Rolex JPS Daytona 18k Gold Watch Fetches £1.215m at Sotheby’s and Sets Record of Most Expensive Watch Sold Online

The record for a watch sold in an online auction has once again been broken. The Rolex Ref. 6264 Daytona JPS 18k gold realised a staggering £1.215m in a Sotheby’s London single-lot online sale, setting the auction record of the most expensive watch sold online. It also marks a new record for a wristwatch sold in the UK as well as a Daytona JPS.

Sotheby’s recently held their £149m 'Rembrandt to Richter' sale in real-time online where auctioneer Oliver Barker was seen sporting the Rolex Ref. 6264 Daytona. The audience could hardly ignore that glistening 18k watch on Barker’s wrist, and looking at the price that the watch achieved, the product placement was surely a success. 

Rolex Ref.6264 Daytona JPS 18K gold wristwatch|Price realised: £1.215m

Auctioneer Oliver Barker was seen sporting the JPS Daytona in Sotheby’s auction

The Ref. 6264 is made with 18k gold, forming an intense contrast with its black dial. It is one of the rarest Daytona watches of which only ten examples are known. 

The wristwatch was nicknamed ‘John Player Special’ (commonly known as the ‘JPS’) in reference to the livery of the Lotus Formula 1 painted in black with the gold JPS logo, in service from 1972 to 1986. The eye-catching colours of the watch attracted the attention of many Formula 1 fans.

The Daytona carried a pre-sale estimate of £320,000- 650,000. Its price soared through £600,000 on the first day of the sale and received in total 17 bids during the 7-day sale. In the end, it sold for a whopping £1.215m, a price far above its estimate. The auction house revealed that 5 collectors competed for the watch. 

The black dial forms a stark contrast with the gold 

The wristwatch was made with 18k gold

The Lotus Formula 1 painted in black with the gold JPS logo

The watch’s success is due in no small part to the advertising strategy that Sotheby’s used. Sotheby’s live auction ‘Rembrandt to Ritcher’ was specifically held on a night during the period of the watch’s online sale. All eyes were on the mixed-category sale as it presented 65 works spanning 500 years of art history, from categories including Old Masters, Impressionist & Modern Art, Modern British Art and Contemporary Art. Works by celebrated artists like Rembrandt, Richter, Joan Miró and Picasso were on offer at the sale and generated a total of £149m. 

It was difficult to keep one’s eyes off the JPS which auctioneer Oliver Barker 'modeled' while orchestrating the sale. When presenting Rembrandt’s self-portrait, a highly-anticipated lot, the camera lens zoomed into the watch for its solo close-up shots. 

The camera lens at one point in the sale focused on the watch 

Nevertheless, the watch had sold for a record-breaking price which is a significant achievement in the present climate. In fact, Sotheby’s had set a few auction records in their online watch sales since the pandemic started. 

In April, a rare Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5711P platinum wristwatch became the most expensive watch sold in an online sale when it was sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong’s 'Watches Weekly' sale for HK$3.75m (US$483,867). 

Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5711P platinum wristwatch|Price realised: HK$3.75m

Ultra-complicated gold double dialled perpetual calendar clock watch by Dent London|Price realised: CHF800,000 

Rolex Ref. 16516 platinum chronograph with lapis lazuli hardstone dial|Price realised: HK$25.4m 

And in June, Sotheby’s Geneva sold an ultra-complicated, gold double dialled perpetual calendar clock watch by Dent London which was made in around 1904 for CHF800,000 (US$873,976) at their 'Masterworks of Time: Abraham Louis Breguet, Horologist Extraordinaire' sale. 

Today, the Rolex Ref. 6264 JPS Daytona wristwatch has sold for a price almost double the last auction record. Sotheby’s had also previously sold the one-and-only Daytona Ref.16516 platinum chronograph with lapis lazuli hardstone dial during their Hong Kong sale week in July, setting the record of the most expensive automatic chronograph ever sold. 

As seen in recent online and live auctions, the watch industry continues to thrive despite the current economic downturn. It also suggests that collectors have adapted to the switch from bidding in live auctions to bidding online. 

The most expensive watch sold in an online auction

Rolex Ref.6264 Daytona John Player Special 18K gold wristwatch

Made in: 1969
Diameter: 37mm
Case number: 2'357'405

Estimate: £320,000 - 650,000
Price realised: £1,215,000