#Horomyths: The Legend of the Unicorn Daytona
Who would’ve thought that a watch could ever sell for over a million? That there could be collectors engaging in paddle to paddle combat to overbid each other? That level of watch collecting has always mesmerized me... Is it for the triumph of overbidding their peers, of making a highly speculative investment or purely for the love of the object? All these reasons are as questionable as the provenance of the watches that break records, among which a perfect example, the controversial Rolex Unicorn Daytona...
Baptized the “Unicorn” Daytona, this Rolex reference 6265 is a legendary lesson of audacity and marketing of notorious dealers and auction houses into making a mystical beast come to life. Here’s the full story:
Unveiled as the piece de resistance of the Phillips “Daytona Ultimatum” Sale in Geneva on May 12th 2018 at an estimate of 3 to 5 million $, the watch was sold for $5’939’251 by the highly-esteemed collector John Goldberger, who over his long years of collecting, has curated the rarest and most exceptional timepieces that ever existed. Author of several books on vintage Rolex, Patek Philippe & Omega, he’s considered a main reference of the vintage watch world and with all the credibility that goes with it. In partnership with Phillips, Mr. Goldberger announced that the proceeds of this sale will go to charity, a very noble and generous way for a single watch to not only please its new owner, but to come in aid to those in need.
As always, behind every glorious story, there are certain details that are best kept secret, but as we’re passionate watch collectors, we live for the details.
What got me curious about the Unicorn was not only its record-breaking price ($5,9 million), making it the second most expensive Rolex ever sold (after Paul Newman’s Paul Newman that sold for $17,8 million), but because of a series of posts from a rather provocative & mysterious watch blogger on Instagram that whisteblows certain vices and/or questionable storytelling of powerful watch authorities and brands, all with his own humoristic touch. Known as NewOldSchlock, an amusing word play of the collector’s term “New Old Stock” (hence, our blog NOSville), the horological caped crusader unveiled the true origins of each spare part the Unicorn is made of, making Mr. Goldberger and Phillips Head of Watches Aurel Bacs suave and attractive version sound like someone sticked an ice-cream cone on a midget horse.
If you’ve had the chance to follow the hype when the existence of the Unicorn was unveiled, Goldberger openly stated that the watch was restored in the most meticulous way, making this watch more a product of the collector’s imagination rather than Rolex’s heritage. If you carefully look at the gallery that NewOldSchlock provided in comparison with the final product, then you will see that only the white gold case was the only element that was truly unique. The dial, the hands, the crown(which is in steel), the movement and even the funky bracelet were salvaged from other watches.
*UNCONFIRMED RUMOR*: I was told from a prominent and confidential source that Goldberger has found the white gold 6265 case a few years back at a watch fair in Parma that he paid 50’000 EUR (approx. $ 57’000).
If we add to this the cost of the other spare parts, if paid separately today would be worth at a grand total of 60k, the total cost of the watch must’ve been 110’000 - 120’000$. Now how do you get from there to nearly 6 million dollars?
Added Value vs. Hyper-Inflated Price: As a customer, a collector and a watch dealer, I conceive the idea of charging or paying a premium for the know-how, expertise and time invested in sourcing a certain timepiece. But where is the limit? Unfortunately this trend of sky-rocket prices has distorted the watch market and has increased the amount of “mystical” watches with a solid yet artificial story.
At the end, everyone loves a good fairy tale with a happy ending. A beautiful watch has been created, a record-price has been made & sick children have found the funding they needed to make a happier & better world. Point of this article, to bring awareness to all watch collectors that vintage watches is a very grey area that should be taken with an open mind. Educating yourself on watches will help you avoid making mistakes in acquiring certain pieces or on the contrary, help you identify what is truly special. This is what makes a Collector & a Watch Dealer ultimately great.