Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last few months, it can’t have escaped your attention that Paul Newman’s legendary Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is going to hit the auction stand in New York, with some industry experts said that it will break all known records and become the most expensive Rolex ever sold.
In order to do that, it will have to outshine the replica watches belonging to the last emperor of the Nguyen dynasty in Vietnam that achieved a staggering $5 million earlier this year. So, how could that watch, a one-of-a-kind, diamond-enhanced piece belonging to bona fide royalty, potentially be beaten into second place by a comparatively mass produced example that the replica Rolex was struggling to even give away when it was introduced in the late sixties?
Of course, the answer is the original owner. With his insouciant good looks, understated masculinity and hard working intelligence, he was the living personification of everything the Rolex poured into the Daytona.
That first generation model, given to Newman by his wife Joanne Woodward to mark the start of his professional motor racing career in 1972, has been cited as releasing the vintage cheap watch market as we know it today.
The mythical example going under the hammer on October 26th, in Phillips’ maiden New York auctions, is the first Daytona cheap replica watch to be sold that was worn by the man himself. Will it break the record? Time will tell the truth. For now, let’s take a quick look at what might just be the most significant vintage watch in the world.
Paul Newman began a life-long love affair with motor racing during the filming of the 1969 movie Winning. While it was extremely a forgettable outing, it ignited a passion for the sport that saw him turn pro three years later after training with the likes of double Indianapolis 500 winner Roger Ward. Before long, Newman was scheduling his movies around races, preferring the genuine excitement of the track to the phoniness of Hollywood.
And he was no slouch. He finished fifth in the replica Rolex Daytona 24-hours in 1977 and second at Le Mans two years later. He still keeps the record for the oldest driver to win an officially sanctioned race when, in 1995, he was co-driver for the winning team at the Rolex 24-hour race at age of 70th.
That legendary watch, cutely engraved on the back with ‘Drive Carefully, Me’ by his anxious spouse, accompanied him as a good luck charm throughout his early career until the mid-eighties.
Rolex’s Submariner is a watch that always in no need of an introduction. Even those that are entirely new to the world of luxury timepieces have likely heard of the Submariner – or at the very least, seen one on the wrist of James Bond in one of the early 007 films.
The replica Rolex’s Submariner helped pioneer the cheap watch market, which was first introduced during the early 1950s, and design elements of the Submariner can be found on almost every dive watch which is manufactured today. While the Submariner was originally only craft from stainless steel, the fake Rolex now produces their iconic dive watch with both Rolesor (stainless steel and gold), and solid 18-karat gold options.
However, there are still many people who eager to own a more premium version of Rolex’s legendary SCUBA divers’ watch, but who also do not want to commit to a solid gold timepiece for everyday use. The Rolex Submariner replica watch is an excellent choice that combines both stainless steel and gold to create an appearance that is both rugged and luxurious.
One of the most iconic Rolex watches of all time is the Rolesor Submariner with blue dial and bezel insert. This combination of colors makes for an almost nautical aesthetic that serves as an ever-present reminder that the fake Rolex designed this watch for serious aquatic use. Rolex manufacturers Rolesor Submariners with either black or blue dials and bezel inserts, and while black makes for a slightly more formal and versatile appearance, the blue dial and insert combination is only available on the Submariner, and has become synonymous with Rolex’s legendary line of dive watches in the end.
The style and finish of the blue “Sunburst” dial is very similar to the silver or champagne colored dials frequently found in a number of the fake Rolex’s other, non-sport watch lines; however its dark blue color and contrasting white hour markers create the illusion of a greater depth when the dial is installed inside a watch.
One of the hallmark traits of the Rolesor Submariner is its blue “Sunburst” dial. Unlike the flat blue dial found inside the 18-karat white gold “Smurf” Submariner, the blue “Sunburst” dial has a somewhat iridescent quality that shifts its color in a prismatic fashion as it catches incoming light from different angles.
Rolex replica watches briefly tried switching the Rolesor Submariner’s blue dial to a flat blue variant in an attempt to better match its Cerachrom bezel insert. However, following a mixed reaction from the public, they quickly changed back to the traditional “Sunburst” style dial within just a couple years of making the initial switch.
Although this cheap replica watch comes at an increase in price over the regular stainless steel version, this premium rendition is everything we have come to love about Rolex’s iconic dive watch in a more elegant and luxurious package. The classic stainless steel Submariner is one of the most famous and instantly recognizable watches of all time, and the replica Rolesor Submariner with blue “Sunburst” dial is almost equally as iconic, since the blue dial and bezel insert combination is only available on Rolex’s Submariner line of watches.
Consult any replica Rolex collector or enthusiast what their favorite brand is, and you will find that terms like ‘understated’ and ‘reserved’ will make up at least some of the conversation. The unobtrusive, almost minimalist design of models such as the Submariner or the Datejust have always been favored by people content with displaying only the most modest outward expression of their good taste.
The fake Yacht-Master II is not one of those designs. Actually it is a huge, extrovert of a cheap replica watch that’s outrageous in concept and screaming for attention.
