The Rarest And Most Expensive Rolex Watches Sold In Horological History
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The Rarest And Most Expensive Rolex Watches Sold In Horological History

The Rarest And Most Expensive Rolex Watches Sold In Horological History


Let’s set the scene. You’ve managed to strike that million pound deal in the boardroom, sold that hedge fund, or you’ve recently inherited a vast sum of money. Time to strike while the iron is hot. 

While you could blow it on a Lambo or Porsche that instantly loses value off the forecourt, take a second to read through the rarest and most expensive Rolexes and recoup the value you spend. 

If you haven’t had such fortune in inheriting an incredible sum of money, don't worry. You historical horophiles or celeb lovers can still discover and indulge in the incredible heritage and vintage stylings of each fascinating piece!

These Rolexes are expensive for a number of reasons. The most common factors being they are:

  • Owned by a celebrity,
  • Extremely limited in supply,
  • Made up of precious metals and feature jewels,
  • Great historical value,
  • Incredibly complicated.
  • Significant part of popular culture

Featuring collections like the Daytona, owned by Paul Newman to the GMT-Master that’s possessed by Marlon Brando, Chrono Hunter has excavated like a JCB to rigorously undertake the background work into the most expensive Rolex watches sold ever.

But first, for those who are short of time, we have collated our definitive list of the priciest models from Hans Wilsdorf’s timekeeping stable below;

Model Title

Price (GBP)

Daytona Paul Newman 6239

£14.2 million

Daytona Unicorn 6265

£4.7 million

GMT-Master 1675 - Marlon Brando Apocalypse Now

£4.17 million

Bao Dai 6062

£4 million

Oyster Daytona 6263 “The Legend”

£2.9 million

Daytona 6240 “The Neanderthal”

£2.4 million

6062 Pink Gold

£2 million

Milgauss 6541

£2 million

Antimagnetique 4113

£1.9 million

Daytona 6263 “Oyster Sotto”

£1.8 million

Rolex Ref. 4113 Stainless Steel

£1.758 million

Stainless Steel 6062

£1.752 million

Rolex Experimental Deep Sea Special No.1

£1.708 million

Cosmograph Daytona 6263 “The Arabian Knight”

£1.542 million

Daytona Albino 6263 - Eric Clapton

£1.118 million

Day-Date 18K Yellow Gold 1803 - Jack Nicklaus


Rolex Submariner 5513 James Bond


Rolex Submariner 5512 - Steve McQueen


Rolex Daytona Paul Newman 6239

The Rolex Daytona 6239, or the “Paul Newman”, was the first variation of the collection which to this day many enthusiasts put at the highest echelons of desirability.

Upon its release in 1963, it brought a revolutionary change in the form of a tachymetric scale on the bezel as opposed to the inner flange.

This was in stark contrast to most luxury sports watches during that era and instantly suggested that it was out to literally change the face of the industry. 

Source - Phillips-Auction

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In fact, it actually performed quite poorly. It would rest in the hands of Paul Newman to give it a new lease of life, following his acquisition of a model in 1972. It was given to Paul Newman by his wife Joanne Woodward when he took up racing for the film Winning in 1969. 

His variant features the exotic faces that many collectors go wild for. On this particular reference, it is believed there was an estimated production figure of only around 2,000 to 3,000 watches. 

On its back are the words “DRIVE CAREFULLY ME” which were inscribed by Paul Newman’s wife. It went up for auction in 2017 in a Phillips auction in New York named “Winning Icons” and became the most expensive Rolex ever sold for $17.8 million (£14.2 million)


Daytona Unicorn 6265

To earn the “Unicorn” title, you need to have a distinguishing feature that is completely separate to any other reference. Forget Piece Unique or terms like One of One. This is even more special than John Mayer's watches.

Source - Phillips-Auction

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The ref. 6265 is crafted out of white gold and is deemed to be the only white gold edition of the collection ever made. Most of the models were made out of stainless steel or 18K yellow gold, however in the early 1970s, this one off edition was specifically released. 

