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The Allure of Rolex: The World’s Most Powerful Watch Brand Outperforms at Auction

Auction house Phillips, in Association with Bacs & Russo, sold $7.8-million worth of Rolex watches in a special Rolex-themed sale in Hong Kong recently, setting a record for the highest price paid for a Rolex at a sale in Asia: $1,015,732 for a stainless steel Ref. 8171 “Padellone,” a triple-calendar watch with a moon phase display. The watch is a rare Rolex complication that was made only for a few years in the 1950s in very small numbers. A few days later, at the $7.1-million sale of Sotheby’s Sale of Important Watches in New York City, several Rolex pieces sold for well above their estimates, including two “Paul Newman” Daytona models for $275,000 and $212,000, and a rare yellow gold triple calendar complication for $168,000. Both watches were originally sold in the 1960s.

Rolex 823

Phillips/Bacs & Russo sold the stainless steel Rolex Ref. 8171 “Padellone,” a triple-calendar watch with a moon phase display, sold for $1,015,732, a record for a Rolex watch at auction in Asia.

What makes Rolex fans keep coming back, year after year, and why do they pay so much for pre-owned watches? “Rolex is without a doubt, the most powerful brand in watches,” says Paul Boutros, head of watches for the Americas at Phillips/Bacs & Russo. “Across all collectible watch brands, Rolex was and is the best selling amongst them, having sold more watches than all others by far. Its fame and success, 100 years after its founding, is a result of the exceptionally high quality of their watches and the enduring appeal of their designs,” he says.

9593 Rolex, Ref 6241 Case 2084242 'Paul Newman' Daytona Circa 1968 (lot 169)212,500

Ref 6241 Case 2084242 ‘Paul Newman’ Daytona Circa 1968 (lot 169)212,500
Yellow gold Rolex Ref. 6241 chronograph with tachometer “Paul Newman” Daytona, circa 1968, sold for $212,500 at the Sotheby’s Important Watches Auction on December 7 in New York City.

 

Rolex 816 Stella

The Rolex “Stelline” reference 6062 triple calendar moon phase watch sold for $660,650 at the Phillips/Bacs & Russo sale “Rolex Milestones: 38 Legendary Watches That Shaped History.”

Rolex makes a lot of watches – just under a million per year – and that is part of what contributes to the brisk trade in pre-owned models. There are a lot of great Rolexes in circulation, and many more great new ones coming onto the market, giving collectors a reason to trade. “The sheer quantity produced certainly contributes today to the number of collectors looking for Rolex watches, which for our clients, I estimate to be three to four times more than any other brand,” says Boutros. “With so many historic models, each with many subtle variations, fans of vintage Rolex watches find them fascinating and intellectually stimulating to collect. Vintage Rolex sport watches in particular are especially sought after due to their relatively large sizes – perfect for today’s tastes – and because they are so easy to wear. Since they were so robustly built, unlike finely finished dress or complicated watches, collectors do not have to pamper them when worn.”

835ref 6263

The Ref. 6263, a stainless steel chronograph with Oyster Sotto dial and bracelet, sold for $752,776 at the Phillips/Bacs & Russo sale “Rolex Milestones: 38 Legendary Watches That Shaped History.”

9593 Rolex, Yellow Gold Automatic Triple Calendar Wristwatch With Moon‐Phases, Ref 6062 (lot 81) 168,000

Yellow Gold Automatic Triple Calendar Wristwatch With Moon‐Phases, Ref 6062 (lot 81) 168,000
A rare yellow gold automatic Rolex triple calendar with moon phase, Ref. 6062, sold for $168,750 at the Sotheby’s Important Watches Auction on December 7 in New York City.

 

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