The most expensive Rolex – What do R&B icon Rihanna, football beau David Beckham and talk show host Ellen Degeneres have in common? They all wear their favourite brand on their wrists. The Rolex – a brand at least as iconic as its wearers themselves. It stands for European excellence, a colourful success story and distinctive design. We at FIV Magazine have compiled a list of 11 of the most expensive Rolex masterpieces.
Paul Newman’s Daytona – $17.8 million
Rolex, you know this brand from the big Hollywood movies, from the most expensive music videos and of course from many Russian oligarchs. This manufacture needs no introduction, everyone knows the name Rolex. Its name has made it far beyond the borders of the watch and jewelry industry.
Rolex – a dazzling success story:
The origin of the Rolex brand is actually in London, where in 1905 the brothers-in-law Alfred Davis and Hans Wilsdorf founded their own company. Their goal: to import Swiss movements to England, to install them in the watch cases of other manufacturers and thus sell them to jewellers. Three years later the brand Wilsdorf and Davis became “Rolex” with its headquarters in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. Due to the First World War, Hans Wilsdorf left the company in 1919. The company moved to Geneva, where later in 1926 Wilsdorf produced the world’s first waterproof and dustproof wristwatch.
Despite initial scepticism on the part of buyers, the so-called “Oyster” became a success a year later, which did not stop in the decades to come. In the following decades, the brand established itself as a synonym for luxury and elegance through a series of various model releases. The “Rolex” brand redefined the watch landscape with each new edition that became a classic. It is the leading manufacturer of luxury watches worldwide and produces over 2,000 watches per day.
- Founded: 1905
- Founders: Alfred Davis and Hans Wilsdorf
- Place of incorporation: London
- Today’s headquarters: Geneva
- Turnover: USD 4.6 million
- Subsidiary: Gay Freres SA, Beyeler & Cie SA, Marconi Investment Sa
15 facts about Rolex
15 more incredible facts that every Rolex fan should know are available here in the video:
Hollywood legend Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona leads our list of the most expensive Rolex watches with a proud auction price of $17.8 million. More than 400 people traveled from all over the world to attend the New York auction at 57th and Park Avenue in October 2017. It took only 12 minutes to sell the watch to a bidder by phone. Paul Newman’s piece of jewellery thus set a new record: never before has a Rolex sold so highly at auction. By comparison, the Bao Dai Rolex, which sold for more than 5 million dollars in May, was previously considered the record holder. The record for the most expensive wristwatch in the world was held by a piece of jewellery by Patek Philippe Schiedsrichter from 1518, which was also auctioned by Phillips.
- Owner: Paul Newman’s
- Model: Rolex Daytona
- Selling price in dollars: $17.8 million
- Selling price in Euro: € 16.2 million
- Sold: October 2017
Rolex Daytona by Paul Newman
Known for his almost outrageously good looks and charisma, Paul Newman dominated cinema screens at the end of the 20th century. He was born on 26 January 1925 in Ohio, USA, the son of a housewife and a business owner. After he was kicked off his college football team, he finally turned to his original love: acting. His Broadway debut in 1953 was followed by television and film recordings in which he represented mainly anti-heroes. Until his death from cancer in September 2008, he also participated in philanthropic projects through his food company Newman’s Own.
Daytona Reference 626 Unicorn – $5.9 million
The Rolex Daytona Reference 626 Unicorn was last sold in 2018 for $5.9 million – no wonder when you know that this masterpiece is a one-of-a-kind. The Unicorn is still the only classic Rolex Cosmograph Daytona in white gold. It was sold by the famous Italian watch collector John Goldberger. The Unicorn was estimated to be worth 3 million dollars, but was eventually sold for almost twice that amount. Goldberger wants to donate the proceeds to the charity Children Action. Not only the unknown buyer, but also Aurel Bacs of Bacs & Russo, who conducted the auction in Geneva together with Philips, is delighted with the auction: “We are delighted with this historic result and this philanthropic gesture and are delighted about the lasting benefit that the sale of this watch will bring to so many children”.
- Owner: Daytona Reference 626 Unicorn (1971)
- Selling price in dollars: $5.9 million
elling price in Euro: € 5.4 million
- Sold: May 2017
Bao Dai – $5.1 million
An unknown buyer bought the Bai Dai – a Rolex reference 6062 – at an auction in Geneva in May 2017. It is the most expensive and rarest watch model that Rolex made at that time. Compared to the other Rolex watches listed, it may have been auctioned for a low price, but the diamond markings on the even hours make it unique in the luxurious world of wristwatches. Their gold case and black dial also contribute to this. So currently only three models of this specification are known. Just as unique as the dial is their history: The Bao Dai changed hands only once in the past – in 2002 when it was sold by the Vietnamese family of the Nguyen dynasty for 235,ooo dollars.
