The name Rolex instantly brings to mind luxury and expert craftsmanship. It is no surprise that many Rolex timepieces sell for a high amount. Even the most basic Rolex watches sell for a few thousand dollars. Over time, many Rolex timepieces have come up for auction, selling for thousands and even millions of dollars. Here is a list of some of the most expensive Rolex watches ever sold:
• 1942 Rolex Chronograph – This unique model is considered one of the most expensive watches ever sold. It is also one of the rarest. Released in 1942, Rolex only made 12 units which feature a nickel finish and lever 17 jewels movement and silver matte dial with pink gold Arabic and baton numerals. Originally estimated at a value of $680,000, a single example sold for $1.16 million at a Christie’s auction.
• Eric Clapton’s 1971 Rolex Daytona – Anything Eric Clapton owned is highly valued, including his Rolex timepiece. This unique watch features a silver monochrome dial which led to its nickname “Albino.” This is considered a rarer Rolex timepiece and is typically valued at around $100,000. However, because Clapton wore this specific one, it sold for $505,000.
• Rolex GMT 116769TBR – With its use of luxurious and highly prized materials, this watch is considered the priciest timepiece to ever come directly from the company. It features a stunning diamond encrusted dial with luminous hour markers. The 18k white gold case is also encrusted with 76 brilliant round diamonds. This particular watch sold for $485,350.
• James Bond 1973 Rolex 5513 – In the classic Bond film Live and Let Die, Roger Moore wore a Rolex 5513. This classic watch features a stainless steel body and white on black dial. Because it was worn by “James Bond,” it also offers a razor disc, buzz saw and a magnetic field generator. This highly prized and unique timepiece sold for $450,000 at auction.
• Paul Newman Rolex Daytona – The Paul Newman Daytona has long been the signature watch of the company. Its stunning casing and dial are made of 14k champagne gold. The dial is fitted with a tachometer and three highly recognizable black interior sub dials for optimal contrast. This timepiece is extremely rare, with only 200 units made. One of these rare watches sold for $106,273 at auction.
The Rolex Air King watch is considered one of Rolex’s most enduring models. Its long history dates back to the 1930s. Prior to World War II, Rolex Oyster Perpetual wristwatches were utilized by British pilots because of their reliability and precision. When Rolex learned that British pilots preferred their watches, the company created the special “Air” family. The first version of this unique watch was released in 1945 and acted as a conglomeration of all the “Air” watches. Because of its association with British pilots, this unique timepiece was nicknamed the “Warrior Watch.”
Measuring 34mm, this unique watch was available in gold plating and featured a unique two-tone bezel and bracelet. This two-tone look makes it perfect for a nice dinner or a day in the office. Like many other Rolex watches, this particular version utilizes a watertight Oyster case and screw down Twinlock crown, letting it remain waterproof up to 100 meters. Inside, the watch utilizes a 27-jewel movement. Unlike similar watches like the Day Date, this particular timepiece is fairly simple and does not feature a date aperture or other additional feature. This leaves the dial clear and uncluttered. The watch’s stick hands add to this feel, giving the watch a “no nonsense” and simple look.
The watch was left relatively untouched until 1989 when it received a movement improvement. By 2007, it was a fully certified COSC chronometer. However, in 2014 Rolex ended this special line of watches. Despite it no longer being in production, this unique timepiece is readily available on the pre-owned Rolex watch market. Its tough practicality and durability, accompanied by a simplistic style, has drawn a wide range of admirers and buyers. If you are looking for an elegant and simple watch that is perfect for any moment in your life, from a formal gathering to a relaxed weekend cookout, this unique Rolex timepiece is the perfect choice.
A famous Rolex ref 6263 Oyster “Albino” Daytona that once graced the wrist of famous guitarist Eric Clapton has gone up for auction in Geneva. To everyone’s surprise, the extremely rare watch broke the record for any Rolex timepiece that has even been sold at auction. Selling for $1.4 million, the Oyster Albino Daytona once belonging to Eric Clapton set a new world record.
