Description

The 6263 is arguably the most desirable Daytona reference

The Rolex 6263 is an early reference in Rolex’s Daytona range. It falls within what’s called the first series. Daytona is the highest selling Rolex line on the used market, and this is especially true for the references in this first series.

The series ran from 1963 to 1987 and featured manual wind movements, whilst the two later series both had automatic movements. It is also one of the so-called ‘Paul Newman’ references within this series. It has this name because watches with these reference numbers sometimes came with Paul Newman dials; the most highly prized Daytona dial configuration.

The Paul Newman references can be subdivided into three groups of two, and within each group there is one watch with a steel bezel and one with a black acrylic bezel. The first pair to be released was the 6239/6241, followed by the 6262/6264, and finally the 6265/6263.

As with the other pairs, the only real difference between the 6265 and 6263 is that the former has a steel bezel, whilst the latter has a black acrylic bezel.

Of the six Paul Newman references, the 6263 is arguably the most desirable. There is a plethora of different kinds of 6263s available, and many have been given nicknames by collectors. These nicknames include the Big Red, UAE Desert Eagle, Panda, Peruvian Air Force, Paul Newman (Exotic Dial), Non-Paul Newman, Sigma Dial, and Arabian Knight. These different versions vary in value, but some have sold for up to $3,717,906.

The 6263 has a Valjoux 727 movement, a calibrated metal bezel with black Plexiglas insert, and screw-down pushers. The bezel has a tachymeter scale printed in white that can be used to measure speed. The watch has traditionally come with an Oyster bracelet, but there have been examples that have been sold with jubilee bracelets instead.

In examples from about 1969 to 1980, there is a domed plexiglass crystal with the trade name ‘Tropic 21’. From 1980 to the end of the reference’s production in 1988 standard plexiglass was used instead. Originally, the 6263 had an Oyster Twinlock 700 winding crown. In 1972, this was replaced by an Oyster Triplock 701 winding crown. From 1977, Triplock 702 was used, and then from 1982 the Triplock 703.

The 6263 can either have a standard or exotic dial, now known as a Paul Newman dial. When it comes to the 6263, these Paul Newman dials come in one of two forms. Either there is a white 2-colour oyster dial or a black 3-colour RCO dial.

Specifications

In this section we outline the specifications of the Rolex Daytona 6263

General

Brand

Rolex

Model

Daytona

Reference

6263

Production Years

c. 1969-87

Functions

Time, Chronograph, Tachymeter

Number of Watches Produced (Estimate)

Total: 26400

Stainless Steel: 24000

Water Resistance

1969-early ’80s

50 meters

Early ’80s-1987

100 meters

Lume

Tritium

Lug Width

18-19mm

Pushers

1969-1972

Mk1 / P300 / Millerighe (i.e. ‘thousand lines’) Screw-down nickel-plated brass pushers (on steel models)

1972-1977

Mk2 / 24-P301 Screw-down steel pushers

1977-1987

Mk3 / 24-P302 Screw-down steel pushers

Crown

1969-1972

Oyster Twinlock 700 winding crown (ridged metal; 7mm)

1972-1977

Oyster Triplock 701 winding crown (ridged metal; 7mm)

1977-1982

Oyster Triplock 702 winding crown (ridged metal; 7mm)

1982-1987

Oyster Triplock 703 winding crown (ridged metal; 7mm)

Crystal

1969-~1980

Domed plexiglass (‘Tropic 21’)

~1980-1988

Standard plexiglass

Bezel

Bezel Description

Calibrated Metal with Black Plexiglas Insert and Tachymeter Scale Printed in White

Tachymeter

Range

50–>200 units/hour

Scale

50–>90 units/hour (5-unit intervals)

90–>160 units/hour (10-unit intervals)

160–>200 units/hour (20-unit intervals)

Dial

Dial Markers

Index

Note: sigmas (σ) flanking the ‘T SWISS T’ designation at the 6 o’clock dial position indicates the hour markers are gold

Printing

‘ROLEX OYSTER COSMOGRAPH’ or ‘ROLEX COSMOGRAPH OYSTER’: 12 o’clock

‘SUPERLATIVE CHRONOMETER OFFICIALLY CERTIFIED’: On Some Gold Models

‘DAYTONA’ (in curved red text)

Dial Supplier

Singer

Case

Case Material

904L Stainless Steel, 14kt Yellow Gold, 18kt Yellow Gold

Case Type

Oyster

Case Design

1st series

Flatter than series 2 & 3 (~900 pieces produced). Often made from leftover 6239, 6262 or 6264 cases (if so the case backs are internally stamped with these references)

2nd series

Thicker case

3rd series

Modern-style case

Case Supplier

C. R. Spillman & Cie (C.R.S.)

Case Diameter

36-37mm

Case Thickness

13-14mm

Common Bracelets/Straps

Bracelet Material

904L Stainless Steel, 14kt Yellow Gold, 18kt Yellow Gold

Bracelet Type

Oyster

Clasp Type

Folding Deployant

Clasp Material

904L Stainless Steel, 14kt Yellow Gold, 18kt Yellow Gold

Clasp Codes

(Indicates date of production)

Letters: A to L = 1976 to 1987; VA to VF = 1976 to 1981

Numbers (not always present) : 1 to 12 = January to December

Movements

Brand

Rolex (adapted from the base movement Valjoux 72)

Movement Type

Manual-wind

Caliber

Valjoux 727

Base

Valjoux 72

Number of Jewels

17

Frequency

21600

Mounting Diameter

29.5mm

Outer Diameter

30mm

Shock Device

Kif-Ultraflex

Power Reserve

48h

More Info on Rolex 6263’s Movements…

The 6262 uses a Valjoux 727 movement, the successor to the 726. In terms of Rolexes, its better to think of it as the successor to the 722-1, as Rolex never used the 726 in their watches. Both the 722-1 and 727 have a 48-hour power reserve 17 jewels. The main improvement is the balance wheel, that Is now 21600 vibrations per hour (vph) rather than 18000.

