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Top Picks from Sotheby’s “Important Watches” Auction on June 9th

The Craft + Tailored team is on-the-road again! This time on location in NYC for the Sotheby’s Important Watches auction happening tomorrow (June 9th). We were invited to preview the lots and prebid for ourselves and some select clients.

If you are a vintage watch fan then “luxury week” in NYC should be no secret. Sotheby’s Luxury Week sale series happens twice a year, hosting a three-month, three-city extravaganza that showcases the finest offerings from various realms, including jewelry, watches, collector cars, and much more. You can expect an absolutely captivating auction with this impressive collection of timepieces. Before you ask, yes we’ve compiled a list of our top picks that you won’t want to miss.

Lot 27. Rolex Ref. 16520 'Zenith' Daytona

(Est. 500,000 and 1,000,000 USD.)
I had the privilege of personally examining and holding this watch when it was showcased at Sotheby’s in Los Angeles. Having been present for the auction of Paul Newman’s other Rolex Daytonas, I must say that this particular watch holds a unique place in my heart. 

In 1995, Rolex bestowed this watch upon Paul Newman as a gift for his distinguished title of “Rolex Motorsports Man of the Year.” Throughout his life, Paul Newman frequently wore this watch. While all of Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytonas are undeniably special and captivating, there’s something about this particular timepiece that resonates with me on a personal level. It feels like a watch that truly accompanied Paul Newman through his daily experiences, and that’s what makes it exceptionally significant in my eyes.

The estimated value for this watch falls between 500,000 and 1,000,000 USD. Considering its unique history and the sentimental value it holds, I wouldn’t be surprised if it surpasses the million-dollar mark. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that this specific Paul Newman Rolex Daytona might be somewhat lesser-known and less recognized within the estate’s collection, adding an element of obscurity that further piques my interest.

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Lot 33 Patek Philippe Reference 3424.

(Est. 20,000 – 30,000 USD)
In my opinion, the Patek Philippe reference 3424 designed by Gilbert Albert is one of the most interesting yet simple watches to have come from Patek out of the 1960s. I personally love watches that possess a story, and the story of Gilbert Albert is an interesting one especially as it relates to his involvement with Patek Philippe During the early 1960s. Patek Philippe collaborated with Albert, a jewelry designer from Geneva, to create a collection of wristwatches. This partnership resulted in the production of a series of timepieces with unconventional and audacious designs. Albert’s innovative approach led to the creation of asymmetrical watch cases that were ahead of their time, pushing the boundaries of traditional aesthetics. 

Even after five decades, these distinctive and avant-garde designs continue to be regarded as cutting-edge, maintaining their relevance in the realm of horology. This specific example in rose gold is absolutely stunning and in collector-grade condition.

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Lot 74. Rolex ref. 1665 'Comex' Sea-Dweller

(Est. 100,000- 200,000 USD)
Lot 74 presents a remarkable timepiece, the Rolex ref. 1665 ‘Comex’ Sea-Dweller, estimated at 100,000 to 200,000 USD. Comex Rolex Sea-Dwellers exude an incredible level of coolness, and discovering one that originates from the estate of the original owner, complete with comprehensive provenance and additional artifacts, adds an even greater allure.

The 1665 range of Sea-Dwellers was purposefully crafted by Rolex as true tool watches, and Comex played a significant role in collaborating with Rolex to develop the technological advancements necessary for such a watch. Having had the opportunity to personally interact with this watch during its tour in Los Angeles, I can attest to the multitude of captivating elements it possesses. From its distinctive vibe to intricate details, this specific ref 1665 exemplifies the epitome of a Rolex tool watch, making it an absolute dream for collectors in search of horological excellence.

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Lot 78 Rolex ref. 6241 Daytona Paul Newman 'John Player Special’

(Est. 400,000 – 600,000 USD)
The blend of black and gold can produce a captivating and balanced appearance. It always conveys an impression of refinement and classiness without being too flashy or over-the-top. The timeless appeal of this color pairing lies in its ability to evoke a refined aesthetic with a balanced and tasteful presence.

Having had the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time with this JPS, I can confidently describe it as a genuinely pleasing and authentic example. The decision to present this lot on a strap adds to its overall appeal, as it reflects a personal preference for how the watch would likely be worn in a collection. Additionally, as a fan of pump pusher chronographs, particularly Daytonas, this specific watch immediately caught my attention. 

The dial of this watch is warm and inviting, creating a sense of approachability and charm. Considering the overall package, the estimated value appears reasonable, especially given its track record of establishing itself as a blue-chip horological investment over the past 15-20 years.

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Lot 81 Tornek Rayville TR-900

(Est. 80,000 – 120,000 USD)
There’s an undeniable allure to watches that have been utilized for their intended purpose, serving in the military and becoming authentic horological artifacts. If you’re familiar with the Tornek-Rayville TR-900, you likely recognize that it holds more than meets the eye—it’s essentially a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms in disguise but there are some notable differences. 

The Tornek-Rayville story, along with the limited issuance of these watches and their unique technical elements like the moisture indicator, is truly fascinating. I could passionately discuss my adoration for TR-900s at great length but I’m going to refrain and keep this short and sweet. Throughout my horological career, I’ve had the privilege of handling and sourcing numerous Blancpain Fifty Fathoms and Tornek-Rayville TR-900 timepieces. However, this particular lot has me absolutely enthralled. It originates directly from the original owner, accompanied by an abundance of provenance and additional artifacts that make it exceptionally special. I haven’t come across another TR-900 that possesses such completeness in terms of military and horological provenance. It’s an extraordinary find, and I can’t help but be completely enamored by this specific lot.

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Special thanks to: Skip Powell from Sotheby’s (@skiplikesvintage) James Fisk (@jmsfisk) and the Sotheby’s watch department (@sothebyswatches)

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