Auction News

Swiss Alpine Rolex watch could scale auction heights


Rolex Daytona Alpine Research reference 6265

A super-rare Rolex made for Switzerland’s mountain research crews is one of the top items at a huge luxury watch sale in May. 

The watch is Rolex’s most famous racing chronograph, the Daytona, but made especially for the Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research.

Made around 1971, the watch (reference 6265) features a “panda” Paul Newman dial (Newman was a keen amateur racer and Rolex fan). 

It is engraved with the Alpine Research logo on the rear of its screw-down case. 

The “mystery cross” logo was deciphered in 2021. Image courtesy Sotheby’s.

Members of the Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research have scaled many of the world’s great peaks, including Mount Everest. 

The Foundation ordered watches from Rolex in the 1970s. The logo – the Swiss cross surrounded by ropes – baffled collectors, who dubbed these the “Mystery Cross” watches until 2021, when the secret was revealed by Perezscope. 

Only three of these watches have previously been sold, only one with the “panda” Paul Newman dial. 

It is listed at Sotheby’s May 12 Important Watches Part 1 sale in Geneva.

With an estimate of £220,000 to £440,000 it is one of the highest-rated items. 

Top of the pile at this sale are a 2014 Richard Mille prototype of a carbon skeletonised tourbillon wristwatch and a Patek Philippe perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with moon phases from 1964, retailed by Tiffany & Co. Both are predicted to realise around £1 million. 

Luxury watches have shown incredible returns in recent years. 

Richard Mille watches can carry price tags in the millions straight from the maker. 

Used watches are hardly any less expensive, and the pre-owned market has boomed as impatient buyers encounter the long waiting lists of the most exclusive makers. 

Rolex Daytonas are a collectors’ favourite. 

A piece owned by Paul Newman, with a dedication from his wife, Joanne Woodward, realised $17.8 million in 2017. 

All Rolexes and all Daytonas are rare. The “Paul Newman” Daytona racing watches have only six references – 6239, 6241, 6262, 6263, 6264, 6265 – and attract huge interest from collectors and investors. 

The results of this sale will be an interesting barometer of the state of the market in 2024. 

Just Collecting