Variants

The Rolex 6263 is one of the most sought-after references in Rolex’s Daytona range. There are a litany of different variations, many of which command a premium at the auction room

Rolex 6263 Gold

Rolex 6263s come either with stainless-steel or gold cases. Far less gold 6263s were made compared to the stainless-steel ones; in fact around a tenth. Out of an estimated 26400 reference 6263s were produced, and only around 2000 of these were yellow gold. The gold used was either 14kt or 18kt yellow gold. The 14kt gold examples are rarer than the 18kt ones as they are only found on watches that were made for the American market.

Appreciation of yellow gold vintage Daytonas is mixed. Many especially love the black dial versions, finding that the black contrasts well with the yellow gold case. However, there are others who find the yellow gold to be too flashy; preferring the more understated steel cases.

Although no white gold 6263 has ever been found, an example has been found for the the 6265; a reference often considered to be the 6263’s sister watch. This white gold 6265 is termed the ‘unicorn’, and it went for $5.9 million at auction.

Note that in addition to the case, certain components such as the hour markers were sometimes made of white or yellow gold. If this is the case, a small mark called a ‘sigma’ appears on the dial. Find out more about this in the ‘Rolex 6263 Sigma’ section lower on this page.

Rolex 6263 Sigma Dial

Watch collectors are often very interested in what may seem to outsiders to be very small details. One of the small details that Daytona collectors look for is the so-called sigma dial. These are dials with two lower-case sigmas (σ) at the 6 o’clock position. Their appearance indicates that gold was used for specific components of the watch. The obsession with detail is even more pronounced when it comes to vintage Daytonas, and especially with the reference 6263. Many of the watches that have gone for record amounts at auction have had sigma dials, and this small mark is one of the first thing Daytona enthusiasts look for when examining 6263s.

Rolex 6263 Paul Newman

The so-called Paul Newman dial Daytona is perhaps the most well known of the many variants in the Daytona range. Authentic examples can be found for a number of Daytona references, but the 6263 examples are arguably the most valuable. 

In early Daytonas, there were two dial types; the so-called standard dial and the exotic dial. The exotic dial was renamed the Paul Newman dial by Italian collectors. Since the early days of the Daytona line, Paul Newman has been a sort of unofficial ambassador for it. The story goes that the dial type was given this name because it was featured on the watch that Newman wore on a poster that these collectors saw.

It was originally the less popular of the two dial types, but is now much more valuable than standard dial models. Since the 6263 is the cream of the crop when it comes to four-digit Daytona references, the 6263 Paul Newman is highly sought after by collectors.

Adding to this collectability is the fact that the second of the two Daytonas owned by Newman himself was a reference 6263. The watch has a black dial and white sub-dials. Judging by how much his 6239 went for, if the 6263 were ever sold it would be a monumental event in watch auction history.

Rolex 6263 Non Daytona

One of the famous features of vintage Daytonas is the distinctive red ‘DAYTONA’ designation above the centre sub-dial. However, this does not always appear on the dial. There are genuine examples of several references, including the 6263, where it is absent. These are referred to as ‘Non Daytonas’.

Rolex 6263 Big Red

At first, the nickname ‘Big Red’ might seem confusing, as the watch with this name is small compared with what is fashionable today. However, here the word ‘big’ only refers to the ‘Daytona’ text not the watch itself.  This writing appears on almost all 6263s, and it is always bright red. This text appears in curved writing above the 6 o’clock sub-dial. On a Rolex 6263 Big Red, the ‘Daytona’ text on the dial is slightly larger than usual. Although this might seem like a small detail, it does increase the value of the watch in the auction room. 

6263 Big Red watches come with either silver or black dials. Each of these changes how the ‘Daytona’ text appears on the dial. With the silver dial, it’s more prominent due to the contrast in colours. However, what is preferred is really down to personal preference. 

These watches are expensive largely due to rarity. Any small variation in a vintage Daytona that was not produced in large numbers is bound to add value to the watch, and this is no exception. It should be noted though, that although these are rare, the rarity is nowhere near that of some other categories such as lemon or red dial 6263s. 

6263 Big Red watches have gone for a lot at auction. A couple of big red 6263s were sold in December 2017. On the 7th December, a stainless-steel model from c. 1983 with black dial went for USD 175,000; almost double it’s top estimate. This selling price was largely due to the ‘Big Red’ and ‘Tiffany’ signature. On the previous day at Sotheby’s, a very similar watch, without the Tiffany signature, went for USD 81,250.

Rolex 6263 Small Red

As well as being interested in the 6263 Big Red, some collectors are also on the lookout for the 6263 Small Red. This is the complete opposite, with a smaller ‘DAYTONA’ designation than usual. The designation is in curved red font as usual. Although less collectable than the big red, some prefer this more understated dial.

6263s with this dial type have sold for amazing amounts at auction, such as the example from around 1984 that sold at Sotheby’s for 62,500 USD, and the watch from c. 1983 selling for 175,000 USD at Christies

Rolex 6263 Floating

The term floating is used to indicate that some text on the dial is detached from surrounding text. In the 6263 this term is usually used to indicate that the ‘Daytona’ designation appears slightly higher above the hour subdial than usual. However, it may also indicate that there is a gap between the ‘Cosmograph’ designation and the text above it.

Very few floating Daytona 6263s were ever made, hence their high value in the market. This is yet another example of specific terms being used to refer to tiny details about the ‘DAYTONA’ designation; the big red/small red dichotomy being another one.