They are noted for having a black sigma aesthetic, opposing white chronograph counters and white gold hour markers as well as a matching precious metal bracelet that wasn’t originally provided with this watch.

Auctioned by avid watch collector John Goldberger, he sourced the bracelet from a 1507 Oyster Date, released around the same 1970s time period. 

Their heritage is kept quieter than the latest Moonswatch release, aside from that it was created during the 1970s and released to a German retailer. Just under the brand's most expensive Rolex pieces, they reached a Phillips auction in 2018 where it was sold for around £4.7 million. 


GMT-Master 1675 - Marlon Brando Apocalypse Now

If a watch becomes associated with a cultural legend, chances are that its value will most likely skyrocket!

Source - Phillips-Auction

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Turn in point the acting legend and Academy Award winner, Marlon Brando with none other than the infamous GMT-Master 1675. It was worn in the 1979 film Apocalypse Now as directed by Francis Ford Coppola. 

That’s right. The same movie that achieved the following cinematic laurels;

  • BAFTA Award for Best Direction
  • BAFTA Award for Best Actor In A Supporting Role, 
  • Golden Globe for Best Original Score 
  • Golden Globe for Best Director
  • David Di Donatello as Best Foreign Director

Who needs to have the most expensive Rolex with a portfolio like this!

Watched by millions, the film starred Marlon Brando playing the main character “Colonel Walter E. Kurtz”, a general who went rogue when fighting in Vietnam. In the film, he wore a GMT-Master ref. 1675 that was manufactured in 1972. 

It was engraved with “M.Brando” on the back as hand engraved by the man himself. Furthermore, this watch is extremely unique due to its missing bezel. He was asked to remove it during filming in order to add to the authenticity of the film and would stand out too much.

He refused, famously stating the line; “If they’re looking at my watch, then I’m not doing my job as an actor.” Well as Clark Gable once proclaimed, we don’t give a darn about it…we are here for the ref. 1675 only.

The filmmakers let Brando wear it if he opted to take off the bezel which he did. In 1995, Marlon gifted it to Petra Brando Fischer, his daughter after legally adopting her after becoming romantically involved with her mother, Carlone Barrett. 

In 1995, around 20 years after the film aired, Brando gifted it to his daughter following her graduation from Brown University in 1994.

He had a special pleasure in the GMT-Master and so gifted it to Petra with a letter reading; “This watch is like a tank. You can do anything you want to and it will keep on going. I want you to have it as a reminder of how proud I am of you.” What a sweet guy!

Petra gave it to her husband Russel on one of the most special occasions in anyone’s timeline…their wedding night in 2003. It has since been sold without its bezel and on a rubber strap. Featuring a Mark IV black dial with patina beige hour markers, there is a red GMT hand with a similarly beige arrow tip. 

In sublime condition, it sold at a Christie’s auction in 2023 for around £4.17 million. 


Bao Dai 6062

The Bao Dai title relates to the name of the last emperor of Vietnam.

Born in 1913, Bao Dai was the last ruler of the Nguyen Dynasty and he assumed the emperor position following the death of his father in 1925. In 1955, he was removed from his position of power and South Vietnam became a republic. 

Source - Phillips

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He travelled to Geneva to attend a conference seeking peace in Indochina in 1954 and stayed in a hotel named Hotel des Bergues, which happened to be opposite a dealer named Chronometrie Philippe Beguin.

Emperor Bao Dai went across and conversed with the staff, eventually asking to see the rarest and most precious luxury pieces ever made. 

They eventually produced the now iconic ref. 6062 which is crafted out of yellow gold and is one of three black dial variants. It features a triple calendar with a moonphase, and is the only edition to feature diamond markers as opposed to standard hour indices.

Classified as the most complicated and iconic Oyster case variants, it earns its timekeeping stripes by being directly associated with the last emperor of Vietnam and its unorthodox build in comparison with its horological brethren.

