Basel Tales of Time and Craft

  • The Rolex Reference 6239, a timepiece that has long captivated watch enthusiasts and collectors, recently made headlines by achieving an astounding $952,500 at Phillips The New York Watch Auction: X, held on June 8-9, 2024. This remarkable sale underscores the enduring allure and value of vintage Rolex watches, particularly those with unique histories and iconic designs.

    The Historical Significance of Rolex Ref. 6239

    The Rolex Ref. 6239, introduced in the early 1960s, is one of the most celebrated models in the brand’s storied history. Known as the first Rolex Daytona, it marked the beginning of the brand’s association with the world of motorsports. This reference was designed with a tachymeter scale on the bezel and a simplified dial, making it a favorite among racing drivers for its precise chronographic functions.

    One of the most notable aspects of the Ref. 6239 is its association with Paul Newman, the legendary actor and racing enthusiast. Newman’s own Ref. 6239, gifted to him by his wife, Joanne Woodward, became iconic after he was frequently seen wearing it. The model he wore featured an exotic dial, now famously known as the “Paul Newman” dial, distinguished by its Art Deco-style numerals and contrasting sub-dials.

    The Auction Highlight: Phillips The New York Watch Auction: X

    The recent auction held by Phillips in New York was a highly anticipated event, attracting collectors and watch aficionados from around the globe. The highlight of the auction was undoubtedly the sale of the Rolex Ref. 6239. The watch, in pristine condition and complete with its original box and papers, generated significant buzz leading up to the event.

    Why the Rolex Ref. 6239 is So Valuable

    Several factors contribute to the high value of the Rolex Ref. 6239. Firstly, its historical importance as the inaugural model of the Daytona series gives it a unique place in horological history. Secondly, the association with Paul Newman adds a layer of celebrity provenance that significantly enhances its appeal. Watches with the “Paul Newman” dial are particularly prized, often fetching higher prices than their standard counterparts.

    Moreover, the rarity and condition of the watch play critical roles. The Ref. 6239 sold at the Phillips auction was preserved in exceptional condition, with its original components intact. Such pristine examples are rare, making them highly desirable to collectors.


    The sale of the Rolex Ref. 6239 for $952,500 at Phillips The New York Watch Auction: X is a testament to the enduring legacy and desirability of this iconic timepiece. Its blend of historical significance, celebrity association, and exceptional craftsmanship continues to captivate and inspire collectors worldwide. As vintage Rolex watches like the Ref. 6239 become increasingly scarce, their value and allure are likely to keep climbing, solidifying their status as treasured pieces of horological history.

  • In the world of horology, few creations can rival the mystique and elegance of Cartier’s Single Axle Mystery Clock, the “Pendule Mystérieuse.” Recently, this horological masterpiece took center stage at the Phillips New York Watch Auction: X, held on June 8-9, 2024, where it fetched the highest bid, reaffirming its status as a sought-after collector’s item.

    A Historical Marvel

    The mystery clock’s origins date back to the early 20th century, a time when Louis Cartier decided to make watchmaking a cornerstone of his brand. Inspired by the pioneering work of French illusionist and clockmaker Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, Cartier’s master watchmaker Maurice Coüet devised the first mystery clocks in 1912. These clocks, with their hands seemingly floating in space, became known as “miracles of horology”​..

    Exquisite Craftsmanship

    The Single Axle Mystery Clock from 1926 exemplifies Cartier’s dedication to precision and artistry. Standing at 27.5 cm tall and 13.5 cm wide, and weighing 7.8 pounds, this clock is a blend of gold, jade, onyx, turquoise, lapis, and rock crystal. The hour markers are set with diamonds, and the dragon-shaped hands, a nod to Asian motifs, appear to defy gravity as they float over the transparent rock crystal discs​.

    The Auction Highlight

    At the Phillips New York Watch Auction: X, the Pendule Mystérieuse was one of the star attractions. Collectors and horology enthusiasts eagerly anticipated its sale, and it did not disappoint. The clock’s intricate design and historical significance drove a competitive bidding process, culminating in a high bid of $1,047,750. This sale not only underscores the clock’s value but also highlights its enduring appeal​.

    In conclusion, the Cartier Single Axle Mystery Clock “Pendule Mystérieuse” remains a testament to the ingenuity and artistry of early 20th-century horology. Its recent auction success is a reminder of the timeless allure that such masterpieces hold for collectors around the world.