Rolex 6263 RCO

RCO, sometimes called the Oyster Sotto, is one of the most sought-after Daytona variants. It can be found in a number of different early Daytona references, including the 6263 and 6265. It is estimated that only twenty to twenty-five 6263 RCO watches exist in total. So far less than twenty have appeared at auction. They often turn up in unexpected places, as owners might not know quite how valuable that watch in a box in the attic is worth.

Mark 1 Sotto Dials are the earliest and most sought after. All were produced in 1969 and have serial numbers in the 2,085,500-2,085,600 range. Only a handful (around six at the last count) of Mark 1 Sotto 6263s have been found. These are the ultimate prize of Rolex collecting; almost impossible to attain. Even more rare are the tropical Mark 1 Sotto 6263s. The word tropical indicates that the dial has turned brown over time due to exposure to the sun. To our knowledge, only one is known of, and it was sold at Phillips on 14 May 2016. It went for an amazing CHF 1,985,000.

Rolex 6263 Black Ghost ROC

6263 Black Ghost ROC is one of the most fascinating and controversial variants of the 6263. On 10 November 2014 it sold at Christies for 461,000 Swiss Francs, placing it firmly in the company of the most prestigious vintage Daytonas. However, almost immediately, questions about its authenticity came into the frame. Some insisted it is real, pointing out that the font of the lettering is absolutely in line with what experts would expect, and all other details of the watch are also correct. However, even today there are still many who doubt the authenticity of this watch.

To explain why takes us into an examination of the tiny details that connoisseurs of the Rolex sports watch concern themselves with. The Rolex 6263 Black Ghost ROC is a Rolex Daytona with a reference number 6263 and a black Paul Newman dial. The Paul Newman dial is the most sought-after dial in vintage Rolex collecting. This is both due to its rarity and its prestige. It was originally called an exotic dial, but after Italian collectors noticed Paul Newman wearing an example on a poster for the film ‘Winning’, they started calling it the Paul Newman dial. Its most noticeable features are the art deco font and square markers in the sub-dials. It came either with a ‘white’ or silver dial and black sub-dials, or with a black dial and ‘white’ sub-dials.

By the time the reference 6263 came along, this particular dial configuration was on the way out. Consequently, very few Paul Newman dial 6263s exist. The black dial Paul Newman 6263 is even more rare. One peculiarity of this particular watch is that the designation at 12 o’clock reads ‘Rolex Cosmograph Oyster’. This is known as an RCO designation, named after the initials of these words. In the same way, it is correct for a white dial Paul Newman 6263 to read ‘Rolex Oyster Cosmograph, known as a ROC designation. The RCO designation is unusual, as almost all Daytonas have a ROC designation. It’s the kind of small detail that you might not even notice when you first look at a watch, but in the world of watch collecting it makes all the difference.

Before the Black Ghost came along, the conventional wisdom said that all black Paul Newman 6263s has an RCO designation. The commonly accepted explanation for this was that when the new ‘Oyster’ version of the Daytona was introduced with references 6263 and 6265 (ignoring the 6240, that was kind of a prototype), Rolex didn’t have an Oyster dial ready, so they took dials that had been made for the 6263 and 6264 and used these. This practice of using old parts in new watches was common at the time, especially in the earliest stages of each reference’s history. The 6262 and 6264 dials had a ‘Rolex Cosmograph’ designation at 12 o’clock, and for the new watch they simply printed ‘Oyster’ below this designation, producing the RCO designation. Experts believe that between twenty and twenty-five 6263 Black Paul Newman RCOs exist, but only one black dial Paul Newman ROC has been found.

However, on the Black Ghost we have a ROC designation instead. Christies contends that for this watch Singer took a dial from a 6262, and instead of simply adding a ‘Rolex’ designation below the ‘Rolex Cosmograph’ as was usual, they instead added a second coat of paint over the whole designation to produce a ROC designation. They also painted over the red ‘Daytona’ designation above the centre sub-dial. If you examine pictures closely you can clearly see a stain around the ROC designation, that has been referred to by some as a ‘halo’. There is a second halo above the centre sub-dial. Christies states that it must have been a mistake of Singers to print a ROC rather than RCO designation.

However, there are many who believe that this explanation is very stretched, and that the halo is itself evidence of fakery. Rolex is the most faked watch brand ever, and with these kinds of prices in play fakery should be expected. However, experts insist that so many of the other tiny details of the watch, such as small details relating to the fonts on the dial, indicate that it’s a correct example.

In a way, the Black Ghost encapsulates what the world of vintage Rolex collecting is like. What might seem like obscure and unimportant details become hugely amplified in importance, whilst at the same time there is a level of uncertainty that can infuriate.

Rolex 6263 Big Eyes

The Rolex 6263 Big Eyes is a 6263 with oversized subdials. The size difference is slight and may not be obvious at first glance. There are ‘Big Eye’ versions of both the 6263 and 6265, but the 6263 is the most highly prized due to the popularity of the reference.

An example sold for an incredible sum of 187,500 Swiss Francs on the 11-12 November 2017 sale at Phillips.

Rolex 6263 Flat Dial

On 6263 Flat Dials, there is no ‘step’ between the registers and the main dial. In most cases, the concentric circles within the registers is also gone. Many collectors prefer the clean, simple appearance of these dials, but they can be very hard to find due to their rarity. 

Rolex 6263 Tropical Dial

Collectors have coined the term ‘tropical’ to refer to discoloration of a dial over time. On 6263s, this process changes the original black colour on the dial to varying shades of brown. These shades are given specific names by collectors, that usually have culinary derivation; such as chocolate, caramel, coffee, tobacco and so on. 

