Rolex - The 2021 New York Watch Auction New York Saturday, December 11, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1969
    Reference No: 6241
    Case No: 1’947’324
    Model Name: Cosmograph Daytona, “Paul Newman John Player Special”
    Material: 18K yellow gold
    Calibre: Manual, cal. 722-1, 17 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: 18K yellow gold Rolex Oyster riveted bracelet, endlinks stamped 71, max overall length 210mm
    Clasp/Buckle: 18k gold Rolex deployant clasp stamped 7205
    Dimensions: 37.5mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and clasp signed

  • Catalogue Essay

    Louis Moinet was a French horologist who as an advisor and collaborator with Abraham Louis Breguet, is recognised for his interest in precision timing, and best known today for the first chronograph watch he made in 1815. In modern times the chronograph wristwatch became part of society, fashion, and culture, and remained a tool watch used for endeavors from timing sporting events, to motorsports racing. Amongst some of the most iconic and prestigious chronograph wristwatches admired by collectors is the Rolex Daytona line of timekeepers. The first Daytona model was released by the brand in 1963 with the reference 6239, and featured a dramatic design change with the tachymeter scale removed from the dial, and placed on a metal bezel. This allowed for a more legible dial, and ease of tracking time. The line continued to evolve and change over the last five decades, however the original DNA remained the same. The Daytona model has a long history and symbiotic relationship between the Geneva watchmaker and the high octane world of motor sport.

    Nicknamed "John Player Special", the present watch is an exceedingly rare variant of the “Paul Newman” model. The origin of the name dates back to 1972, when John Player & Sons sponsored the Lotus Formula One team, which emblazoned the cigarette maker’s logo on its cars. Clad in black and gold livery to match John Player & Sons’ corporate colours, the Lotus automobile became an instant hit and icon. Today, the automobile is considered amongst the most attractive and elegant race cars ever designed.

    A requisite for tool watches was durability, accuracy and readability, thus in its early days the chronograph was encased predominantly in stainless steel, while a gold case with its hefty weight and soft material, went against the concept of a durable professional timepiece. Over time, the Daytona became more of a status symbol piece than an actual tool watch, but in the 1960s, 18 karat gold models were extremely rare. The reference 6241 was manufactured from approximately 1966 to 1969, and was amongst the rarest of all Daytona models ever produced. Research indicates fewer than 300 examples were cased in 18K yellow gold, and with the “John Player Special” “Paul Newman” model, far fewer are known.

    Never before offered publicly, the present John Player Special is in outstanding overall condition. The dial is astounding, and free of imperfections. It features round and complete luminous dots that have aged to a warm yellowish hue, matching the hands. The lovely state of preservation and rarity of this model renders it one of the most exciting and beautiful examples of the reference 6241 to be offered at auction.

  • Artist Biography


    Swiss • 1905

    Founded in 1905 England by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis as Wilsdorf & Davis, it soon became known as the Rolex Watch Company in 1915, moving its headquarters to Geneva in 1919. Like no other company, the success of the wristwatch can be attributed to many of Rolex's innovations that made them one of the most respected and well-known of all luxury brands. These innovations include their famous "Oyster" case — the world's first water resistant and dustproof watch case, invented in 1926 — and their "Perpetual" — the first reliable self-winding movement for wristwatches launched in 1933. They would form the foundation for Rolex's Datejust and Day-Date, respectively introduced in 1945 and 1956, but also importantly for their sports watches, such as the Explorer, Submariner and GMT-Master launched in the mid-1950s.

    One of its most famous models is the Cosmograph Daytona. Launched in 1963, these chronographs are without any doubt amongst the most iconic and coveted of all collectible wristwatches. Other key collectible models include their most complicated vintage watches, including references 8171 and 6062 with triple calendar and moon phase, "Jean Claude Killy" triple date chronograph models and the Submariner, including early "big-crown" models and military-issued variants.

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Ref. 6241
A highly important, very rare, and exceptional yellow gold chronograph wristwatch with Paul Newman 'John Player Special' dial and bracelet

Circa 1969
37.5mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement and clasp signed

$600,000 - 1,200,000 

Sold for $1,240,000

Contact Specialist

Paul Boutros

Head of Watches, Americas

+1 (212) 940-1293


The 2021 New York Watch Auction

New York Auction 11 - 12 December 2021