It became one of the most expensive Rolex watches ever sold for around £4 million when it was auctioned off at a Phillips auction in 2002.


Rolex Oyster Daytona 6263 “The Legend”

The Oyster Daytona ref. 6263, known as “The Legend” has been a part of some of the world's most established collections, including private collectors in Oceania, Europe and The United States. 

Source - Christie’s

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So, why is this watch so elusive and as revered as The Dalai Lama? It was understood amongst the horological community that no gold Cosmograph with screw down chronograph pushers existed when featuring Oyster Lemon Paul Newman style editions. 

However, this edition first emerged in 2013 and caused a ruckus amongst every manner of horophile. As part of the collection's very first reference, the 6263, it represented a watch from their era of experimentation, including new faced types and screw down or pump pusher variants. 

The Lemon relates to the gorgeous yellow sheen across its face that clearly differentiates from the cream dials. They also have white printing on the sub-counters, opposing the gilt aesthetic of the cream dial editions. 

With only a total of three watches like this found across the planet, they are rarer than the Patek Philippe ref. 1518. Maybe not the most expensive Rolex, but certainly a good looker, especially due to its links to the first Daytona reference and the highly desired Lemon face.

Things turned out not so sour for the owner of this model as it sold at a Christie's auction in 2022 for around £2.9 million. 


Rolex Daytona 6240 “The Neanderthal” 

To call someone a “neanderthal” is usually an insult, as Oxford defines as an uncivilised, unintelligent, or uncouth person, but for this watch, it’s a fantastic compliment to any collector!

Source - Phillips-Auction 

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The ref. 6240 first saw the horological light in 1965 where it was built purely out of stainless steel with an acrylic bezel (No Cerachrom here yet!) complete with a tachymetric scale.

It was known initially as the first “Cosmograph” variant of the Daytona to utilise screw-down chronograph pushers. 

While ref. 6240 was one of the predecessors to the great ref. 6263 and ref. 6265, its real glory lies in its highly unorthodox dial. It features a striking colour scheme which has never again been replicated by them.

The sub-counters are oversized and take up a large proportion of their respective spaces at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock. 

These sub-counters would later earn the title of “Big-Eye”. Due to their sizing, there simply isn't enough space to feature “Daytona” or “Cosmograph” references on the dial.

Designed before the influx and immense popularity of the Paul Newman exotic dials, the  “Neanderthal” black background and white chronograph together with outer seconds track status is a link to the early prototype era of the collection, including meddling with the dial. 

Featuring first series pushers that are made from brass and the classic twin-lock 700 series winding crown, it is a blueprint to the later Paul Newman exotic dial and the line we have today. Who needs the title of the most expensive Rolex when you can be the blueprint to an entire collection?

Released around 1965-66, this model sold at a Phillips auction in 2018 for around £2.4 million. 


Rolex 6062 Pink Gold

While the ref. 6062 is highly lauded by its own accord, this edition boasts a pink gold case alongside a fantastic star face.

Source - Christie’s

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The case is crafted into two pieces of waterproof Oyster casing. Made by Genex in Geneva, it is made out of a luxury pink gold material. The reason why this watch is so lauded is largely in part down to its glorious Stelline aesthetic.

With only six variants created for ref. 6062, the Stelline faces are noted for their beautiful matte grainé silvered finish which is complimented by a blue date scale and pink gold stars, complemented by luminous accents or separate luminous dots next to the stars.

And these watches certainly twinkle like the night sky.

At 6 o’clock, there is a moon phase complication which is made with a blue champlevé enamel on a gold plate. Oh yes, it was also supplied by famed supplier, Stern Frères. The pink gold case hour markers and hands are beautifully finished, pertaining to the quality of the timepieces. 

Created around 1952, these vintage watches showcase satin finishes along the screw down back and vertical brushing throughout. The classic Super Oyster crown is the personification of maintenance as per its prevalence in the 6062 references. 