The discoloration is something that happens over an extended period of time, and therefore for a 6263 to have a tropical dial it has to have a particular age. For now, most examples tend to be dated to the period 1969-1974, but later examples have surfaced, such as a 1978 example sold at Antiquorum in September 2014. These dates will obviously change as this process continues. To go even deeper down the rabbit hole, you can consider different paints used by Rolex for their dials and the various ways they respond to sunlight exposure. As with all things Daytona, you can go deep the details matter. 

There are three main versions of 6263 Tropical watches. On some examples it’s the dial itself that has changed colour. On others, it’s one or more of the sub-dials. In the third category of watch, the outer minute track has changed colour. Sometimes, a watch occupies more than one of these categories. Each version adds something unique to the watch, and collectors often have individual preferences for this. Sometimes each of the three sub-dials have slightly different shades of brown due to them discolouring differently, again giving the watch a particular look. 

A tropical dial, of whatever variety, will increase the value of a 6263. By how much really depends on the circumstances, and as we’ve seen there’s quite a lot of variety in the particular types of tropical dial available.

Rolex 6263 First Series

The earliest 6263s are referred to as first series. The first series cases were flatter than the following two series. The earliest 6263s were sold with leftover cases of the references 6239, 6262 and 6264. Although using the term leftover makes this sound like a negative, it actually enhances rather than detracts from the watches, because this is how they were originally sold.

The first series 6263s are the most desired of all series. This is because such a small number of these were produced compared with later series, and also because all authentic Paul Newman 6263s have first series cases. The same is true for its sister reference, the 6265.

The dials on first series 6263s have a small ‘R’ in the ‘ROLEX’ designation and no serifs in the ‘OYSTER COSMOGRAPH’ designation.

Rolex 6263 Panam

Many of the variants discussed on this page can be found on multiple Daytona references. However, the Rolex 6263 Panam is unique. Only one genuine example has been found to our knowledge. It joins a list of 6263 custom watches, including the UAE Desert Eagle, Oman, Arabian Knight, Peruvian Air Force, and so on. Where most of these are made for Middle Eastern royalty, it seems that the 6263 Panam was delivered to a U.S. customer by special order.

Panam is short for Pan American World Airways; the United States’ largest airline in the world for a few decades from 1930 onwards. It was founded by the visionary entrepreneur Juan Trippe and spearheaded many important innovations in the history of aviation, including the jumbo jet.

The company’s innovative nature clearly lined up with Rolex’s overall brand strategy. The history of Rolex’s advertisements over the years shows a clear emphasis on the promotion of innovative events where the company played a part. From Edmund Hillary wearing a Rolex Explorer prototype on his climb of Mount Everest, through Mercedes Gleitze swimming the English Channel wearing a Rolex ‘Oyster’, to the failed bid to be the ‘moon-watch’ for the Apollo 11 mission, this strategy is apparent.

Pan Am was therefore a perfect fit for the company. Rolex became the company’s official timepiece, and they even designed the GMT-Master specifically with Pan Am pilots in mind. The watch’s feature of simultaneously displaying the time in two time-zones was a very useful feature for pilots, and Rolex became the official deliverer of watches to Pan Am pilots. This collaboration was featured prominently in both Rolex’s and Pan Am’s advertisements.

The 6263 Panam has a standard silver dial with black subdials, and there is a ‘T SWISS T’ designation at the bottom of the dial. The famous blue Pan Am logo, commonly referred to as the ‘blue meatball’, features prominently just above the centre of the dial. The ‘ROLEX’ and ‘OYSTER’ designations have had to be moved higher to accommodate this, meaning that this is a whole new dial, and not simply an existing dial with a logo printed on.

Interestingly, the serial number of the watch is 3.5xx.xxx whereas the earliest known custom Arab dials are around 3.65x.xxx. This suggests that this 6263 Panam was the inspiration for later Arab custom Daytonas such as the Arabian Knight, Oman, etc.

The watch’s owner has switched the black bezel it came with for a blue one that complements the blue Pan Am logo nicely.

Rolex 6263 Albino

, andand The Rolex 6263 Albino is legendary in the world of vintage watches. It is unlike any other Daytona out there. Most Daytonas have a two-tone dial, with contrasting colours for the dial and sub-dials. Usually, there is a white dial with black sub-dials, or a black dial with white sub-dials. Sometimes, this two-tone palette is enhanced with the red of the Daytona designation.

However, the Albino is unique amongst Daytonas for its monochromatic palette. In this particular dial configuration, both the dial and sub-dials are ‘white’. I put this in quotes because although it’s called a white dial by collectors, in fact it looks more silver than white. The wonderful sunburst finish that contributes to this silvery colour. This finish is not something that can be fully appreciated until you hold one in your hands, as pictures don’t do it justice. The watch earnt the nickname Albino due to its stark pale appearance.

The watch is something of a throwback to the pre-Daytona reference 6238, that also came with a monochrome silver dial. However, in this watch this dial is combined with all of the features of the 6263 that collectors love, such as the screwdown pushers and distinctive black bezel with tachymeter scale. The bezel in particular provides a contrasting frame that is lacking in the 6238, making it a much more attractive watch in the eyes of many collectors. Unlike some of the other unique dial configurations of vintage Daytonas, such as the Oyster Sotto for example, this is more than just a small change that only watch collectors would notice. This variation completely changes the appearance of the watch. There’s no doubt that it has a striking appearance and is quite different from any other 6263 available. It’s uniqueness and rarity transfixes many Rolex enthusiasts.

Only four examples of this unique watch have ever been found. All examples have very close serial numbers; all dated to year 1971, which is very early in the production of the 6263. The origins of this unique dial configuration are not fully understood. As with all vintage Rolexes, it’s difficult to know for sure as Rolex did not keep records the way other watch manufacturers did during this period. It was originally thought to be a prototype dial, but it is now believed to be a dial for a production watch.

