The word ‘Rolex’ is synonymous with luxury and reliability. Rolex is known around the world for its incredibly expensive watches. The Swiss watchmaker has been around since 1905, when Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred David founded it. Rolex is the go-to watch for the uber-rich celebrities, entrepreneurs, politicians, and businesspeople. We all know that Rolex timepieces are expensive. Here we look at the top 10 most expensive Rolex watches ever sold.
Top 10 most expensive Rolex watches ever sold
What makes Rolex watches so expensive is the materials they use and the craftsmanship that goes into making. And they are so reliable that people who own them can pass these timepieces on to their next generations. Each Rolex timepiece is hand-crafted by some of the best gemologists in the world. Even the gold used in Rolex watches is manufactured by the company’s in-house foundry.
10- Paul Newman’s 1969 Rolex Daytona
Some of the world’s top 10 most expensive Rolex watches are associated with legendary actor Paul Newman. The Daytona watches are among the most popular Rolex timepieces today. They first gained popularity when Paul Newman started sporting them. The 1969 Daytona has the iconic white ‘Paul Newman’ dial, an acrylic bezel, and push-down chronograph buttons. It commands a price of $1.1 million.
9- 1950 Rolex Sleeping Beauty
This beauty was sold for $1.14 million at Christie’s New York back in 2013. It was originally nicknamed Padellone, meaning Big Frying Pan in Italian. Only 100 pieces of the Sleeping Beauty were ever made, and very few of them exist today. Its moon phase display and complicated features give it a unique and timeless look.
8- 1942 Rolex Chronograph
It is one of the rarest Rolex watches in the world. Only 12 of them were ever made. It has a nickel finish with 17 jewels, baton numerals, and pink gold finish. Thanks to the rarity of this watch, it was auctioned at $1.16 million, twice its estimated value.
7- 1949 Rolex Oyster Perpetual
The 1949 Rolex Oyster Perpetual is one of the rarest and oldest models in the series. It was auctioned for $1.22 million in 2014 at a Christie’s event in Geneva. It has an antique cloisonné enamel dial that enhances its beauty.
6- Eric Clapton’s 1971 Rolex Daytona Albino
The 1971 Rolex Daytona Albino was once owned by Eric Clapton, who purchased it in the 1990s. It was sold for a staggering $1.4 million at a Phillips auction in Geneva in 2015, making it one of the top 10 most expensive Rolex watches ever. Back in 2003, it was auctioned by Sotheby’s in New York for just $505,000. The Eric Clapton watch carries the Reference 6263. It’s unique in that it is one of the only four watches with silvered chronograph totalizers in the same color as the silvered dial. Now you know how it earned the ‘Albino’ moniker.
5- Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona Oyster Sotto
One more Paul Newman Daytona among the world’s top 10 most expensive Rolex watches. Carrying Reference 6239, it was sold in 2016 at a Phillips auction event for $1.95 million. The numbers were quite surprising because the Daytona Oyster Sotto wasn’t a success when Rolex released them.
4- 1942 Rolex Antimagnetique Split-Seconds Chronograph 4113
The Antimagnetique Reference 4113 from 1942 was sold for $2.45 million at a Phillips auction in Geneva. The Antimagnetique is the largest Rolex timepiece ever made, making it unique in its own way. This model was never made available to the public. It was exclusively given to a small group of racing drivers. There are only about 12 of these 44mm split-seconds chronograph in existence. It has a stainless steel body with two sweep seconds hands.
3- 1958 Rolex GMT Master
The 1958 Rolex GMT Master was sold for $3.5 million at the Phillips auction in Geneva. What makes it so special is that it is made of 18K gold and has the Bakelite cognac-brown bezel. Each subsequent owner of this watch has preserved it in its original state without restoring this beauty. Most of the GMT Master watches were made of stainless steel, but this one has 18K gold.
2- Bao Dai Rolex
The royal Bao Dai Rolex timepiece was sold last year for an eye-popping $5.1 million at the Phillips Geneva watch auction. Made in the 1950s, it was owned by Bao Dai, the 13th and last monarch of Vietnam. Its value has skyrocketed from 2002, when it was auctioned for a meager $235,000. The watch features 18K yellow gold, triple calendar, and moon phase indicator. It also has a black dial and a set of diamond markers.
1- Paul Newman’s 1968 Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
The crown for the world’s most expensive Rolex watch ever goes to Paul Newman’s 1968 Cosmograph Daytona. It was sold for $17.8 million at last year’s Phillips auction in New York to an anonymous phone bidder. The watch was gifted to Newman by his wife Joanne Woodward, who had purchased it from a Tiffany & Co store in New York in 1968. Woodward had “drive carefully” engraved on it while the actor was getting into motor racing. Paul Newman wore it for 15 years before gifting it to his daughter’s then-boyfriend James Cox in 1984.
These are the top 10 most expensive Rolex watches ever sold. I certainly cannot afford any of them. Even if I had the money to buy one of them, I’d rather keep the money in bonds and high-interest savings accounts than buying Rolex watches.