‘Lemon Paul Newman’ 6264 Rolex Daytona

Lemon normally describes a defect, but in Paul Newmans it’s anything but, it’s seven figures to start. Blame the Italians. The 6262 and 6264 will be known to collectors as the transition reference Daytonas; the 6264 is quite uncommon in its own right. The pair of Cosmographs introduced the Valjoux 727 and its higher beat rate, the last of the pump-pushers before they started screwing down. In that regard, it’s the end of a legacy of Rolex chronographs. But this isn’t just a 6264 Paul Newman, it’s a Lemon, an almost non-existent mythical configuration of Paul Newman dial of which fewer than a dozen are known. It’s the sort of ‘Once Upon a Time in Shaolin’ of Daytona. To all intents and purposes, they may as well have made one.

It all starts with a lemon grené dial, just a shade off creme and matte, paired with white Art Deco subdial numerals; this duo a dead giveaway to those with a trained eye. The JPS is arguably more famed, but lemon dials 6264s are lesser seen, fewer than a dozen known to the market. In 6263 there are just 3, a few in 6241 (no one seems quite certain). Gold PN 6264s are hen’s teeth in totality, with total estimates of known examples in the 10-15 range depending on who you ask. And then those are split between JPS and Lemon. This isn’t a limited production watch, remember this was just a Rolex in 1970. Things have changed, and we now recognize they barely made any. Lemon of JPS is preference, but gold PN pump pusher is rarified air to start.

What I find a bit strange about this ultra-high end Daytona world is just how insular it is. I know of probably a dozen people who realistically are both learned and financially able to bid on such a watch, most are names you’d know. And most of them know each other as well. Barring some Saudi royal family or Elon suddenly taking in interest in Daytona, it’s an amazingly tiny world when you get to the top. The ladder is so fraught and difficult to climb both financially and in terms of landmine examples that almost no one ever reaches its Zenith. This thing represents not just financial ability, but determination and true expertise. Hopefully, at least. Usually. Despite the Valjoux 727, make no mistake, this is a Zenith. This was probably the height for pump-pusher Daytona before Paul Newman’s Paul Newman existed, and in my head it still is.

This one is quite nearly perfect dial side, case has probably seen a light polish but it’s always a bit trick to tell from an image or two. Love the patina in the wide open lemon expanses of this one, a grainy grit of citrus. There’s almost no amount of money that someone who’s ready to dive into a lemon wouldn’t pay, so buckle up for a bidding war. The estimate tops at 1.2M, but the bids are not limited. Let’s see.