It eventually sold at a Christie’s auction for around £2 million in 2023. 


Rolex Milgauss 6541

In 1956, the Milgauss ref. 6541 was released as the first iteration of the collection. Designed as a solution to the growing electronic world, it was originally crafted for scientists to wear to counteract magnetism. 

Source - Phillips-Auction

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Capable of resisting 1000 gauss, a record at the time, ref. 6541 is given a lightning bolt shaped seconds hand and a beautiful honeycomb black shade.

Love it or hate, this shockingly unique second hand has been causing more division than Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer at Prime Minister Questions. The circular hour markers and faceted triangular indexes provide more legibility while it utilises anti-magnetic alloys and an iron movement to form a faraday cage.

The faraday cage is a genius invention that blocks electromagnetic fields. Named after Micheal Faraday who first made one in 1836, the cage is fitted with a conducting material to counteract the electric charges.

They resist magnetism and it became the go-to watch for scientists from that point forward. 

Given a notable red triangle situated at 12 o’clock, they are instantly recognizable and defined by their utilitarian build. In addition, this red sheen was followed over to the Milgauss logo under 12 o’clock that earned an “oversized” title. 

This was sold at a Phillips auction in 2023 for approximately £2 million. 


Rolex Antimagnetique 4113

The Antimagnetique 4113 is of continual interest in the horological universe. Sure, it may not be as well known as a Submariner or a GMT-Master, but its role in furthering horology and being a highly desired collectable item simply cannot be underestimated. 

Source - Forbes

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It’s assumed that only 12 references of the 4113 have been released, bolstering the rarity of the pieces. Crafted out of stainless steel, this case number, 051’314 edition has never been offered to the public.

It’s been solely used to sponsor racing events, specifically to a group of teams and racers. 

They have therefore been kept firmly pressed to the chests of families and relations of these racing teams/drivers. We aren't too shocked about their dedication and enthusiasm to the racing world.

After all, a Rolex was on the wrist of Sir Malcolm Campbell when he broke land speed records in 1935 after hitting 276MpH with an Oyster on his wrist. They are also keen sponsors of Formula 1 and Le Mans

The silvered dial is given maximum legibility by including pink gold Arabic and baton hour markers. Furthermore, it has undergone a gentle patina, giving the watch a very vintage allure.

Sized at 44mm, the satin finished back and sides give them a delightful shine. This is counteracted by the mirror style polish on the bezel which draws the eyes into the centre of the dial.

This oversized, split seconds chronograph watch is a wondrous piece of horology that stems all the way back to 1942. Given limited numbers and a mysterious ownership history, the Antimagnetique 4113 sold at a Phillips auction for around £1.9 million in 2016. 


Rolex Daytona 6263 “Oyster Sotto” 

The Oyster Sotto has been described as a grail Daytona watch due to its rarity and legendary design that would make Vivienne Westwood’s toes curl with envy.

Source - Phillips-Auction

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This variation of the ref. 6263 comes as one version from a pair of Tropical Oyster Sotto dials. It is attained through ageing and the resulting patina shade of a chocolate brown.

Forget the 2023 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Openworked "Cactus Jack" which cost a mere $201,000 at retail. He’s far too late to the table when it comes to this sweet trend.

It’s rare to be in possession of an edition that not only has excellent patina qualities, but yields a fantastic chocolate brown shade, completely unlike any other colour used within the collection. 

The Oyster Sotto name is well earned due to the translation “Oyster Underneath”, linking to the placement of the “Oyster” text under the word “Cosmograph” based at 12 o’clock.

This style is one of the very first Paul Newman faces made for the Oyster-cased collection. This was accompanied by screw-down pushers which allowed for a fantastic level of water resistance in comparison with the pump pushers. 

The face goes one step further by featuring Art-Deco style Arabic numerals and squared markers which can be located within the sub-counters. This is a combination that is rarely used, therefore promoting the luxury of this oh so precious timepiece. 

