The ongoing pandemic has caused many businesses to shift to an online environment, with workers convening for meetings, coffee breaks, and even company happy hours within the context of a Zoom session. Everybody’s had to adapt, so it’s not completely surprising that we’ve seen online auctions, which have been around for some time, grow in prominence and set new records of their own.
Earlier today in London, for the third time since April, Sotheby’s broke its own record for a watch sold in an online auction when the 18-karat gold John Player Special ref. 6264 you see here sold for £1,215,000 including buyer’s premium (or $1,545,723). But that’s not all: This also marks the new record price for a Daytona John Player Special sold at auction, as well as the record for a watch auctioned in the United Kingdom.
Nicknamed after the ’70s-era John Player & Sons livery found on Lotus Formula One team cars, the Rolex John Player Special is one of the rarest and most desirable Rolex Daytona configurations one is likely to encounter. The ref. 6264 example we see here is the result of a number of converging degrees of rarity, and only a handful are known to exist. Of course, the majority of ref. 6264 Daytonas were produced in steel cases. According to Sotheby’s, only ten are known to have been made in 18-karat gold; a fraction of those are outfitted with a Paul Newman dial in black. This is a mega watch for mega collectors, of course, but the price paid was also mega. The pre-sale estimate was just £320,000-650,000 / $400,000-800,000.
The Sotheby’s sale was a single-lot online auction that ran for one week from July 24 to 31, attracting five bidders and 17 bids on the way to its record-breaking result.
Logistically, this auction season has unfolded in unusual ways that couldn’t have been predicted by anyone as recently as February. But if the recent record for an automatic Daytona set just three weeks ago and today’s result can be said to serve as any kind of barometer, it seems that top-level Rolex prices are holding strong. Even in the midst of unprecedented times, records are still being set.