Call Us Send Us a Message
Rolex Daytona Paul Newman

9 most expensive Rolex wristwatches

Rolex is the first brand that comes to mind whenever you think about high-end watch brands. Among all the Rolex watches, some are considered more valuable than others. With such high prices, you might have wondered what is the most expensive Rolex watch ever sold?

List of the 9 most expensive Rolex watches ever sold

Rolex watches have always been designed to offer a fusion of functionality and style. These high-end watches are desirable by watch enthusiasts and collectors alike for all the right reasons. Many even set buying them as a life goal and work hard to achieve the goal one day. Of course, such a  timepiece comes at a premium price. Rolex watches make use of the highest quality materials. While these watches are expensive, there are certain Rolex models that are beyond expensive due to certain facts.

Here, we have made the list of the 9 most expensive watches of Rolex that have ever been sold. All of these Rolex watches are being sold at auctions and got the highest bids of all time.

Cosmograph Daytona “Paul Newman”

Price: $15.5 million + buyer’s premium = $17,752,500
Date: October 2017

Rolex launched this edition of Cosmograph Daytona in 1963, and they continued the production till 1969. This Rolex Cosmograph Daytona has a slight touch of a funky and modern typeface. It has quite an exotic dial identified by its second’s path, which is present on the outer track. The specialty of this edition is that it has a different style with squarish 1-12 indices that are present in blocks.

This watch was gifted to Paul Newman by his wife, and then it came for auction in 2017. As the watch was owned by the famous Paul Newman and was one of the rare pieces of Rolex, that is why it was sold for a jaw-dropping price of $17.75 million. This watch didn’t get much attention until it was owned by Paul Newman. One reason it was sold at such a high price is that among all the watch collectors, this edition was referred to as the Holy Grail since it was very difficult to find.

Cosmograph Daytona “Unicorn”

Price: $6.5 million
Date: May 2018

Rolex launched all the Cosmograph Daytona watches in the year 1963. All of Daytona’s designs present at this time have been designed in 1963 and have not been changed much yet. As for Cosmograph Daytona Unicorn, it has one special element. The remarkable thing is that Rolex made it customized only for one lucky customer. Even though the production of these watches ended in 1969, Rolex produced it in 1970 for a German retailer on his special request.

It has stainless steel that costs around $70,000. Another specialty of this watch is that it has 18 carats of white gold. It was owned by John Goldberger, who is the world’s rarest watch collector and has a vast collection. He presented this edition of the watch for auction as he wanted money for charity. As a result, this watch was sold as the second most expensive Rolex watch ever sold.

Bao Dai

Rolex 6062 Bao Dai

Price: $5.06 million
Date: May 2017

The history of this Rolex watch is quite different than the others. In 1954, in Geneva, there was an Indochina war going on. The future of Vietnam was at stake, and the world powers were deciding about it in a meeting in Switzerland. During the break in the meeting, Bao Dai steps out of the room to get some fresh air. There he went to the nearest Rolex store and asked for the rarest and most precious Rolex ever made. He didn’t like any pieces presented to him, so Rolex found the ref.6062 in yellow gold, and they dispatched it to him.

This piece is not only unique but has a history attached to it. Bao Dai was the last emperor of Vietnam, and his favorite Rolex watch was sold at a high price of 5.06 million.

Cosmograph Daytona “The Legend”

Highest Price: $3.7 million
Date: May 2017

Cosmograph Daytona ref. 6263 is one of the Rolex watches that is a part of Paul Newman’s collection. It has a lemon green dial that is not often found as a standard color in watch dials. It further has contrasting dials, outer seconds track, and bezel, all in black color to make a contrast. It was sold in auction at $3.7 million.

This watch has the particular “Rolex Oyster font” without any serifs present in all the other Cosmograph signature watches. This confirms that the watch is a part of the earliest batch of this edition. There is also a difference in the name as this is signed as “Rolex Oyster Cosmograph” rather than “Rolex Cosmograph Oyster,” which is marked in all other editions. It was sold for $3.7 million, making it the third most expensive Rolex watch ever sold.

