The Unicorn – the only known white gold manual-winding Rolex Daytona wristwatch – will auction at Phillips in Geneva.
The ref 6265 will highlight the auctioneer’s May 12 sale dedicated to Rolex Daytonas – that most sporty and historic of the brand’s offerings. The timepiece is expected to make more than $3m – a testament to its unique nature, and the value of Rolex Daytonas on the private market.
Phillips’ sale follows its groundbreaking $17.8m auction of actor Paul Newman’s own Rolex “Paul Newman” Cosmograph Daytona last year. That figure set a new world record for a wristwatch at auction, smashing the $11m set by a Patek Philippe ref 1518 earlier in 2017.
Phillips will be hoping the 2017 sale has resulted in an upward re-evaluation for other Rolex Daytonas.
Rolex produced the Unicorn in 1970 or 1971 as a special order for a retailer in Germany.
Phillips specialist Arthur Touchot comments: “Our best guess, based on other unique pieces that have resurfaced, is that it was a special order, placed on behalf of one of the boutique’s most exclusive clients – someone with means, obviously, and enough influence that Rolex would deviate from its modus operandi.
“We don’t know why Rolex decided to deliver this piece, or if any others like it exist."
Owned by watch collector John Goldberger since 2008, this is the first time it has been offered at auction. All proceeds will go to the Children Action charity.
The Daytona Ultimatum sale will also feature a yellow gold “John Player Special” ref 6241. It’s expected to make up to $1m.