There is a step between the registers and the rest of the dial that provides some visual interest to this stark dial. Besides the black bezel, the watch also has black hands and numerals. The ROC (‘Rolex Oyster Cosmograph’) designation at 12 o’clock position is also printed in black. At least one example has been found that has the curved red Daytona designation above the centre sub-dial.

The 6263 Albino should not be confused with the 6239 Albino. Although a very similar watch, there are some key differences. Both have the monochromatic silver dial/sub-dial. However, the most obvious difference is that there is a steel rather than a black bezel. On the 6239 watch, the registers are less recessed, meaning that they blend more with the dial. There is also a ‘Rolex Cosmogrph’ designation in place of the 6263s ROC designation. It’s interesting to compare this to the 6263 Albino, and it’s really down to taste which one is preferred.

The 6263 Albino came to the attention of many collectors after an example belonging to the rock star Eric Clapton was sold at Sotheby’s on June 5, 2003 for $505,000; five times the estimate. At that time, this was a staggering sum for a Rolex. In fact, it was the 2nd highest selling Rolex up to then. It’s indicative of how much the world of the vintage Rolex has changed since then that this seems small compared with what’s happened since. This is also indicated by the fact that the same watch sold for CHF 1,325,000 when it was auctioned for a second time at Phillips on May 10, 2015. This time, it took the title of the most expensive Rolex sold at auction.

Clapton had bought the watch in the late ‘90s. He has a particular interest in unique rare watches, and the Albino is a case in point. This taste of rare watches is revealed by his ownership of one of only two platinum Patek Philippe 2499s. He also owned a Rolex prototype chronograph called the Yacht-Master. This was one of only three made, and not to be confused with the later Yacht-Master series. Along with watches, Clapton was also a keen car collector, particularly Ferraris. Clapton is one of the most influential rock stars in the world. Born in Surrey, England in 1945 he fronted the Yardbirds and the innovative rock band Cream. In polls, he has consistently ranked as one of the greatest guitar players of all time. Watch collectors understand that along with musical taste he also expresses great taste in watches.

A second example of a 6263 Albino was found by the watch connoisseur Eric Ku in 2013. Ku is a highly respected Rolex expert, who is also the owner of the Vintage Rolex Forum (VRF). Although this watch didn’t have the celebrity provenance of the Clapton watch, it is still a fantastic example of a 6263 Albino. The watch comes from the Middle East and was absolutely fresh to the market when it came into Ku’s possession. Besides Clapton’s and Ku’s watches, only two other examples of 6263 Albino’s are known, making it amongst the rarest and most desirable Rolexes in the world.

Rolex 6263 Oman

One important subcategory of Daytona variants are the custom Daytonas produced for Middle Eastern royalty, including the Oman, UAE, and Arabian Knight variants. The Oman royal family of the era of the 6263 were very fond of Rolex. The most popular models for them to customise were Day-Dates and other dress watches, but sports watches such as Daytonas also appear.

When it comes to custom dial Daytonas, this rarity combines with the hysteria around the Daytona to produce fantastical prices at auction. It’s only since about 2011 that these ‘diplomatic’ Daytonas have become so sought after. According to Bonham’s Jonathan Darracott, it used to be fairly common for Daytona owners to replace these ‘diplomatic’ dials on their watches. They must be kicking themselves after seeing how much some of these have gone for at auction! The climb in the value of these watches is in line with the explosion of interest in the Daytona itself, which has come to become the most sought-after Rolex model. Since the 6263 is the cream of the crop as far as Daytonas go, this means that a Daytona 6263 Oman or Daytona 6263 UAE is a true find.

If a Khanjar 6263 appears at auction it is now sure to go for a lot, and interest in these items is only increasing, and so will the price.

Rolex 6263 UAE Desert Eagle

The 6263 UAE Desert Eagle is a custom watch that was produced in the 1970s in small quantities for Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, to be given out as gifts. Maktoum was at that time Dubai’s minister of defense. Many watch manufacturers made custom watches for royals in the Middle East during this period. This usually involved adding a national emblem or signature to the dial. In the case of the 6263 UAE Desert Eagle we have both the emblem and signature on one dial.

In a technique called ‘polychrome relief printing’ there is a slightly 3d effect to the emblem, as it is made up of different layers stacked together. At the centre of the hawk is an enamelled Arabian sailboat. This appeared on emblems of that early period in UAEs history.

Above the 6 o’clock register there is another signature, this time of the Wazarah Ad Dif’a A department. All of these custom features leave little room for anything else, and so the ROC (‘Rolex Oyster Cosmograph’) and Daytona designations are both absent. The only hint that it’s a Rolex is the silver Rolex crown sitting at the 12 o’clock position; just above the hawk emblem. The prominence of the hawk and lack of the usual designations gives this watch a very unique feel compared with other Rolexes. It may not may not appeal, depending on your taste. Some may feel that the hawk emblem is too large. However, others feel that it brings an interesting look to a classic design. The hawk is not overly large, and works well with the subdials.

Since these were custom made, they are relatively rare. This rarity is the main reason that they sell for so much at auction. The value is further increased by the presence of a sigma dial in almost all examples. It is speculated that all genuine examples have sigma dials, unless the dials have been replaced. Sigma dial is the name given to dials on which two symbols resembling the lower-case version of the Greek letter sigma (σ) appear at either side of the ‘T SWISS MADE T’ or ‘T SWISS T’ designation at the 6 o’clock position. Here, we have a sigma dial with a ‘T SWISS T’ designation.

In addition, all examples found have had silver dials. If a black dial UAE Desert Eagle was ever found its rarity would push it to astronomical sums at auction. The subdials are black, but over time they have started to turn a more bluish-black on some examples. This ‘tropical’ feature further increases the value.