Aside from belonging to one of the most famous guitarists of all time, the Rolex ref 6263 is only one of four such watches known to exist. This “holy grail” of Rolex watches is so sought after because of its rarity and unique “Albino” coloring. The watch offers a gorgeous silvered dial and silvered chronograph subdials, giving it a very light and almost washed-out look. This led to the watch being nicknamed the “Albino” Daytona. This timepiece is a drastic contrast to the typical Daytona of the time period which features contrasting black chronograph subdials with white printing.
Rolex ref 6263 is considered a vintage watch and was originally produced in 1971. This particular model was bought by Clapton in the late 1990s. Within its waterproof stainless steel case is the manually wound caliber 727 movement. The watch also features a matching stainless steel bracelet.
Breaking World Records
This is not the first time this particular watch has gone up for auction, nor the first time it has set a world record. On June 5, 2003 the same Clapton Albino watch was auctioned at Sotheby’s New York where it successfully smashed the previous world record for the sale of a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona at auction by selling for $505,000. This was five times its pre-auction estimate. It has again surprised experts with this last sale of $1.4 million with its pre-auction estimate at $500,000.
The Rolex company has produced a wide range of watches for the armed forces around the world for most of its history. It is no surprise that some of these watches have seen action in battle and witnessed historic events. One such Rolex watch is set to go up for sale at auction in England.
In December 1942, Flight Lieutenant Gerald Imeson ordered and received a Rolex Oyster Chronograph while being held as a prisoner of war (PoW) in the Stalag Luft III camp in Germany. During this troubling time, Rolex allowed British PoWs who were officers to replace any timepieces seized by the German soldiers and settle their balance once the war had concluded.
This typical watch of the time period was worn on Imeson’s wrist while he famously dug three tunnels to escape in 1944. This even became known as the “Great Escape” and has been immortalized in film and legend. Unfortunately, Imeson, who was 172 in line to escape, was unable to do so before the German guards discovered the tunnels. By 1945, the Soviet army was closing in on the prison. To counter, the Germans forced the PoWs, including Imeson, on the “Long March.” Without protection from the hostile winter conditions and without food, Imeson miraculously survived and made it to another PoW camp. Upon arriving, Imeson and his Rolex watch were transported by cattle truck to Tarmstedt Ost on February 4 and later to Marlag-Milag Nord Royal Naval PoW camp. Imeson remained there until April 1945 when the camp was liberated by the Allied forces. After the war had concluded, Imeson returned to Britain where he paid off his balance to Rolex of £170.
Currently, this special piece of history is being held at the Bourne End Auction Rooms in Buckinghamshire where expert appraisers believe it will sell for $38,000 or more. Those who decide to bid on this special timepiece will have a unique opportunity to gain a rare piece of history as well as a durable, reliable and timeless watch.
Every luxury watch collector has a list of their dream watches. As one would image the more rare a watch the more out of reach and in many times desirable it becomes. When looking for super rare watches we generally notice that vintage Rolex watches top the list with models that range from vintage Submariner references to classic Daytona watches.
If you are in the market for a new vintage timepiece, or just want to learn more you are in for a treat. We have scavenged the online world to provide you with everything you need to know about vintage Rolex watches.
How To Buy Vintage Watches
…the market for truly “vintage” watches is something quite different from that for relatively young “pre-owned” watches. Any watch made before 1990 could be considered vintage, although some collectors put the maximum year of “vintage” at 1980 or even earlier. I’d like to use 1990 as the baseline for this article, which offers my tips on buying vintage watches, but in the end you’ll have to decide for yourself whether a given watch is old enough for you to qualify it as “vintage.”Read More
Best Watches For Men Well, “vintage Rolex” is its own brand now, and it’s a brand that’s almost designed to shred guys like you. Rolexes are timeless. They are classic. But they’re timeless and classic because Rolex made tool watches, not jewelry. You know why the Submariner is called the Submariner? Because it’s a dive watch. The Daytona is a racing chronograph, which is one reason it’s named after a racetrack. These watches were tough, and years of beating on them has only made them more rugged and more real, and less like the gaudy, over-designed monstrosities coming out from brands who will remain nameless…Read More
5 Watches That Deserve a Re-Edition Here are five watches that, in my opinion, would be perfect as the basis for a modern re-edition. They range from watches released half a century ago to watches that have been on the market for only two decades.
