Top 10 Most Expensive Rolex Watches in the World


Top-10-Most-Expensive-Rolex-Watches

While most of us use our smartphones to check the time, wristwatches are still considered fashionable accessories and status symbols. But not all wristwatches can help you look like a million bucks. If you’re hoping to dress to impress, it’s hard to do much better than a high-value Rolex.

The most expensive Rolex watch is Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona Reference 6239. This vintage wristwatch sold for $17.75 million in 2017. Paul Newman owned and wore this Rolex Daytona for almost two decades, and the watch’s history is the primary reason it fetched such a high sales price.

Most Rolex watches cost a few thousand dollars, but some sell for millions. This ranking will reveal which Rolex timepieces have set new sales records!

Here Are the Top 10 Most Expensive Rolex Watches in the World:

  1. Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona – $17.75 million
  2. The Unicorn – $5.93 million
  3. The Big Red – $5.47 million
  4. The Bao Dai Rolex – $5.06 million
  5. The Legend – $3.71 million
  6. Daytona Lapis Lazuli Platinum – $3.27 million
  7. The Neanderthal – $3.01 million
  8. Deep Sea Special No. 1 – $2.06 million
  9. Jack of Diamonds – $1.63 million
  10. The Dark Star – $1.57 million

10. The Dark Star – $1.57 Million

The-Dark-Star
photo source: Christie’s

The best watches can tell far more than the time. They can also tell you the day of the week, the current month, and the date.

The Dark Star is a fantastic example, as it displays the numbers 1 through 31 (in a rich blue hue) along the face for the day of the month. It also has shifting panels displaying the current month and the day of the week.

This antique watch (created in 1952) also has a distinct aesthetic that sets it apart from modern Rolex watches. It features an 18-karat gold case and a beige leather strap with a 14-karat gold buckle.

Because The Dark Star is such a unique and capable Rolex, it sold for $1.57 million in 2018.

Why It’s Expensive

This watch is made of precious materials and has a unique style that’s impossible to find in modern wristwatches. And despite its age, this Rolex continues to function perfectly!

These factors combine to make The Dark Star an exceptionally valuable and irreplaceable item.

9. Jack of Diamonds – $1.63 Million

Jack-of-Diamonds
photo source: Christie’s

As soon as you set eyes on the Jack of Diamonds Rolex, it’s obvious that it’s worth a million bucks$1.63 million, to be precise!

After all, the riveted strap is made of 18-karat gold, and the face is encircled with shimmering colorless diamonds. Behind the case, you’ll also find a glittering face entirely covered in precious stones. Additionally, each hour is represented by a sparkling blue sapphire.

Though these blue gemstones aren’t the most expensive sapphires, they add an undeniable touch of luxury to this already sumptuous Rolex. To make matters even pricier, this Rolex is a vintage piece created in the 1980s, making it a rare find that can easily outsell modern pieces.

Why It’s Expensive

Where to begin when describing why this Rolex is so expensive? There are the decadent precious metals and jewels, its vintage status, and the fact that it’s a Rolex!

These qualities ensure that the Jack of Diamonds Rolex is a winner when it comes to price. With this watch on your wrist, you’d not only look like a million bucks, but you’d also be worth more than a million bucks.

8. Deep Sea Special No. 1 – $2.06 Million

Deep-Sea-Special-No-1
photo source: Christie’s

Contrary to popular belief, Rolex wristwatches aren’t only designed to be fashionable accessories and timepieces. Many of these watches are also designed to suit the hobbies and activities of their wealthy wearers, one of which is deep sea diving (like scuba diving).

But creating a lavish timepiece that can withstand a high-pressure underwater environment is challenging. But Rolex managed to figure it out way back in the 1950s.

The Deep Sea Special No. 1 is essentially a prototype that helped pave the way for future water-friendly Rolex watches.

Though it doesn’t feature diamonds or glittering precious metals, it’s a crucial part of Rolex history, which is why it managed to fetch $2.06 million when it sold at auction in 2021.

Why It’s Expensive

Any item with some historical significance can sell for amazing prices. This prototype watch is an antique that changed the game regarding wristwatch capabilities and durability, making it a must-have find for collectors and museum curators.

The Deep Sea Special No. 1 is also a one-of-a-kind wristwatch. As such, it’s irreplaceable, a quality that naturally makes it more valuable than mass-produced watches from the same period.

7. The Neanderthal – $3.01 Million

The-Neanderthal
photo source: Phillips

The Rolex Daytona is among the most popular and pricey of all the Rolex models and styles. The average Rolex Dayton wristwatch costs anywhere between $50,000 and $100,000!