The brown shade directly contrasts with the white sub-counters and red minute track along their periphery. There is a large “Daytona” text in red above the 6 o’clock chronograph sub-counter which keeps in tandem with the illustrious red minute track. 

Released in 1969, they feature the iconic black tachymetric scale alongside a brown patina and notable red Daytona and minute track. This beauty has vintage vibes written all over it. Originally released in 1969, they were sold at a Phillips event in 2016 for around £1.8 million. 


Rolex Ref. 4113 Stainless Steel

The ref. 4113 in stainless steel has quickly become iconic among collectors due to its knack of yielding incredible figures at resale..and its incredible degree of rarity. 

Source - Phillips

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This edition of the 4113 with a 051’318 case number was valued in 2011 for around CHF 1,035,000 which was the first watch to break the 1 million CHF price barrier.

It’s estimated that only around 12 have been released which certifies these watches are highly elusive. Furthermore, these are the only split seconds chronograph watches officially made by the Swiss brand!

With a 44mm case diameter, this is the largest wrist-watch made by the Genevan giant, yet it is incredibly ergonomic due to its sleek curves and stepped lugs.

Relating to the racing industry as they only gifted these watches to racers and their respective teams, this edition was first seen in 1991 and 2011 at Christie's and now in 2019 at a Phillips event.

The dial is given raised pink Arabic and baton numerals which have been given a graceful patina since its release in 1942. Displaying a satin finish alongside a mirror like bezel, they are beautifully presented.

Given a blue telemeter and black tachymeter next to each other on the periphery of the face, this oversized stainless steel split seconds chronograph is prime for any horophile. 

It sold at a Phillips auction in 2019 for around £1.758 million. 


Rolex Stainless Steel 6062

The 6062 is closely aligned with the Bao Dai, but it performs exceptionally well outside of its Vietnamese linkage!

Source - Phillips-Auction

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The 6062 was launched at Basel Fair in 1950, bringing with it the title of the first automatic wristwatch that utilised a date and moon phases, as well as being built within a waterproof case.

Available in a variety of materials, including steel, yellow and pink gold, the reference was noted for its array of dial styles. The most popular versions however, are those made out of steel. 

This edition features Arabic numerals at 3 and 9 o’clock, above the beautiful lacquered silver finish that takes up the centre of the piece. On its periphery, there is a gorgeous ivory grené outer ring that adds a different level of luxury and sophistication to the timepiece. 

Look to the top to spot the sharply designed day and date apertures side by side. They are recessed just like the moon phase which slightly drops below the face and touches the start of the hands. 

They use lume cleverly, but sparingly, choosing to utilise it just outside of the faceted relief hour markers that sit in between the Arabic numerals. The outer date ring that is red via an extra hour hand is blued and given classical Arabic numerals shaping.

Their authentic aesthetic pairs well with the rare steel case...

Operating a triple calendar with a two tone aesthetic and beautiful moonphase, the Rolex Stainless Steel 6062 was sold at a Phillips event for around £1.752 million in 2017. 


Rolex Experimental Deep-Sea Special No.1

The Deep-Sea Special No.1 could easily be lauded as the brand's most formidable invention. 

This is a highly experimental timepiece that may not have too much luxury, but it was designed to competently fight against the incredible water pressure of the deepest oceans.

As possibly the world's most influential dive watch, it is estimated that there are only 7 experimental pieces manufactured between 1953 and 1960. 

They have been focused on dive watches since the 1920s upon the release of the famous Oyster watches. They contacted Professor Piccard to ask if he could test their prototypes during his dive related expeditions. 

In 1952, they submitted their first prototype Deep Sea Special to Jacques Piccard. He accepted it and took it on later expeditions. It was given a special case and a domed crystal in order to battle the deep pressure.

It passed its first test at the ETH in Zurich and in 1953, was strapped to the outside of the Trieste where it broke the deep dive record with a 3,150 metre depth. 

