USA Today – Collector World – OM Magazine Issue 24

I am reading my own take on Pucci Papaleo’s book “the ultimate Rolex Daytona” and I cas hardly understand what I wanted to say. What was I thinking? But also the other comments, most of them more illustrious then mine, appear just as vague. Tiny literary compositions posted with the mere goal of filling the page in graphically gracious way. Fortunately, extraordinary photographs of extraordinary objects, superbly laid out with the latest up to date printing technology, are there to make a real statement. These images testify the reality that, even limited to our small world, has become an unarguable phenomenon: the Rolex Daytona is today the most desired, collected and sought for of all “classic” timepieces ever manufactured. Last week I sold a stainless steel Daytona ref.6263 Paul Newman MK I dial, for about $200.000, the same price I paid for a first series Patek Philippe ref 2497 in 18k gold, an oversized, centered seconds perpetual calendar with moon phases from the early 1950s. When I first started dealing with vintage watches almost 25 years ago, to buy a Patek chronograph you would have needed eight, maybe ten steel Rolex 6263 Newman’s. The collectors, aficionado, is ready to invest on what his culture and knowledge allow him to understand. It seems now imaginable that, one day, a coca cola bottle form 1866 will sell for more money than a magnum Chateau Mouton Rothshield: it would be the logical evolution of the brand becoming as or more important than the product itself, and, if coca cola represent today the concept itself of soft drinks, it is out of the question that Rolex iconizes the quintessence of the luxury Swiss watch. My first important watch was a Rolex Daytona ref.6241 in stainless steel, I purchased in Atlanta back in 1982. It was also the most affordable Rolex watch on the pre-owned market: the $390 I paid for it wouldn’t be sufficient to buy a used Air-King. It featured a folded Oyster bracelet with 71N end links, that nowadays brings ten times the value as a spare part then the whole watch back in the day. At the time, most of the people who composed my social environment used to wear a Rolex Datejust in steel and gold with Jubilee bracelet or a yellow gold Day-Date on President bracelet, depending on their possibilities. I couldn’t afford any of that by far, and my Daytona was estimated by the local Rolex authorized dealers no more than $100,00 against the purchase of a new steel Precision Date, retailed at $ 570,00. Selling it eventually for $ 300,00, taking a loss of $ 90,00, was my very first and probably best ever watch deal of my career: the pain I experienced splitting from an object I had loved so deeply, and the burning frustration of learning, year after year, what a mistake – useless, I didn’t need that money – I had made by selling it, taught me to have faith in myself for the rest of my life, trusting my own taste and intuition rather than searching an illusory validation in the clichés shared by the mass. As far as I am concerned, that was my personal Rolex Daytona, Lesson One. Today, we are about to witness an event that could show the real burst of a phenomenon, or final part of a show that has been stretched too long. On one hand, an object, a watch that represents every passionate collector in the world, a true icon of taste, lifestyle, of being really “cool” for the last fifty years is duly celebrated; on the other, the object and its history is thoroughly explained, step by step, in its technical and historical evolution. So far, it’s all good. However, yet hoping that the market will welcome the event’s promoters’ knowledge and pure passion with significant bids, I also hope that prices wont’s go too far up from the price points that make this market a solid reality, encouraging the expectations of speculators: an offer of goods higher than the real demand, that is actually growing consistently, would bring in a deflation effect that wouldn’t certainly help the market itself. Let’s all wish that this auction be a great success, and that new enthusiasts join the already existing ones. Watches are proving more and more to be object of true cultural interest and solid investment. The Lesson One’s catalog offers extremely selected pieces of unarguable quality: all things that, at the right price, are worth buying. May the buyers at the next Geneva sale be focused and wise, so that this market will keep growing on solid, safe grounds.


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