- Owner: Bao Dai
- Selling price in dollars: $5.1 million
- Selling price in Euro: € 4.6 million
- Sold: May 2017
Antimagnetique Reference 4113 – $2.5 million
Touted as the most important watch in the catalogue, the Antimagnetique Reference 4113 was auctioned for 2.5 million dollars on 14 May 2016. Unlike the usual Rolex watches, this one is not covered by a precious metal, but by stainless steel. This auction was also conducted by the then newcomer to the world of watch auctions, Phillips in Geneva. This was a start-stop-reset auction. The estimates for the watch originally ranged from CHF 800,000 to CHF 1,600,000.
- Owner: Antimagnetique Reference 4113 (1942)
- Selling price in dollars: $2.5 million
- Selling price in Euro: €2.3 million
- Sold: May 2016
Marlon Brando’s Rolex GMT Master – $1.9 million
In December 20019 the hammer fell and a clock of undoubted cultural value was sold: The Rolex GMT-Master, worn by Hollwood actor Marlon Brando in the 1979 film ‘Apocalypse-Now’. Its sale was announced in July, but agents refused to speculate on any real price range. In the end, the jewelry was purchased by a buyer on the phone for nearly $2 million.
- Owner: Marlon Brando
- Model: Rolex GMT-Master
- Selling price in dollars: $1,952,000 million
- Sales price in Euro: €1.8 million
- Sold: December 2019
We have also provided footage of the auction for you:
Eric Clapton’s Rolex Cosmograph Daytona – $1.4 million per hour
The rare Rolex Reference 6232 “Oyster Albino” Cosmograph Daytona of the famous musician Eric Clapton was sold in May 2015 for more than 1.4 million dollars in Geneva. Its silver dial with the same coloured silver-plated chronograph totaliser dials makes every collector’s heart beat faster, making it one of the most sought-after pieces at the auction that day.
- Owner: Eric Clapton
- Model: “Oyster Albino” Cosmograph Daytona
- Selling price in dollars: $1.4 million
- Selling price in Euro: € 1.3 million
- Sold: May 2015
Jack Nicklaus Rolex Day-Date – $1.2 million
One of the most important watches in sports history was auctioned in Geneva in December 2019 by Phillips in cooperation with Bacs & Russo for just over a million dollars. The watch was once a gift from Rolex personally to golf legend Jack Nicklaus and accompanied him every step of his legendary sporting career.
- Owner: Jack Nicklaus
- Model: Day-Date
- Selling price in dollars: $1,220,000 million
- Sales price in Euro: € 1,111,060 million
- Sold: December 2019
GMT Master II Ice – $485,350
One of the most expensive watches that Rolex ever made is currently adorning the wrist of football legend Christino Ronaldo. He purchased it for an impressive $485,350. The white-gold watch is entirely set with precious stones and the dial features a wave pattern of diamonds and gold.
- Owner: Christiano Ronaldo
- Model: GMT Master II Ice
- selling price in dollars: $ 485,350
- selling price in Euro: € 442.010
- Sold: 2020
James Bond Rolex Submariner – $365,000
Another watch with cult status is the Submariner – worn by Sir Roger Moore during the shoot for James Bond. Although it has been modified to such an extent that it no longer shows the time correctly, it bears an autograph of the actor on the back. It was auctioned in Geneva in November 2015.
- Owner: Roger Moore
- Model: Submariner (1972)
- Selling price in dollars: $ 365,000.
- selling price in Euro: € 265.000
- Sold: Novemeber 2015
Platinum Diamond Pearlmaster – $277,850
In 2011 Rolex launched the Platinum Diamond Pearlmaster. Retail price 277,850 dollars. This piece of jewelry is part of the Day-Date Collection, made with meteorite diamonds.
- Model: Diamond Pearlmaster
- selling price in dollars: $ 277,850
- selling price in Euro: € 253.039
- Sold: March 2011
The classic 1967 Rolex Submariner was sold at auction in 2019 for $234,000 – the highest price ever paid for a Rolex at the time. In the past, the piece of jewellery was worn by acting legend Steve McQueen.
- Owner: Steve McQueen (1967)
- Model: Submariner
- Selling price in dollars: $234,000
- Selling price in Euro: €213.000
- Sold: 2009
The Rolex – an undisputed status symbol of the beautiful, the rich and those who want to become rich. Those who like to be on time and at the same time trump with their wrist can of course also fall back on somewhat cheaper alternatives such as Daniel Wellington or Swatch.
Auction & Auction
Where are the most expensive watches auctioned? Graff Jewerly – Tracking down the most valuable diamonds is part of their job. If you find a big diamond, you can get rich in one fell swoop. Isn’t there? Yes, there is! The L’Incomparable Diamond necklace contains one of the most valuable diamonds in the world. The necklace is worth $55 million with the L’Incomparable diamond, because it is the largest, inside flawless diamond in the world. Hard to believe, but it was. A little girl discovered the stone amidst the rubble of the mines. In 1980…
- Read on: Graff Jewelry