It’s stated that two variations of the Deep Sea, The No.1 and No.2 were made to take part in the testing program, so it’s uncertain as to whether which one was strapped onto the side of the Trieste in 1953.

It’s likely to be this No.1 variant as it was reported that one of them was “distorted” during the testing phase and wouldn't have been used on the Trieste expedition. 

This watch was deemed to be around £1.708 million at a Christie’s event in 2021. 


Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 6263 The Arabian Knight

We don’t need Laurence of Arabia to recount the tales behind this epic Daytona.

Incorporating a slew of highly collectable watches that have the potential to vastly increase in value, perhaps the Arabian Knight ref. 6263 is the most unique reference from this distinguished collection. 

Source - Phillips-Auction

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The brand began to make custom pieces for the Arab States in the Gulf in and around the 1950s, following them making Arabic discs for the Day-Date watches. During the 1970s, they opted to bring in the collection to imbue some Arabic culture in the form of a fresh face. 

They released a black dial with Arabic-Indic numerals printed directly on, as opposed to the classical white gold markers. These reverse panda dial watches were specifically made for the Arab States and has its lineage closely aligned with the Royal Family in these territories. 

The dial was made by esteemed designer Singer who created these watches with no holes for the hour markers. This implies that the face was never supposed to utilise applied indexes and is testament to the authenticity and quality of the timepiece. 

They also use a Sigma aesthetic situated at 6 o’clock which relates to the white gold crown at 12 o’clock.

This watch was incredibly influential to the later Platinum Day-Date 40 with Arabic-Indic numerals sold only by Middle East retailers and owned by a certain gentleman named Tom Brady. And you know if it’s in his collection, this one is hot to trot. 

It sold at a Phillips auction in 2018 for around £1.542 million. 


Rolex Daytona Albino 6263 - Eric Clapton

Layla may have got him on his knees, but world renowned bluesman and rock’n’roll legend, Eric Clapton sent his beloved Daytona Albino to a Phillips event in 2015. The resulting figure was not surprising…

Source - Phillips-Auction

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The Albino edition of the ref. 6263 is only one of four examples of the white dialled Cosmograph watches which have sub-counters that are not black with white printing. Instead, they are given an identical silver finish to the plate.

It makes sense as to why horological critics and collectors have nicknamed it “Albino”. 

The 6263 dates back to 1971 when the line used MK1 pushers and bezel. It’s estimated that Eric Clapton purchased it in the 1990s and later had it auctioned at  Christie’s New York in 2003.

A few years later it was spotted at a Sotheby’s auction where it sold for a Cosmograph world record of 505,000 USD (around £398,000.)

Owned by an iconic gentleman who is ranked as one of the top 5 guitarists of all time and one of the most influential musicians of all time, his Albino watch is given a pitch black tachymetric scale and baton style hour markers. 

It sold at a Phillips auction in 2015 for around £1.118 million. 


Rolex Day-Date 18K Yellow Gold 1803 - Jack Nicklaus

Jack Nicklaus is one of the most respected sportsmen and golfers of all time. His sporting legacy is long and storied, including him becoming the first man to become the Masters tournament back-to-back winner in 1966 and the youngest two-time and three-time winner.

Outside of sport, he is the proud winner of The Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year in 1978, winning the Lifetime Achievement Award ESPY Award in 2001

Source - Phillips

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The Day-Date 1803 with its instantly recognisable President bracelet became a staple of Jack Nicklaus' wardrobe ever since he received it as a gift from Rolex back in 1967. 

The collection was launched in 1956 and captured the Zeitgeist for opulence and elegance found in luxury watches.

This edition is made out of 18K yellow gold and gets the nickname “Golden Bear” due to its rare champagne, pie-pan dial with faceted hour markers which cleverly combines with Jack Nicklaus nickname.  

It was worn for 12 out of 18 Major Championship Titles that he won during his illustrious career. When attending the Canada Cup in Tokyo in 1966, he was offered a watch of his choice by the Swiss brand during a cocktail event.

