View full screen - View 1 of Lot 220. Reference 6241 Daytona Paul Newman 'John Player Special'  A yellow gold chronograph wristwatch, Circa 1968.


Reference 6241 Daytona Paul Newman 'John Player Special' A yellow gold chronograph wristwatch, Circa 1968


500,000 - 1,000,000 USD

Property of the Original Owner



Reference 6241 Daytona Paul Newman 'John Player Special' A yellow gold chronograph wristwatch, Circa 1968

Reference 6241 Daytona Paul Newman 'John Player Special' A yellow gold chronograph wristwatch, Circa 1968


500,000 - 1,000,000 USD

Lot sold:



Reference 6241 Daytona Paul Newman 'John Player Special'

A yellow gold chronograph wristwatch, Circa 1968

Dial: black, Paul Newman John Player Special

Caliber: cal. 722-1 mechanical, 17 jewels

Case: 14k yellow gold, personally inscribed screw down case back

Case number: 2'084'276

Size: 38 mm diameter

Signed: case, dial and movement

Box: yes

Papers: yes

Accessories: Rolex presentation box with outer packaging, service box, Guarantee booklet dated May 30, 1972, service booklets, instructions manual, service warranty dated May 14, 1996, service warranty March 22, 1991, and service invoice dated June 21, 1996

Case: The case is good condition with light signs of wear and polishing. The case back has a personally engraving that reads 'To Jim Roberts on Graduation 6-5-72 From Mother and Dad'. The inscription is discernable but the case back has been previously polished. The inside case back has watchmaker's marks and is stamped 6541. The serial and reference number between the lugs are legible. The bezel insert is replaced. Please note that the strap and buckle are generic and not signed Rolex.

Dial: The dial is in overall very good condition with some losses to the luminous material at 3 and 9 o'clock which is common for these watches.


Movement: The movement is running at time of cataloging, however it was not tested for the accuracy of time or duration of the power reserve and may need service at the buyer's discretion. Please note that Sotheby's does not guarantee the future working of the movement.

The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The online condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance purposes only. The images of the lot also form part of the online condition report for the lot provided by Sotheby's. Any reference to condition in the online condition report does not amount to a full description of condition. The online condition report may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the online condition report of the lot or shown in the online images of the lot (for example, the online condition report may not specify mechanical replacements or imperfections to the movement, case, dial, pendulum, separate base(s) or dome). Watches in water-resistant cases have been opened to examine movements but no warranties are made that the watches are currently water-resistant. The online condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation but rather the online condition report is a statement of subjective, qualified opinion (for example, information regarding colour, clarity and weight of gemstones are statements of opinion only and not statements of fact). Please also note that we do not guarantee the authenticity of any individual component parts, such as wheels, hands, crowns, crystals, screws, bracelets and wrist bands, since subsequent repairs and restoration work may have resulted in the replacement of original parts. In addition, certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot (for example, the online images may represent colours and shades which are different to the lot's actual colour and shades). For these reasons, the online condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. Prospective buyers should also refer to the Buying at Auction guide which includes important notices concerning the type of property in this sale. In particular, please note it is the purchaser's responsibility to comply with any applicable import and export matters, particularly in relation to lots incorporating materials from endangered species. Please be advised that wristbands made of materials derived from endangered or otherwise protected species (i.e. alligator and crocodile) are not sold with the watches and are for display purposes only. We reserve the right to remove these bands prior to shipping. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.

For passionate scholars and collectors of vintage Rolex, it’s the manufacturing variances employed by the watchmaker in the production of their most celebrated references which make the iconic brand’s timepieces such a joy to immerse oneself in. These subtle yet significant variances speak to the brand’s continual commitment to evolution and innovation, while also ensuring there will never be a dull moment for collectors choosing to focus their efforts on single models. With nearly six decades behind the Daytona, its dedicated collectors are in continual celebration of the professional chronograph’s many compelling forms, but few are more sought after than those fitted with scarce variants of the exotic Paul Newman dial. Among the most visually striking is the famed John Player Special Daytona, representing not only an aspirational apogee of vintage Rolex collecting, but one of important watch collecting as a whole.

Affectionately named for its resemblance to the black and gold livery of John Player Special sponsored Team Lotus cars of the 1970s, this watch evokes the excitement and boundary-pushing opulence of Formula One racing in unmistakable style. This holy grail tier variant of an already rare watch is characterized by the pairing of a black and gold contrasted Paul Newman dial with a yellow gold case, and was naturally produced in limited numbers, yielding a rarity within a rarity of sorts. With the total production of reference 6241 Daytonas amounting to roughly 3000 examples over the course of just three years, it’s estimated that only an exceedingly small fraction of these watches were both cased in gold and fitted with black Paul Newman dials, explaining the exceptional infrequency with which fresh to market examples surface.

Furthering this example’s anomalistic nature is its execution in 14K yellow gold, confirming the market it was originally delivered to, and contextualizing the factors once guiding watch design. Due to the higher taxation of 18K gold watches entering the United States in the period, Rolex responded through the production of lower karat cases for the Daytona. As regards the reference 6241, fewer than 400 examples are believed to have been cased in 14K gold, and with only a handful of 14K John Player Special Daytonas having surfaced in recent years, one can only imagine just how few times such watches were produced by Rolex. Needless to say, the rarity of this optimally configured and enormously important chronograph cannot be understated.

Though indeed synonymous with race car driving in more ways than one, it’s important to note how in addition to originally marketing the Cosmograph Daytona to motorsports enthusiasts, Rolex also promoted its usefulness amongst amateur sailors, along with professional navigators and pilots. Such campaigns, along with the watchmaker’s designation as the “Official Timepiece of Pan American World Airways” surely resonated with the present example’s original American owner – a professional pilot whose high-flying career spanned nearly 35 years.

Given to the original owner by his parents on June 5th, 1972, this exceptionally grand gift marked both the earning of his pilot’s license in 1971, along with his date of graduation in 1972, which is endearingly engraved on the gold chronograph’s caseback. Making its uniquely exciting, brand ethos-aligned past all the more compelling is the fact that the watch was relied upon as a trusted companion throughout the majority of the professional pilot’s career, until eventually being retired from regular wear in 1996. This affords the important watch a high-flying provenance aligned with the brand’s ethos of ensuring impeccable performance and tasteful aesthetics all while under the pressure of demanding professional applications.

Combining one of Rolex’s absolute greatest designs with especially thrilling provenance, this outstanding example of the John Player Special Daytona is a timepiece of monumental importance and a nonpareil to no end. It’s unlikely to ever again encounter a Rolex Daytona of this variety, caliber, and condition, with such intrepid professional provenance.