But The Neanderthal Rolex (a 1966 Rolex Dayton Reference 6240) easily exceeds this price range, selling for $3.01 million in 2018.

It has a classy silver-and-black aesthetic that complements its antique components. Though this watch might not be able to tell you the current date, it’s a capable vintage Rolex that would look fitting on the wrist of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and business magnates.

Why It’s Expensive

This Rolex Daytona is valuable due to its age, branding, and condition. It’s also a one-of-a-kind Rolex thanks to its aesthetics, including its color pairing and dial sizes.

Remember, any item that’s the only one of its kind will outsell a mass-produced, easy-to-find item.

6. Daytona Lapis Lazuli Platinum – $3.27 Million

Daytona-Lapis-Lazuli-Platinum
photo source: Sotheby’s

People have used lapis lazuli, a rich blue stone primarily found in the Middle East, for thousands of years. The gates of the ancient city of Babylon were covered in this royal blue stone (the Ishtar Gate)!

Lapis lazuli is one of the oldest signifiers of wealth and affluence, which is why it should come as no surprise that it would make an appearance in a Rolex watchintroducing the Daytona Lapis Lazuli Platinum Reference 16516, a wristwatch that combines ancient power with modern luxury!

Though its teal blue wristband might not be the most subtle choice, the platinum case and lapis lazuli face are unmistakably regal. Still, if you want to make this watch yours, you might be disappointedit sold for $3.27 million to an unknown buyer in 2020.

Why It’s Expensive

The main reason why this Rolex wristwatch is so expensive is that it’s unique.

Few Rolex watches feature lapis lazuli faces, and though this blue stone isn’t one of the priciest, it is beautiful and historically significant. The fact that it also features platinum makes it a rare find, as Rolex released only a few platinum-case watches in 1999 (the year this watch was released).

5. The Legend – $3.71 Million

The-Legend
photo source: Phillips

For a brief time in 2016, The Legend Rolex was the most valuable Rolex Daytona in the world. This vintage gold-and-blue wristwatch sold for $3.71 million at the Geneva Watch Auction, setting a record that lasted about five months.

This 18-karat yellow gold watch is one of only two identical timepieces, making it one of the rarest (and most luxurious) Rolex watches from the late 1960s. For perspective, this Rolex is pricier than the most expensive Richard Mille watches!

Why It’s Expensive

The Legend is made of high-quality gold and is comparatively rare. It’s also a vintage piece, which makes it virtually irreplaceable. After all, you can’t go back in time and buy another if you lose this one!

4. The Bao Dai Rolex – $5.06 Million

The-Bao-Dai-Rolex
photo source: Phillips

The Dark Star isn’t the only Rolex with a built-in calendar. The Bao Dai Rolex Reference 6062 also has a discrete calendar function, and unlike The Dark Star, it has a contemporary aesthetic.

This refined, modern appearance is a little surprising when you consider the fact that this watch debuted in 1952! Despite its age, the Bao Dai Rolex looks brand-new, its 18-karat yellow gold case glimmering brightly and accentuating its dark blue-and-black face and wraparound.

The Bao Dai Rolex also features five square-cut diamonds, making it a distinctly lavish accessory worth its $5.06 million sales price.

Why It’s Expensive

This vintage timepiece is valuable due to its age, uniqueness, and precious materials.

Of course, it’s also a Rolex! Because the Rolex brand is so powerful and well-known, any watch released by the Rolex brand is sure to sell for big bucks.

3. The Big Red – $5.47 Million

The-Big-Red
photo source: Phillips

When you hear “Big Red,” you might think about the cinnamon-flavored chewing gum or a popular fictional dog. But in the context of Rolex watches, Big Red refers to a vintage 1980 Rolex Daytona wristwatch with a distinct red “Daytona” script on the face.

This classically styled watch was one of many high-quality timepieces once owned by actor, racecar driver, and entrepreneur Paul Newman. When it went to auction in 2020, it sold for a jaw-dropping $5.47 million!

Why It’s Expensive

Paul Newman is an American icon, and any of his timepieces could sell for millions. The fact that this particular wristwatch also happens to be a vintage Rolex only makes it more valuable.

2. The Unicorn – $5.93 Million

The-Unicorn
photo source: Phillips

In terms of mythological creatures, there’s almost nothing more beautiful or beloved than the unicorn. And when it comes to Rolex watches, there are few specimens more valuable, rare, or alluring than The Unicorn.

This wristwatch sold for $5.93 million when it went to auction in 2018. This Rolex Daytona is the only white gold example created in 1970, making it an exceptionally rare find that’s just as elusive as the mythological creature that gives it its name.

