Every watch that comes into my life is a unique story – a mystery and a pleasure, but some pieces are simply more memorable than the rest.
Over the years I've had rare and remarkable watches arrive at Momentum, either for repairs, appraisal or trade, and some of them have been particularly hard for me to part with.
Anyone who reads my articles from time to time might guess – and rightly so – that my real passion is vintage Rolex, so perhaps it's no surprise that all three of these cherished watches have crowns on the dials.
The 1977 Day Date 'Salmon Stella dial' ref. 1803
The Day-Date always attracts a certain kind of personality. It is the watch for presidents, luminaries, high-power handshakes, and red carpet occasions. It is right at home at those elegant evening soirees, where the important conversations take place that shape the destiny of our world.
It is also a Rolex collector's dream to find a vintage Stella dial in such perfect condition. I was lucky to pick this one up from the original owner's son, who carefully took it out of a safe, where it had been resting for almost 25 years.
Probably the most collectible of all Day-Dates are ones fitted with lacquer "Stella" dials – because each one is unique – cracks, dots and scratches included. In this case, the rare and unusual Salmon color is the star attraction, and the condition is flawless. The tone contrasts beautifully with diamond and baguette markers, and incredibly, the lume pots are all present, and they match the hands, more than forty years down the line. The 18K white gold case is also exceptional, with crisp serial numbers, and the bracelet, although a bit short, is not bad either. It looked like the watch had never been opened. All in all – it's love at first sight, and there's just something about that Salmon dial that – well, it makes me smile.
Paul Newman 6264, White Dial
Rolex started making the "Paul Newman" Daytona back in the nineteen-sixties, and it was then called "the Rolex Cosmograph." At the time, this version of the dial with a white background and black sub-dials was not very popular – it was too 'exotic' for the tastes of the sixties and seventies. Believe it or not, these coveted Daytona's once used to sit on shelves, collecting dust.
But times change – and the perceived value of a watch changes along with the times.
All it took for this watch to climb the ladder of fame was a picture of Paul Newman wearing one, and the association got stuck permanently, making it so recognizable and memorable – not to mention valuable.
Today, this watch is one of the most talked about vintage Rolexes on the market, and the 6264 is scarce, so therefore, ultimately desirable. The Daytona is in a league of its own among collectors, and the reference 6264 is my favorite. This one is just a spectacular watch, in pristine condition, gorgeous creamy lumes, and all credentials checked out.
GMT Master Ref. 1675 ca 1977
While a well-preserved GMT Master will always draw at least a little attention from collectors, this particular piece is exceptional for another reason. It is one of the most historically important watches we have ever owned– and as every collector knows, provenance is key.
It features the UAE Quraysh Hawk on the dial, along with an inscription of Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. His Highness, who was Minister of Defense at the time, presented it as a gift – and as if that wasn't reason enough – this watch was also owned by renowned collector, scholar, dear friend and watch author, John Goldberger. It made its appearance in John's book, 100 Superlative Rolex Watches.
Letting go can be bittersweet – and we are going to miss these three extraordinary old friends.