It’s a massive departure for the fake Rolex, the brand that, perhaps more than any other, exemplifies that discreetness for which the Swiss are so notable. The Yacht-Master II collection has a polarized opinion since its launch in 2007. There have been subtle upgrades that marked its 10th birthday celebration, which have done nothing to quell the debate.
Let’s take a look at one of replica Rolex’s most controversial, technically impressive, and incredibly specific offerings. Despite its title, the Yacht-Master II is a completely new model rather than an update to the original Yacht-Master watch. That previous namesake, launched in 1992, had very little to justify its moniker other than the standard Oyster waterproofing. There were no explicit functions aimed at making life on the ocean waves any easier.
A watch for those interested and partaking in yachting. (Credit: Monochrome.com)
Ok, so that’s a pretty niche problem, but it does exist and the solution Rolex manufactured is nothing short of spectacular. Even the Yacht-Master II’s detractors agree that its unique complication is simply remarkable.
The Yacht-Master II on the other hand, was designed to solve that age-old problem we’ve all struggled with on so many occasions—timing the starting sequence of a sailing regatta!
With only several exceptions, such as the Daytona’s chronograph movement and the annual calendar on the Sky-Dweller, the replica Rolex has rarely included complications beyond a date feature into its catalogue. So the ultra-complex programmable countdown with mechanical memory on the Yacht-Master II is all the more fascinating.
The start of a regatta is a convoluted affair, generally involving a few distinct phases, and having a way to accurately coordinate the timing of each stage is vital. With the wind being what it is, yachts can’t just sit at the beginning line of a race waiting for the off. Skippers have to maneuver their boats back and forth without crossing the line for a specified length of time before the race begins, usually between five and 10 minutes.
The start of this countdown is signaled by a gunshot and is followed by two further preparatory signals at set intervals to permits crews to coordinate their approach. Cross the start line too early and they’ll incur a penalty, too late and they risk bringing up the rear for the rest of the proceedings.
This was the multifaceted problem facing the fake Rolex. It wasn’t enough for the Yacht-Master II just to be able to measure intervals of time. Due to the nature of a regatta’s starting procedure and the split-second timing involved, skippers need to be able to synchronize their replica watches with the race’s official countdown timer ‘on-the-fly’.
Watches with quartz movement can be pretty special. Not many mechanical watch fans can get behind battery-powered movements, but like it or hate it, quartz is a main part of watchmaking history and the Beta 21 is surely worth discussing. Longtime readers might remember a little thing Jack and I put together called “Quartz Week,” a series of stories dedicated to all things quartz. Quartz Week was not actually well-received, but it was necessarily educational. One story I wrote was a list of the most collectible Beta 21 watches, and one of those watches was the replica Rolex. I was fortunate enough to see one in the metal recently at Christie’s, because they have a white gold version coming up for auction in Geneva on Monday.
To begin with – the Beta 21 movement is amazing. While it is kind of a pain to actually maintain, it is a truly historical part of watchmaking that’s also just flat out fun. In case you don’t know what the Beta 21 is (no judgement), here is a brief history. The main goal was for the caliber to be as accurate as possible, but alas, the results were not as great as the CEH had hoped. The Beta 21 was implemented in a range of wristwatches from the Patek Philippe to the IWC Da Vinci to a few strange Piaget models. However, as far as I am concerned, the Beta 21 is all about the Rolex.
The one was first released in 1970, and one year after the Beta 21 was completed. It’s unclear exactly how many examples were made between 1970 and 1972, when the model was discontinued. As with many things concerning with vintage fake Rolex, it’s hard to know figures for certain since Rolex will neither admit nor refuse in most cases.
The watches are individually numbered and there are pieces known to exist with numbers over 1,000, but there are a few schools of thought as to how many total pieces exist and what the yellow gold/white gold split is like. One theory is that there were just over 700 examples made in yellow gold and just over 300 examples made in white gold. Another is that there are closer to 900 in yellow and 100 in white. In the end, some suggest that there are actually two batches of these watches, with 900 in yellow and 100 in which in each batch, with 2,000 existing in total. No matter how you cut it, it’s safe to say that a white gold is a rare sight.
The white gold you see is in new-old-stock condition. This is unusual for any watch, let alone a Beta 21 Rolex. It features a heavy white gold case with a fluted bezel and a tenacious bracelet with faceted links. The replica Rolex always seems to make the best bracelets, and this unusual one is no exception. This watch is estimated to sell for CHF (approximately the same in dollars), which is much higher than what we’ve seen these watches fetch in previous years. I chalk it up to the condition, rarity, the fact that it is a historical piece, and that it is accompanied by a 1986 service invoice and green hang-tag.
The market for these watches has also increased drastically over the past three to four years. As you can see, there is a huge discrepancy between the two, and the only conclusion I can draw from these results is that because the example at Sotheby’s from 2014 was a full-set, and two bidders must have wanted it desperately.
This fake has to be up there as one of my favorite Rolex. There is something so refreshing about the case and bracelet design, and while it isn’t the most attractive Rolex per se, I have to say its ugliness is part of its appeal. Also, I think that owning a watch that was Rolex’s first quartz watch and the brand’s first watch with a sapphire crystal makes it super cool. But, maybe that’s just me.