6241 ‘John Player Special’ Rolex Daytona
Auction season is wrapping up which means it’s time for me to sprinkle in some heavyweights to the mix of things. Now, just to be clear, I will not be talking about the insanely low estimates, undoubtedly ludicrous to-be-results, money laundering, chandelier bids, or any other ubiquitous auction argument angles. We’re here for watches and to watches we shall hold. This will be no chore, as Phillips have graced our catalogues with some absolute standouts, a few of which I’ll highlight here with my massive, market-moving (lol) platform. We’re starting at the height for me, because I would rather pretend the hypebeast Tiffany (Teal?) Blue Nautilus doesn’t exist.
John Player & Sons were a cigarette manufacture whose boxes were decorated in black and gold. In 1968, they made the historic decision to Sponsor the Lotus F1 Team. What resulted were some of the most aesthetically pleasing Formula One liveries of all time. The paint scheme was so attractive, in fact, that most people have forgotten about the cigarettes and simply refer to JPS as the series of Lotus cars. One, the 97/8T, was famously driven by one Ayrton Senna. High pedigree indeed (the partnership also gave him his first ever win).
So where do watches tie in? Well, you may have heard but there’s this thing called the Paul Newman Daytona. Good-‘ol-Paully-Boy’s-Wife Joanne chose the Daytona for its chronograph timekeeping abilities, as Mr Newman was an avid racing driver. So, when the Rolex collector discourse called for nickname for the 18k yellow gold 6241 Paul Newman Daytona, it was only natural that they turned to another icon of motorsport. There’s the name. Now the watch.
The 6241 is one of the titanic Rolex references of the last decade. This acrylic bezeled, pump pusher icon is rare in any guise. However, this example is both a high karat precious metal and an attractive, rare dial variant. There are a very limited number of examples circulating at an estimated production run around 3000 in all metals/dials. 18k and 14k gold examples exist. It is estimated that in 18k yellow gold, fewer than 300 examples exist. Of true JPS dials (which are the Paul Newman style), far less but unknown production.
This example is a standout not only for its rare and well-aged dial, but the case and original matched rivet bracelet. The case and bracelet are beginning to show small areas of oxidation, normal for the alloy. The dial is incredible with all tritium pips present, surrounded by a perfect acrylic bezel. All seems out of place. The only thing missing will be a bargain, as I don’t see this hammering anywhere less than the upper bound estimate.
Find this 6241 here as part of Phillips 2021 New York Watch Auction set to hammer 11 Dec (estimated 560K-1.12M CHF).