The 6263 UAE Desert Eagle is popular with collectors, but not as much as the Oman Khanjar 6263, which has gone for incredible amounts at auction. Like the UAE, this watch also has the national emblem, in this case the famous khanjar emblem. However, the ROC designation remains, even if slightly altered on the dial. Perhaps this may be the reason it is more to the taste of collectors.

Rolex 6263 Arabian Knight

Sometimes an individual watch is so special that it gets a name all of its own. The watch sold at Phillips on 12 May 2018 is such a watch. At this auction, a stainless steel 6263 Daytona sold for an incredible CHF 1,932,500, making it one of the highest selling Rolexes ever. Watch collectors have given it the name ‘Arabian Knight’, but some mistakenly call it the ‘Arabian Night’ instead. Up until this auction, the watch had only appeared in literature devoted to Rolex, and had never been auctioned before. It’s the only example of its kind ever found, making it probably the rarest of all the 6263 variants.

It’s a custom watch that was most likely produced for Middle Eastern royalty. It’s dated to about 1974, during a period when these kinds of custom Arabic watches were quite common. Special watches from companies like Rolex and Patek Philippe were produced for kings and princes in many Middle Eastern countries during this time, including the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Dubai, and Saudi Arabia. These are some of the most interesting watches to collectors due to their rarity, unique designs, and royal provenance.

Although the details are not fully known, it is known that it was part of a batch of watches that were sent to the Middle East. By examining the dial, Phillips determined that the dial feet are unaltered, meaning that the dial itself has never been altered, indicating that it’s not a prototype or test watch. In addition to this, there are no holes where the hour markers are. As these holes customarily appear on all Singer dials, this is another indication that the dial was custom made for this watch, and is not simply a prototype.

There are many things that make this watch interesting. Firstly, the fact that there is most likely only one of its kind in the world is sure to get collector’s interest. It’s also a variant that doesn’t only consist of small differences in the dial, but in a very unique look. The main thing that strikes the viewer at first are the large Arabic-Indic numerals, painted in white lacquer. In contrast with the usual 6263, there is no tritium on these markers so the watch is not luminescent. These numerals really change the appearance of the watch dramatically, giving it a very unique appearance. Some may find this more tasteful than the custom Middle Eastern watches with national emblems, that are not to everyone’s taste.

Another point of interest is that it has a so-called sigma dial, indicated by the sigma-like symbols on either side of the ‘T SWISS T’ text at the bottom of the dial. These symbols indicate the use of gold components in the watch. In this case, white gold is used for the crown. These dials are special to collectors not for the gold they refer to but because they are very rare.

It is possible that this watch inspired a more recent Rolex; a platinum Day-Date 40 sold in the Middle East that also had Arabic-Indic numerals. The hour markers on this watch are almost identical to those we see on the Arabian Knight, meaning that perhaps it is of historical importance in the development of this Rolex line.

Interestingly, a platinum Daytona that has very similar Arabic numerals was released at the watch fair Baselworld only a few months before this historic sale of the ‘Arabian Knight’. If you love the way the watch looks, this watch is the one to go for.

Rolex 6263 FAP

A number of special 6263s were made for the Peruvian Air Force. They go by many names, including 6263 Peruvian Air Force, 6263 Fuerza Aerea del Perú, and 6263 FAP. The third of these is an acronym formed from ‘Fuerza Aerea del Perú’, which means Peruvian Air Force. The Peruvian Air Force was founded in 1950 at a time when the country was strongly allied with the U.S. and the U.K. At the time of the 6263s release in 1969, this was changing as Peru moved towards an alliance with the Soviet Union. Despite the tensions, custom 6263s were made for FAP all through the ‘70s.

These are very interesting watches, and many experts believe that they are currently undervalued. Most unique versions of the 6263 are set to increase in value over the next few years, but this may be even more true for the 6263 Peruvian Air Force watches. If we take a look at some of the top auction results, we can see that they have tended to sell between the 20,000 and 100,000 mark. This is a lot, but nothing compared to some of the other categories of 6263.

The text ‘Fuerza Aerea del Perú’ is inscribed on the caseback in a Roman sans-serif typeface. Originally, this inscription had a black enamel filling, but this has either partly or fully faded away or been polished out in most examples. In addition to this, an Air Force ‘issue number’ is engraved on the caseback, but in almost all examples this has disappeared. It seems the engraving was very thin.

There are other unique and interesting features of 6263 FAP watches, including the fact that the subdials have silver gilt writing instead of the usual white writing. The background colour of the sub-dials has faded to brown in almost all examples, due to the particular pigment used in the paint on these watches. This ‘tropical’ feature is actually favoured by collectors and commands a premium. Unusually, the word ‘Daytona’ is usually absent from the dial. However, there are quite a few examples where this is not the case.

Rolex 6263 Tiffany

The Rolex 6263 Tiffany is a Daytona with reference 6263 that has had a special ‘Tiffany & Co.’ designation added just below the 12 o’clock ROC (‘Rolex Oyster Cosmograph’) signature. There are Tiffany dial variants for most Rolex watches, since the two companies at one point had a very strong association.

Tiffany signatures have appeared on the dials of some of the highest selling 6263s at auction. For example, on 10 November 2014, a ‘new old stock’ 18k yellow gold example sold for 185,000 Swiss Francs at Christies. Also, on 7 December 2017 a ‘Big Red’ 6263 sold for 175,000 U.S. Dollars.

Rolex 6263 Cartier

From the late ‘50s to the early ‘90s, particular high-class boutique stores were allowed to stamp their brand name on Rolex watches they sold. Most prominent amongst these were Tiffany and Co. and Cartier. With regards to the Rolex 6263 Cartier, the signature appears in classic Cartier font under the ROC (‘Rolex Oyster Cosmograph’) designation at the 12 o’clock position.