Gary Player suggested he choose a gold Day-Date and Jack Nicklaus opted to pick it. It was fitted with a Presidential bracelet, the same bracelet adorned by Lyndon B.Johnson, Trump and celebs like Jay-Z. 

He received the Day-Date ref. 1803 in 1967, the very same year he won his second U.S Open and set a U.S Open scoring record of 275. Later, Jack Nicklaus revealed that this was the first watch he consistently wore for over 50 years. 

Selling at a Phillips auction in 2019 for around £974,000, all proceeds of the sale went to The Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation. 


Rolex Submariner 5513 James Bond

The Submariner 5513 was an integral part of the film, “Live and Let Die”. 

Source - Phillips-Auction

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Seen by around 1 billion people, the film has not only certified James Bond actor Roger Moore as a legend of the 007 series, but cemented The Submariner 5513 as a part of James Bond history.

While Live And Let Die was made in 1973, the Submariner 5513 was released one year earlier in 1972 and underwent a host of modifications to keep the spy on his toes. 

Leading Art Director and designer, Syd Cain worked on over 30 movie projects and became the key figure behind designing and creating the gadgets used in James Bond.

Trust us when we say, we don’t need to shake or stir this model up to demonstrate how coveted it is. This Submariner was given a few incredible features such as a buzzsaw bezel that spun and could slice through ropes. 

How about the enhanced magnetic field that could deflect bullets and perform other bizarre feats like unzipping Miss Caruso’s dress and catching a spoon that fell from a saucer. Cheesy? Maybe, but that’s all part of old-school filmmaking. 

If you decide to open it up, you will see engraved “Roger Moore 007” as an ode to the actor's role in the film. The hour markers and hands now have patina, leaving a bronzed hue instead of the lume. 

It sold at a Phillips auction in 2015 for around £329,590. 


Rolex Submariner 5512 - Steve McQueen

Owned by none other than Steve McQueen, this Submariner 5512 was a fantastic watch that sold for approximately £183,750. 

Source - Rolex Forums

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There are many photos of him adorning the Submariner 5512, including on the set of Le Mans, and in the 1980 movie, Hunter. He wore the Submariner 5512 from 1967 which featured four lines of text on the dial which references that his model was chronometer certified. 

It turns out that the Explorer wasn’t actually the watch that he was famed for! The Submariner 5512 is fitted with a screw-down caseback and crown, boasts a black graduated bi-directional black bezel and a similarly black dial with lume filled hour markers and hands. 

The 40mm watch was a close favourite of Steve McQueen. However, due to his impending illness that would be his demise at age 50, he gave the watch to his good friend Jimmy Brucker in 1980.

Sure, it may not be the most expensive Rolex, but what price can you put on sentimental value?

The watches sold at Antiquorum auction in 2009 for around £183,750. 


Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Most Expensive Rolex Sold?

The most expensive Rolex sold is The Paul Newman Daytona ref. 6239. Selling at auction for around £14.2 million in 2017, they are noted for their exotic dial and associations with famed actor Paul Newman. Given an inscription on the back stating ‘DRIVE CAREFULLY ME” by Joanne Woodward, Paul Newman resurrected the collection from a poor sales record to one of the most sought after watches across the globe... 


Who Owns The Most Expensive Rolex Watch?

It’s understood that Cristiano Ronaldo owns the most expensive Rolex, The GMT-Master II Ice 116769TBR. Iced up as much as one of his post-match recovery baths, this tremendous timepiece is given 30 carats of diamonds and crafted out of 18K white gold. It has an estimated value of around £387,600, as of December 2023. As one of the most expensive watches within their catalogue, it would naturally have to be the G.O.A.T. of all GOATS to own such a storied piece!


What Rolex Sold For $2.5 Million?

The model that sold for $2.5 million was the Milgauss 6541 in 2023 at a Phillips event. In 1956, the Milgauss 6541 was the first release for the collection. It was a genius creation that was designed to support the growing electronic world and the scientists that closely dealt with it.  


