Thursday, August 25, 2022

Lemon Paul Newman Daytona: Ultra rare


You might never expect to hear the word "Lemon" as a nickname for a Rolex. There is, however, an exception when one very special example of watchmaking history enters the conversation, like this exceedingly rare Rolex Daytona Paul Newman 6264 in gold.

The reference 6264 was not only a transitional model in production for only three years, but the pump pusher exotic dial combination is considered in the rarity realms of a prototype. Jake once said the design language of the 6264 is "a masterpiece of hyper-elegant simplicity." 

The known total production of the 6264 sits in the region of 3500, leaving potentially only 350 existing yellow gold models to ever be made or owned. It’s difficult to know how many have survived their 50-year-old lives but the low volume production is certainly the reason behind so few having ever appeared. There are about 11 known examples of a Lemon dial Paul Newman 6264 gold case.

This came up on my radar because for the first time this century, such a watch is being sold in the UK. As part of Sotheby’s September Fine Watches sale in London, this example from 1970 bears all the hallmarks of a highly-prized, collectible watch. Some would call it a true unicorn treasure.

The exotic lemon dial and pump pusher combination are really what makes this Paul Newman Daytona so special in its class. These exotic dials were only used by Rolex in a few of the gold Daytona references at the end of the 1960s before the Oyster case was introduced with screw-down crowns.

Including the exotic dials, the yellow gold 6264 was in a short three-year production at the tail end of the 1960s and into 1970s (1969-72) signifying a transition between the earlier reference 6262 and later references 6263 and 6265. The previous 6262 had an even shorter production run of one year in 1969-1970 and shared the pump pushers with the 6264. The later 6263 and 6265 embodied the Oyster case and screw down pushers. It is thought that the last exotic dial pump pusher ref. 6264 Daytonas were produced in 1971. All of the above used the calibre Valjoux 727.