Most examples of 6263 Cartier watches date to the 1960s and ‘70s. Despite being rarer than the Tiffany dial 6263s, these Cartier-stamped versions generally sell for less at auction. However, they are still very valuable and interesting to collectors. It’s also increasing in collectability over time, and perhaps it will catch up with the Tiffany dial 6263s in time. An 18k Yellow Gold 6263 Cartier with Paul Newman dial was sold at Antiquorum in 2003 for CHF 80,500, and a stainless-steel Panda dial example sold three years later for CHF 82,600. One would imagine that if any examples came up at auction today the price would be much increased from this, in line with the ‘Daytona Mania’ we’ve seen in recent years.

Rolex 6263 Red Dial

The story of the red dial 6263 is a controversial one. For a long time, it was thought that no genuine examples existed, but at least one has now been found, and there may be more out there. If you find one and can prove it’s genuine you may be in the money. Experts believe if they sell today, they might sell for CHF 1 million or more.

Although there was some disagreement, for years most collectors were sure that Rolex ever made a red dial Daytona. These watches regularly appear on the second-hand market. Although almost all of these use aftermarket dials, it is now generally accepted that there are some real examples in existence. These have come to be called the ‘Ferrari red’ Daytonas, due to the colour being similar to that of the famous sports car. This change occurred in 2003 when Antiquorum put some up for auction, claiming they were genuine. They supported this conclusion with official Rolex documentation such as service guarantees and letters of authentication.

Through their research, they determined that in 1979 Rolex had made some experimental dials for reference 6263 and 6265 watches in three colours, one of which was red. These were undoubtedly prototypes made to test the watch’s viability. Singer often made prototypes for Rolex in this way. They estimate that between 8 and 22 red dial Daytonas were produced. This makes the red dial Daytona one of the rarest Rolexes in the world. What makes these even more desirable is the fact that it’s believed that they all have the references 6263 or 6265; the two most desirable Daytona references. All of those found have either white or black subsidiary dials, and all except for two have steel bezels.

Rolex 6263 Lemon Dial

;of the 6263 lemon dial is very similar to the story of the 6263 red dial. There were rumours of both for decades, but watch collectors were reticent to believe a genuine example existed. This has all changed in recent times due to a string of extraordinary auctions, where 6263 Paul Newman Daytonas with both of these rare dial configurations have sold for extraordinary sums. Of the two configurations, the lemon dial takes the cake. In fact, they are some of the most expensive selling Daytonas of all time.

All examples sold have the classic Paul Newman dial with the square markers in the subdials. They also all appear in yellow gold watches. Yellow Gold 6263s typically have a cream dial, but here the dial is a pale yellow colour. The outer minute track also has this same yellow hue. To many collectors, the muted yellow hue complements the gold colour of the case. It’s not a bright gaudy shade of yellow, and so it fits with the classic Daytona aesthetics. Many feel that this rare dial gives the watch a more casual feel, whilst still retaining the elegance of the classic Daytona design. For those who have been collecting vintage Daytonas for years, this breathes fresh life into a watch they thought they knew everything about.

Italian collectors gave the watch the nickname ‘limoncello’, in honour of the delicious lemon flavoured Italian liqueur. However, more widely it is referred to as a lemon dial Daytona. They are also grené dials, which means that it has a particular type of fine-grained texture. They also feature the ROC designation (‘Rolex Oyster Cosmograph’) at the 12 o’clock position, and no ‘Daytona’ designation above the 6’oclock subdial. The subdials are black but in ‘tropical’ examples they have sometimes turned a nice brown.

Unusually for yellow gold Daytonas, the printing on the subdials is white. This colour works very well on the watch, contrasting strongly with the black background. This increases the legibility of the writing on the subdials whilst providing a clear and clean aesthetic.

All examples that have surfaced have been dated to around 1969, at the very beginning of the reference’s history. This was an experimental period for the reference, where a number of prototype dials were made. This, combines with the rarity of the dial, has led collectors to conclude that the lemon dial 6263s were also prototypes. In fact, the serial numbers are so early that some believe these are the very earliest 6263s to be produced.

There are also 6264s with lemon dials, and these are just slightly less rare than their 6263 cousins. They were manufactured at roughly the same time, probably in 1969 or thereabouts. They have sold for up to 871,500 U.S. Dollars, which is a staggering amount. However, it’s nothing compared to the CHF 3,722,000 a 6263 lemon dial sold for, equivalent to about 3.9 million U.S. dollars at the current exchange rate. This is perhaps not surprising, as the 6264 is not as sought after by collectors compared with the vaunted 6263. Perhaps, if you can’t afford a lemon dial 6263 (which is true of almost everyone), perhaps the 6264 offers a ‘budget’ option, if you can call $871,500 budget.

Interestingly, the dial configuration of the two differ. On the lemon dial 6264 has ‘Daytona’ in an arc above the 6 o’clock register and lacks the ‘Oyster’ designation, whereas the 6263 version has the ROC designation and no ‘Daytona’. These differences give these watches quite a different look, and someone might prefer one over the other. However, if money talks, most prefer the 6263 version.

The auction of a 6263 lemon dial in May 2013 by Antiquorum did a lot to bring this magnificent watch to the attention of collectors. At the time, the final sale price of CHF 841,300 was unprecedented. However, this was nothing compared with what happened four years later, when Phillips sold a very similar watch they donned ‘the Legend’. It was given this nickname due to the almost mythical nature of this dial configuration. It was a dramatic auction, and famously the man who bought it left the room before the sale was completed. He turned around just in time to hear the final confirmation, and then was the first to leave.

In the end, it went for around CHF 3,722,000; the largest amount paid for any Daytona in a public auction up to that point. It was also the second largest amount for any Rolex, next to the CHF 5,066,000 paid for the ‘Bao Dai’ 6262 which was sold in the same auction at Phillips in May 2017. Of course, this increase has to be seen in the light of the general explosion of interest in Daytonas as a whole, and especially of rare variants such as the lemon dial. However, nonetheless it is an extraordinary increase in price.