Why It’s Expensive

This vintage Rolex Dayton is the only of its kind, and even though it’s several decades old, it looks like a modern release. Its fantastic value stems from its rarity and condition.

In short, The Unicorn is a time-keeping treasure that could easily function as a physical asset to pad one’s portfolio.

1. Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona – $17.75 Million

Paul-Newman's-Rolex-Daytona-front-and-back
photo source: Phillips

The most expensive Rolex watch in the world is Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona Reference 6239. This watch sold for $17.75 million at a 2017 Phillip’s auction in New York.

Compared to contemporary Rolex watches, this one might not look exceptionally impressive. But it does have a few unique features, including an exotic dial and a special back case inscription (“Drive Carefully Me”).

Of course, its features pale in comparison to its history and ownership, both of which helped this wristwatch sell for millions.

Why It’s Expensive

There are several reasons why this is the most expensive Rolex watch in the world.

Firstly, it’s a Rolex! This brand’s reputation is so strong that even the simplest Rolex wristwatches sell for thousands.

The brand name also means that this watch is durable and high-quality. When adequately maintained, this watch can last a lifetime.

Secondly, this watch is a vintage piece. Joanne Woodward, Paul Newman’s second wife, purchased the Rolex Daytona Reference 6239. As such, this wristwatch is more than 50 years old!

But the most prevalent factor impacting this watch’s value is its ownership. After all, it was owned by Paul Newman for almost two decades.

Though Newman is deceased, his legacy and reputation live on through his films and business enterprises. In short, he’s one of the last century’s most famous and successful people.

Anything that once belonged to Newman can sell for outrageous prices due to his fame, including this Rolex wristwatch.

Why Are Rolex Watches Expensive?

You can visit your local department store and pick up a wristwatch for between $10 and $100. But if you’d like to own a Rolex wristwatch, expect to spend thousands of dollars.

But why are Rolex watches so expensive? Generally, the answer comes down to three crucial factors:

  • Brand reputation
  • Product quality
  • Style and design

Brand Reputation

Like Cartier, Rolex is internationally recognized as one of the best luxury watch brands in the world.

This stellar brand reputation ensures that Rolex wristwatches continue to sell for higher-than-average prices. After all, brands that cater to the most exclusive clientele can’t drop prices without ostracizing that consumer base.

In short, one of the primary reasons people love Rolex watches is because they’re associated with wealth and power. If these watches cost the same as the average department store wristwatches, everyone could own one, which would ruin the mystique.

Product Quality

The Rolex brand wouldn’t have been able to build such a fabulous reputation if its products weren’t high-quality. Like many other luxury accessories, Rolex wristwatches are made to last a lifetime, making them well worth the price.

Though these watches aren’t always decked out in precious metals like gold and platinum, some of the most expensive precious metals in the world, they are made of durable rust-proof stainless steel.

Additionally, Rolex watches are primarily handmade, ensuring that all components work correctly and are precisely and expertly placed.

The labor costs incurred via this creation process also contribute to the high price of a Rolex watch. Remember, machines don’t earn a paycheck. But talented watchmakers aren’t cheap!

Style and Design

In addition to having the potential to last a lifetime, Rolex watches are fashionably designed. These wristwatches are worn by some of the world’s wealthiest and most affluent individuals, and they even make a few appearances throughout the hit HBO show, Succession.

Rolex watches have featured the most groundbreaking designs and components since Hans Wilsdorf founded the Rolex brand in 1905. They’re stylish, innovative, and thanks to their high price tags, they’re also wearable status symbols.

If you’d like to make a statement each time you enter a room, but without having to say a word, invest in a Rolex.

Of course, if you’re keen to make the best possible impression, you might want to try to secure one of the priciest Rolex wristwatches. But if you’re pursuing one of the watches included in this ranking, you might run into a little trouble.

After all, anyone in possession of one of the most expensive Rolex watches isn’t likely to part with it any time soon (pun intended).

What’s the Most Expensive Rolex Watch in the World?

The most expensive Rolex watch in the world is Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona Reference 6239, which sold for $17.75 million in 2017. This vintage wristwatch has a unique history, and this history is partially responsible for its incredible auction price.

This Rolex Daytona Reference 6239 also has a few unique touches, such as a personalized inscription on the case back. Though it shows signs of wear and tear, this wristwatch is more valuable than any other Rolex, including brand-new models.

Discover more about the world’s most expensive lifestyle items by checking out these related articles now!

Eric Lyons

Eric is a subject-matter expert on the world's most expensive luxuries and collectibles. He has explored thousands of luxuries and collectibles over the past few years and now brings them to readers around the world.

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