Article By: Logan Hannen

What is up watchfam! Today, we’re going to take a look at one of the questions that nearly every collector has early on in their collecting careers: which Rolex is the most expensive?

For starters, we have to determine our criteria, because there are really two ways to look at this. On the one hand, you have the Rolex retail prices (i.e., the price on the tag when you go into a shop to buy one). On the other hand, you have things like auctions, such as Christie’s, and private sales, whether on sites like eBay or through dealers. When you get into this world, things get a bit more convoluted, but we’ll get there in a second.

So let’s start with the Rolex pricing. The hands down, no contest winner of this title is the Rolex GMT Master Ice (ref. 116769TBR), a member of the GMT Master range featuring an 18k white gold case and bracelet, totally embedded with diamonds from top to bottom. It also features, as the name might suggest, a wave pattern dial that is equally inset with diamonds. Rolex doesn’t go nuts with factory diamonds much, but when they do, they tend to price them on the higher side. This piece’s recommended retail price: $485,350.00, making it the most expensive factory Rolex in history.

Now, when you get into the world of auctions and private sales, we have to rely on information that is publicly accessible. I’m sure that somewhere, someone sold a Rolex for hundreds of millions, and we just don’t know it, but based on what we do know, the most expensive Rolex sold at private auction is known as the Bao Dai, a reference 6062 that belonged to the last emperor of Vietnam. It sold at auction for a whopping $5,060,427. You can check out Christian’s reaction to the news here.

There is a new contender, though, and even the most conservative estimates of the piece’s selling price have it blowing the Bao Dai out of the water. That watch is Paul Newman’s Paul Newman Daytona, a Rolex model that is already highly collectable. When you factor in the fact that it actually belonged to its namesake…well, you can see where the value comes in. Andrew Shear, a pretty prominent vintage watch dealer in New York, said he could see the piece going for $10 million easy, with potential for a lot more if some serious collectors decide to get involved. Hodinkee has some excellent coverage of this major revelation, which you can check out here.

Well, that does it for us. Keep your eyes peeled here for more answers to some of your most burning horological questions. Until next time, keep it classy, watchfam.

(Cover image credit: Hodinkee)