Interestingly, on both the Antiquorum and Phillips watches the caseback is stamped 6239; the first Daytona reference. It is quite normal for cases from other models being used on early production 6263s, and this is actually looked for as a sign of authenticity by collectors.

During this same time period, lemon dial 6264s have also been sold for large amounts at auction, including one at Sotheby’s on 2 April 2018, and two at Christies on 15 May and 21 June 2017. An interesting twist in the story of the lemon dial Daytona came in the one at Sotheby’s, whose authenticity was publicly challenged. It was said that the typeface of the case number engravings was incorrect. This got the watch forums discussing all of the technical details.

Rolex 6263 Tribute

This is not strictly a variant of a Rolex watch, but is interesting enough to include here. Les Artisans de Genève is a relatively new company that is making waves in the watch collecting community. They are a group of highly skilled watchmakers from Geneva, Switzerland who recreate landmark watches from the history of watchmaking. The results are not exact replicas as they usually add their own personal touch to them. The watches have very limited production runs; usually in the tens. The topic of homages or tributes is a controversial one in the watch collecting world, but there’s no doubt that Les Artisans are skilled at what they do.

They have released two tribute watches for the 6263, that they call ‘Tribute to Rolex 6263 I’ and ‘Tribute to Rolex 6263 II’. The first of these was the very first watch that the company released. The watches were produced by taking a reference 116520 Daytona and customising it to resemble the classic 6263. Ten of them were produced with black dial, and ten with silver dial. The result was sold for $22,458, and it does look very much like an authentic vintage piece. The company says that their aim was ‘to provide all enthusiasts with the specificities of the icon that is the Rolex Daytona 6263 while preserving the reliability of today’s Rolex 116520 model.’

Although the watches are called a tribute to the 6263, it might be better to think of it as a tribute to the four-digit reference Daytonas in general. There are some major differences from the 6263, such as it having pump rather than screw down pushers. The screw-down pushers are one of the defining features of the 6263 so this makes the watch much more than a simple replica. Another defining feature of the 6263 is the Valjoux 727 movement, and this is also absent of course.

They used a Bakelite bezel rather than the steel or ceramic found on most modern Rolexes. It has a ‘big red’ dial, meaning that the ‘DAYTONA’ designation appears larger than usual. The 116520’s Rolex 4130 movement has also been modified. They added a 21ct gold rotor with the company’s name engraved on it. This can be seen through the transparent case back. They also added a gold balance bridge. The hands, case and other components have been expertly machined and finished.

Celebrities

Since the Rolex 6263 is such a desirable watch, it’s not surprising that quite a few celebrities have one in their collection 

Paul Newman is one of the finest actors of his generation, having starred in such films as ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ and ‘The Sting’. He took to race car driving after starring in the film ‘Winning’. While shooting this film he received a black-dial 6239 from his wife Joanne Woodward. It has an engraving on the case-back reading ‘Drive slowly’ ‘Joanne’.

The Daytona was popular with race car drivers at this time, but not with the general public. Newman wore the watch almost every day, and his ambassadorship became very important in the history of the Daytona line. He received a 6263 from his wife at a later date, with another engraving. He can be seen wearing it on a photograph taken at some point from 1983 to early 1984, so he must have had it at the same time he owned the famous 6239.

Ryan Seacrest is a very familiar face to viewers of American television. He has hosted TV shows such as ‘American Idol’, and is also a well-known news anchor for the E! network. Seacrest has been spotted wearing a stainless steel 6263 ‘Big Red’ with a standard white dial in press photos and at numerous events. He was spotted wearing the watch at the 2016 Academy Awards.

Eric Clapton is one of the most acclaimed rock guitarists and singer-songwriters who ever lived. He was in the seminal bands ‘The Yardbirds’ and ‘Cream’ and had a successful solo career. In the late ‘90s, he bought a rare ‘Albino’ 6263. When it was auctioned by Sotheby’s it sold for five times its estimate. It was auctioned again by Philips in 2015 and sold for $1.4 million, breaking the world record a Rolex auction up to that point.

Daniel Craig is a successful actor best known for playing James Bond. Although Omega is the official sponsor of the James Bond franchise, Daniel Craig has quite a few Rolexes in his collection. He was spotted wearing what looks like a steel 6263 with white dial during an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He was photographed wearing the same watch on the red carpet.

John Mayer is an eminent singer in the contemporary rock genre. He has sold several platinum albums. Watch lovers have also noticed his remarkable collection, including several vintage Daytonas. John Mayer showed off his standard black dial 6263 to Hodinkee’s Benjamin Clymer.

Adam Levine is most famous as the lead singer of the pop-rock band ‘Maroon 5’. He is also a judge on NBC’s hit show ‘The Voice’. The singer has more than one Daytona in his collection, and has been spotted wearing a yellow gold 6263 with black standard dial.

French actor Jean Paul Belmondo was one of the biggest film stars in French ‘New Wave’ cinema, starring in such seminal films as ‘Breathless’. He wore a stainless steel 6263 with black standard dial throughout his career. It was also worn by his son Paul Belmondo, who is a Formula 1 driver. The watch was sold in 2013 by the auction house Christies in it’s ‘Lesson One’ auction.

Federer was spotted with a steel black dial 6263 at a US Open press conference. There was some doubt about whether this really was a 6263, but the watch blog Hodinkee managed to prove that it is. The watch was given to him as a gift by his wife for his 30th birthday. It is dated to 1981, fairly late in the reference’s history. 

Videos

Here is a selection of some of the most interesting videos online that feature the Rolex 6263