What Is The No 1 Most Expensive Watch?

The most expensive watch of all time is The Graff Diamonds Hallucination. Crafted from 110 carats of coloured diamonds, including Fancy Green and Fancy Orange, they are housed within a platinum case. The diamonds are made up of a vast number of cuts which result in heart or pear shapings. The quartz dial is miniature, but you aren't buying this for legibility! This earns it an incredible price figure of around £43.1 million. 


Which Rolex Holds Their Value?

Their watches tend to hold their value across the board. This is due to a number of factors such as;

  • Brand Recognition
  • Desirability
  • Vintage/Discontinued
  • History
  • Links With Celebrities

They boast timeless designs like the utility build of the Submariner or the travelling inspired GMT-Master with its GMT design. This is further enhanced by all the current watches being Superlative Chronometer certified, offering an unparalleled level of accuracy.

They are a huge luxury brand, if not the biggest. Since their inception in 1905, they have not only become a symbol of wealth, but the epitome of a status symbol on numerous fronts.

From their in-house materials and movement to exquisite materials like Rolesor and Rolesium, their watches are adorned by a vast number of celebrity clientele including Jay-Z, Kevin Hart, Tiger Woods, Drake, Warren Buffett and many more. They are owned and respected by every cultural figure globally!

While they produce around 1 million watches per year, they still have waitlists that run for years (if not decades!), including 5 years for the Daytona and approximately 8 to 24 months for the Sky-Dweller.

They are the biggest luxury watch brand of all time with the highest sales revenue of around £7.6 billion in 2022. 



Take a deep breath, Timelords. We’ve finally reached the end! We’ve done you the service of exploring the rare and most expensive Rolex watches in the world while offering you the prices and when they sold at auction.

It’s easy to see why they have performed so well upon resale. Be it associated with celebrity icons or dosed up with every manner of a luxury precious metal and jewel, every single watch has thoroughly deserved their place on this exclusive rundown.

From Paul Newman’s expensive Daytona ref. 6239 with lusted exotic dial to the innovative Milgauss, we couldn’t forget the celebrity icons like Eric Clapton and Marlon Brando who have similarly taken the brand to giddying heights.

We’ve truly expended ourselves today. We hope you enjoyed reading our list of the rarest and most expensive Rolex watches throughout history.

With the Milgauss selling for such an impressive figure in 2023, we can foresee more luxury watches coming out of the timekeeping woodwork and selling for even bigger figures! 

Time is the biggest culprit when it comes to value, and we are sure that Rolex has many years left in their tank.

So, if you are looking to navigate past the waitlists like Christopher Colombus and are looking to buy a Rolex in record time like Paul Newman on a racetrack, why not consider Chrono Hunter for your next big purchase?

Want to buy a Rolex Submariner to have hands as steady as Steve Mcqueen? Looking to source a fresh piece with the confidence you are purchasing in a secure environment? Waste no time at all by chatting directly with Chrono Hunter here

Each sale or purchase is as unique as our loyal customers who have been appreciative of our consistent 5 star service. See for yourself as to why we are the essential source to buy a watch or sell a watch

We offer a plethora of offers from our established network of luxury retailers, allowing you to purchase or sell with the utmost confidence and security. Choose the deal that suits you and conclude the transaction with the retailer.

Furthermore, all of our services are tailor made to ensure you receive a personalised experience whereby our highly skilled staff at Chrono Hunter HQ are with you every step of the way until completion of the purchase or sale. 


Further Reading: 

Introducing The Quintessential Rolex Datejust Buying Guide - Chrono Hunter

A Collection Of The Very Best Luxury Watches From Wimbledon 2023


Buy Or Sell A Luxury Watch The Smart Way With Chrono Hunter

If you are considering your new purchase or perhaps the sale of a beloved timepiece, Chrono Hunter is the smart way to buy or sell a luxury watch.

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