ref. 6239—the king of vintage sport watches. After the historic sale of Paul Newman’s own Rolex Daytona, which achieved over $17 million in 2018, prices for the ref. 6239 have stabilized at around $100,000–$180,000 across all major auction houses. However, the timepiece achieved a remarkable $200,000 at Fortuna—the strongest price seen globally this year.   

In jewelry highlights, a gorgeous Tiffany & Co. Art Deco Diamond and Emerald Bracelet, property of an Arkansas lady, achieved $68,750 against a pre-sale estimate of $35,000–$50,000, while a Retro Van Cleef & Arpels Diamond Bracelet sold for $43,750, surpassing its estimate of $20,000–$30,000—once again confirming the strength in the market for period style jewelry from the major design houses. This December, Fortuna offered an extensive collection of over 400 lots of fine jewelry and watches from private estates and collectors, and achieved a phenomenal sell-through rate of over 71%. 

When asked about the trajectory of the jewelry and watch market in the new year, the CEO of Fortuna, John Saxon expressed high hopes for the company. “It’s no secret that the strength of the jewelry and watch market wax and wane with economic cycles, but Fortuna continues to keep their finger on the pulse. Jewelry and watches are all we do, and we are determined to enter 2020 with the ability to achieve the highest possible market prices for our clients, as we have unquestionably proven in our recent December sales.”

We Invite You to Auction!

We are always accepting fine jewelry and watch consignments for upcoming auctions, whether it is a single item or an entire collection. Check out our upcoming auctions here. Please contact our office or fill out our web form for a complimentary auction appraisal. Our specialists look forward to helping you understand the value of your pieces.

For more information, please contact us at:
P: (212) 389-9040

E: valuation@fortunaauction.com

paul newman

Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman”: What It Is and Why It’s So Valuable

Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona is something of a legend in the watch community. Newman’s iconic wristwatch singlehandedly saved an entire series of Daytona watches, before setting records itself when it sold. In a high-profile auction, the 1968 Oyster Cosmograph Daytona Paul Newman wore over the decades sold for $17.5 million, setting the record for the highest price ever recorded for a wristwatch to date.

Not only is the original watch Newman wore highly valuable, but it has also raised the value of similar models of Daytona watches. As an example, a watch of the same reference number as Newman’s Daytona recently sold for $275,000 at auction.

 

Who Is Paul Newman & Why Is the “Paul Newman” Daytona So Valuable?

Paul Newman, the famous American actor and philanthropist, starred in classic films like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Color of Money, The Sting and Cool Hand Luke. Many people know him for his movies, but he also put his stamp on history as a professional race car driver and getting a collection of Rolexes to carry his namesake.

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Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman” Ref. 6239 | December 2019 Important Watches

The Important Watches collection is led by an exceedingly rare and fresh-to-market Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman” Ref. 6239, known amongst watch enthusiasts as the most desirable and valuable vintage sport watches. It will be offered for an estimate of $150,000–$250,000 at auction. Famously worn by the actor and race car enthusiast, the watch has become just as legendary as the man who it is associated with.

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Cartier 6.69ct Burmese Sapphire and Diamond Ring - Fortuna Exchange: February Sale

Fortuna Exchange: February Sale Highlights

NEW YORK, NY— Fortuna Exchange: February Sale was a strong start to a new monthly auction series that Fortuna introduced in 2019, offering collectors a broad range of fine jewelry and watches from celebrated makers across all eras. The Fortuna Exchange was created to provide our sellers greater opportunities per year to sell their assets on a global platform, without the constraints or limitations of consigning their pieces to seasonal sales that are few and far between.

With the addition of regular monthly auctions, alongside our larger signature sales that occur biannually, we are excited to offer our clients a year that is overflowing with rare and exciting fine jewelry and watch offerings.

