Auctions: Will The Daytona & Royal Oak Bubble Burst?

The latest virtual auction results from Antiquorum in Geneve show that there is still as serious Daytona and Royal Oak addiction amongst watch collectors and dealers. A very nice 1967 Rolex Daytona Paul Newman, with black dial, white sub-dial combo, original bracelet and – crucially – the original hands, made 181,00 Swiss Francs, which is about £150,000. That is crazy money, but we think the bubble on Daytona models (non celeb owned that is) could peak at over 250K sterling next year before the recession really bites.

Interestingly, the auction house noted that a service was recommended, and you may think “well why didn’t the owner service it with Rolex before the auction?”

The short answer is that would have devalued the watch. Rolex often insists on replacing hands so that the timekeeping can be as accurate as possible, and they may choose to replace worn out parts inside the movement too.

So you lose originality – this is why Rolex need to completely rethink their attitude to classic watch models. They need to appoint experienced classic Rolex expert watchmakers around the world, so that vintage models can be serviced with original, or hand-machined, replica parts authorised by Rolex. It obviously suits the factory to sell new watches, rather than faithfully restore old ones, but the way they’re restricting parts supply by simply discontinuing spares support for older models really is a poor show when people have paid over 10K to buy something new.

OK rant over. What about Audemars Royal Oaks, still going gangbusters?

A 1990s Royal Oak made 16,250 Francs, or £13,400. No box or papers, slight scratches on the case and bracelet by the way. Meanwhile a very sharp 42mm case Offshore model, with box and papers, looking near mint frankly, failed to make the 20,000 Franc reserve, or about £16,500.

A very nicely preserved 1996 Royal Oak Steel made 60,000 Francs, or £50,000, which is exceptional money and driven by the rarity of the blue dial, gold hands and 39mm case size.

So yes, collectors are still keen on watches with established rarity value, from the top brands, such as AP Royal Oak, Rolex Daytona, Rolex Sea Dweller, Patek Worldtimer, (150,000 CHF), the Patek Nautilus and an Omega Speedmaster Golden Panda edition made 52,000 CHF.

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