My Top 3 Rolex GMT-Master Watches From the first models, with their bakelite turning bezels, to the current models that feature an independent extra hour hand and a ceramic turning bezel, there are plenty to choose from, as this watch has been on the market since 1954.
Vintage Rolex & Bamford Watch Department Online Trunkshow Sale Online retailer Moda Operandi is known for their highly exclusive trunkshows featuring commissioned one-of-a-kind designer items including watches. Their latest exclusive collaboration showcases the timeless and iconic Rolex watch; the first, from George Bamford, who brings you one-of-a-kind luxury versions of Rolex sport watches and the second, from CMT Fine Watch and Jewelry Advisors, the brainchild of Carl Cohen, who brings you a heritage assortment of Rolexes. With both of these lines, Moda Operandi ensures that there’s a Rolex out there for every discerning taste. This online trunkshow is available for a limited time this month in June. Read More
Found Christie’s Offers 23 Vintage Rolex Watches, All With Boxes And Papers, For Sale Online, Right Now Nothing hits a vintage Rolex lover more than three words: “box and papers.” This means that the watch comes with original documentation and boxes from when sold new. This, in particular with vintage Rolex watches, is highly uncommon – a Rolex is a tool watch and so few would take the time to consider that they might want the paperwork and accessories down the road. There are, at times, serious premiums paid for a watch with box and papers and today, Christie’s Online Watch Shop let loose a sale of 23 vintage Rolex watches, all with box and papers.Read More
Hands On With Some of The Most Iconic Rolexes Some of you guys know I’m usually writing about new watches, mostly independent brands, and rarely about the traditional manufacturers. Especially vintage watches, I usually leave that to other, more experienced ‘watch geeks’. However once in a while I do get a chance to meet with some very knowledgeable collectors or retailers; and when that happens it seems as if their passion just transmits to me, and I, too want to learn all about those rare pieces and their stories. This Summer our team was in Florence, and had the pleasure to meet Mr. Marlon De Simone, one of the co-owners of ‘WatchesInRome’ – a vintage and special vintage watch retailer in Rome. He traveled all the way from there so that we could see and get our hands on some of his finest rare vintage Rolex timepieces.Read More
One of the longest running and most recognizable Rolex watches is the GMT Master with Reference 1675. Produced between 1959 and 1980, the GMT Master 1675 enjoy one of the longest production runs in Rolex history. Though a vintage watch, the GMT Master is not a hard Rolex watch to find simply because it was produced for such a long time and there is more product. Despite this there are versions of the 1675 that are more rare and valuable, especially among the early models.
There are several key identifiers that help dealers date the GMT Master 1675. For example, earlier models featured pointed crown guards as well as a chapter ring. The very earliest Rolex GMT Masters were produced with a Bakelite bezel. However, ref 1675 has always had a metal bezel for sturdiness and stability so this does not help date it. During the first ten years of production the Rolex GMT Master 1675 featured a small triangle on the extra hour hand. This was later replaced by a red hand with a larger triangle in the 1970s. This simple change is one of the easiest identifying points in helping to date examples of the GMT Master 1675 during its long production run.
Earl 1675 versions also feature gilt dial printing on the outer ring around the hour and minute markers. Later, after the larger triangle on the 24-hour hand was introduced, the printing on the dial changed. In 1965 it had completely changed to all-white dial printing from the gilt printing, and by 1967 the outer ring had been completely removed. The pointed crown guards were also replaced with rounded ones. These identifying markers make it easier to date a ref 1675.
The GMT Master 1675’s bezel is its most recognizable feature. The red and blue bezel has been nicknamed the “Pepsi” bezel, and is highly sought after by collectors. In 1972 the bezel became available in all black, offering more option.
The watch’s caliber also changed during production. The original 1675 features caliber 1565 from 1959 to 1964. From 1965 to 1980 the watch featured caliber 1575. As with most Rolex watches, the GMT Master 1675 offers a water proof oyster case that can withstand water pressure up to 50 meters (165 feet). The Rolex GMT Master was also the first Rolex sports watch to feature both the Oyster and Jubilee bracelet styles.
The GMT Master is one of the most recognizable Rolex watches, but it is also fairly easy to find and add to your collection. If you want a beautiful, popular and unique piece, the Rolex GMT Master 1675 is the watch for you.