Estate and Signed Jewelry Lead the Sale

In fine jewelry highlights, signed jewelry performed very strongly—achieving a total sell-through rate by value of 85.4%. In particular, the cover lot, a very fine Cartier 6.69ct Burmese Sapphire and Diamond Ring, prompted a roar of competitive bidding. The property of a New York lady, the finely crafted ring achieved a final price of $65,625, exceeding a pre-sale estimate of $40,000-$50,000. All in all, jewelry by Cartier and Tiffany & Co. drew the attention of bidders across the globe, achieving sell-through rates by value of 81.5% and 84.6% respectively.

 

A Cartier Unheated Burmese 6.69ct Burmese Sapphire and Diamond Ring. Achieved $65,625 at auction, against a pre-sale estimate of $40,000-$50,000.

 

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Fancy Intense Blue Diamond Ring- Fortuna Fine Jewelry and Watch Auction NYC December 2018 Magnificent Jewels

Fortuna Breaks Major Ground with Biggest Sale Ever—Selling $4 Million in Jewelry and Watches

NEW YORK, NY—Fortuna’s highly anticipated three-part winter auction series took place on December 6-7, 2018, achieving a total sale revenue of around $4 million USD. The auctions offered an exemplary collection of jewelry and watches from the most prestigious makers in their craft, including Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Tiffany & Co., Rolex, and Omega.

Highlighting Fortuna’s first sale of the season, Session One: Magnificent Jewels, was an exquisite 3.05ct Fancy Intense Blue diamond ring. Naturally occurring blue diamonds are found in less than 0.02% of all diamonds mined and are one of the rarest gemstones in the world. This particular blue diamond ring was consigned by an important Asian collector and exhibited a gorgeous and vibrant blue hue that is rarely seen, even among blue diamonds. After a round of tense bidding that had the auction floor buzzing with excitement, the ring achieved $1,395,000, selling to a phone bidder.

In addition to colored diamonds, Magnificent Jewels also featured an exquisite assortment of rare estate jewels and signed pieces spanning many historical style periods. Of the many jewelry highlights, a stunning Art Deco Cartier sapphire and diamond bracelet truly evoked the classic glamour that is characteristic of the Roaring Twenties era. The piece achieved $76,800 USD against a pre-sale estimate of $60,000-$90,000.

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Rolex Paul Newman Daytona - Fortuna NYC Fine Jewelry & Watch Auction

Rolex “Paul Newman” Daytona Fetches $275,000 at Fortuna’s Important Watches Auction

The NYC auction house cements its presence in the world of high-end watch collecting, selling 95% of lots.

On September 27 Fortuna held its second Important Watches auction in New York City, in which the sell-through rate exceeded 95% with a total sale value of $889,729. More than 600 registered bidders from 43 countries competed for 66 lots. The sale was lead by a Rolex “Paul Newman” Daytona reference 6239 that sold for $275,000 including premium. Fortuna has taken yet another strong step forward in establishing itself as a serious player in the high-end watch space.

“There was a lot of fierce bidding and excitement in the auction room. We sold 63 of the 66 lots offered, with many of the watches far exceeding their pre-sale estimates. Our consignors and buyers were very pleased with the results and the quality of watches offered, and we already have a flood of consignments coming in for our December sales.” said Seth Holehouse, Auctioneer and Head of Jewelry & Watches.

A fresh-to-market Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman” reference 6239 achieved $275,000 against a pre-sale estimate of $150,000-$250,000.

Rolex Watches Soars

The Swiss brand performed very well at auction, with all 24 Rolex watches selling. The Rolex lots in the sale brought a total of $584,164, surpassing the combined pre-sale high estimates of $510,300.

Among the top performing Rolex watches were a “Four-Line” Daytona reference 16520 which brought $43,750 against a pre-sale estimate of $18,000–$28,000, a “Double-Red” Sea-Dweller reference 1665 which brought $31,250 against a pre-sale estimate of $14,000–$20,000, and an Explorer II reference 1655 which brought $21,250 against a pre-sale estimate of $12,000–$18,000.

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