Cosmograph Daytona “The Neanderthal”

Rolex Daytona watch with black sub-dials

Highest Price: $3.01 million
Date: May 2018

The edition of Cosmograph Daytona ref. 6240 was launched in 1965 and had the features of stainless steel displayed in the tachymeter. It has the title of being the first wristwatch with a screw-down chronograph pusher. This piece also included the color theme that is not found in any other watches from the house of Rolex. It is the collection of that time when exotic dials were not a thing, and Rolex was experimenting with unique design codes.

This is the edition that came out before Paul Newman’s Daytona. It includes little oversized subdials that give the watch an overall remarkable look. While looking at this watch, the first thing you will note is the Rolex wordmark and the coronet. This edition was the first with the water-resistant oyster case among all the other Cosmograph Daytona.

4113 Split-Seconds

Price: $2.6 million
Date: November 2019

Rolex watches have the different case and dial sizes. This watch has the largest case size of 44mm, and it is the largest one ever produced by Rolex. It also has the caliber 55 VBR with the chronograph movement and has some split seconds complications that complete its overall look. They were made in the 1940s, and Rolex declared that they only made 12 of them and never sold them commercially. They were designed only to gift to some of the famous people of that time, such as members of the racing teams.

These watches are now only found among the members and the families of racing groups. Only one of them has been auctioned, and if one of them emerges in the market again, it will surely have some very high prices.

GMT Master “Apocalypse Now”

Price: $1.95 million
Date: November 2019

This watch was released in August 1979. This particular product was found in the wrist of Marlon Brando, an Academy Award winner. Brando wore it on several special occasions, such as in Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” movie. The watch gained attention in that movie as Brando wore it the entire time. After this, it was assumed that the watch had gone missing. It remained in Brando’s possession till 1995, and then he gifted it to his daughter. It only came to the screen after the 40th anniversary of the movie, when it was auctioned. One special feature of this watch was that Brando engraved “M. Brando” at the back of the watch with his own hands.

Cosmograph Daytona “John Player Special”

Rolex Daytona John Player edition

Price: $1.54 million
Date: July 2020

Compared to other watches, this watch was sold at a much lower price, but it is the only watch that broke many records such as:

– The most expensive Rolex watch that is sold in an online auction
– The record for the highest-priced watch that is sold in the UK.

This was auctioned online during the time of Covid. Rolex only made 10 of the ref. 6264 Daytonas which has 18k gold in it, and it is one of those ten watches.

In 2013, there was not even a single Daytona watch worthy of even one million. Just one entry of the Daytona watch, owned by Paul Newman, into the market rose the entire competition and the prices of these watches.

Day-Date “Jack Nicklaus”

Price: $1.22 million
Date: 2019

Day-Date ref. 1803 was officially launched in the year 1956, and after the launch, it became the most desirable luxury watch of that time. The watch gained much attention again in 2019 and was sold for a breathtaking price of $1.22 million. There is one fact that makes this watch to be far more special when compared to other watches. This watch was gifted by the brand Rolex itself to the golfer Jack Nicklaus in 1967. Before selling it, Jack himself said that he wore this particular watch to all his masters’ tournaments, open championships, PGA championships, and countless other events. He wore it for almost five decades and treated it as his lucky charm. It was auctioned in 2019 and was sold for a whopping $1.22 million.

Conclusion of the most expensive Rolex wristwatches ever sold

These are the top 9 Rolex watches that have ever been sold at such a high price. Apart from being a Rolex watch, all of these watches have a story attached to them that also played a part in increasing the price. Till now Cosmograph Daytona is the most expensive Rolex watch that has ever been sold. There are chances that in the near future there will be more editions that will be auctioned at a much higher price as compared to Cosmograph Daytona.

Written By

Ewan Cole

Ewan Cole is a watch journalist and consultant who has worked in the industry for over a decade. He splits his time between his hometown of London and the United Arab Emirates, writing about luxury watches for a dozen or so websites. He also speaks at numerous events on a regular basis.

You May Also Like

You Might Be Interested In

Find a watch you own

In Demand Brands
Rolex logo
Patek Philippe
Audemars Piguet logo
Rhichard Mille logo
Hublot logo
Omega logo

Browse our catalogue

Deal of The Week

2020

Hublot Spirit of Big Bang King Gold Blue Dial Diamond-set Bezel

AED 59,900

year of production: 2020

condition: unworn

Buy Now

Your Wishlist

    Your wishlist is currently empty. Add something and check back again.