A Rose by Any Other Name – Uber Rare Rolex Daytona Surfaces at Phillips Hong KongBy Ross Povey
There is no escaping the power of the Daytona Perpetual. Where once it firmly sat in the shadows of its manually wound elders, the younger automatic chrono is coming out from the shadows and collectors are more widely beginning to take note of the incredible variation in models and references. The steel Zenith-era watches have been highly collectible for a number of years, but as the watch community looks to new avenues down which to explore, the precious metal watches and in-house calibre 4130 watches are also hotting up quicker than a sauna with a broken thermostat.
I’ve written pretty extensively before on the (so far) three out of the rumoured five examples of reference 16516 platinum Zenith-era Daytonas that have appeared at auction over the past few years. The latest housed a turquoise stone dial and sold for a staggering $3.1 million last month, which was actually just shy by $170k of the last 16516 with Lapis dial that sold for $3.27 million last year. The most recently sold Platona bears a canny resemblance to the reference 116519 Beach edition with turquoise stone dial that Rolex produced between 2000 and 2002. Arguably, the halo effect of the platinum watch has pushed Beach prices skyrocketing with two watch-only examples (without papers or the matching lizard skin box, notepad and wallet that they were originally sold with) selling this week and last at Sotheby’s for over $90k and $110k!
Phillips Hong Kong has just published the catalogue for the upcoming June sale and hidden amongst some very interesting watches is a yellow gold Daytona that is without question rare and quite possibly unique. I’m very fortunate to have some friends who are long-time Daytona Perpetual collectors and fanatics who quite often share some incredible watches with me. In this vein, a few weeks ago I received a couple of pics of a watch that I had only heard mention of once. That watch is now published in the new Phillips catalogue and what a great watch it is!
As I wrote here a while back, decoding the gem-set Daytona is essentially down to the stones and their colouring (mostly). The most common stone used for bezels is the sapphire and so the reference numbers of watches with a sapphire-set bezel tend to be followed by the letters ‘SA’ and then a colour code – eg SAFU, the ‘FU’ standing for fuchsia or SACO, where CO is for cognac. Pink sapphires have typically been classed as FU on Daytonas, until the Phillips watch which has rose-coloured sapphires in the bezel – so it’s a SARO. The other interesting thing about the watch is that it has the reference number 116598, which up until now was only known to have existed for the Leopard Daytona (116598 SACO) and the yellow gold Rainbow Daytona (116598 RBOW). Before the release of the Rainbow the penultimate ‘9’ in the reference referred to diamond-set fixed endlinks, a trademark of the precious metal Daytonas offered on leather strap.
This watch is essentially the same as the Leopard with a different dial, bezel colour and strap. The Leopard was released in 2005, but I’ve always noted with interest that a number of the watches have K serial numbers which dates the cases to 2001. The Phillips SARO has a P serial which demonstrates that these watches were being produced immediately as the brand switched to its in-house calibre 4130 in 2000. Every year, Rolex makes a small number of gem-set sports watches that are only shared with VIP retailers. This year it was an entirely diamond-set Skydweller with baguette-set bracelet and meteorite dial. In 2000, we can assume that this was one such watch, or it may have been a special order as there were similar Zenith-movement watches produced in the late 1990s. Either way, it’s always exciting to see something new pop out of the woodwork and as I’ve said before, I’m sure there is more from where this rose sprang.