The white gold Rolex Daytona Ref. 6265 is unique in that it is believed to be the only watch of that model made in white gold rather than yellow gold or stainless steel. It’s expected to sell for more than about $2.8 million in May.
Geneva--It’s safe to say that when it comes to watches, Rolex is one of the most sought-after brands. 

But even within the company’s lineup, there are those rare and special pieces that have collectors clamoring.

The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 6265 is one of those. Also known as “The Unicorn” because of its rarity, the watch is the only known white gold manual-winding Daytona ever produced.

It will headline Phillips’ thematic “Daytona Ultimatum” sale, which will offer 32 of the rarest and most sought-after Daytonas ever made by Rolex on May 12 in Geneva.

Until the discovery of the Ref. 6265, it was believed that Rolex only produced manually-wound Daytonas in stainless steel or 18-karat yellow gold, with some 14-karat yellow gold watches created for the U.S. market.

Rolex manufactured this particular one in 1970 and delivered it in 1971 to a German retailer, who, it is believed, had placed a special order for an exclusive client with enough means and influence to convince the watch brand to stray from its norm.

At the time of production, it was “very likely the rarest, most luxurious and special Cosmograph offered by Rolex,” Phillips said.

Though Rolex made plenty of watches in white gold in the 1970s, they were Day-Dates.

The decision to use white gold for a sports watch was more surprising, Phillips said—meant to be worn every day, it made more sense to be featured in a metal that was more forgiving when it came to wear and tear, like stainless steel.

The watch also features a black “sigma” dial with white gold indexes, consistent with the case metal. The crown, which is a different color than the case and pushers, is made from stainless steel, not gold.

The bracelet, white gold with a bark finish, is not the one that originally came with the watch. It was added by the current owner in place of a leather strap, and comes from a white gold Ref. 1507 Oyster Date.

Service marks left on the caseback between 1971 and 2010 also suggest the watch was returned to Rolex on several occasions, and in some cases, sent back to Rolex Geneva.

The white gold Ref. 6265 has been in the private ownership of collector John Goldberger, who discovered the watch about eight years ago, knowing he had stumbled upon something special when he picked it up and felt the weight of its metal.

Goldberger and the watch both were featured in an episode of “Talking Watches” on Hodinkee in 2013.

The collector has always maintained, up to now of course, that the Daytona would never be for sale, given its irreplaceable status.

But that changed once he realized that so much good could come from its sale.

Now, it’s hitting the auction block for the first time and its sale will benefit Children Action, a foundation dedicated to helping the lives of youths across the world.

It is expected to sell in excess of 3 million Swiss francs (about $2.8 million at current exchange rates).

Vintage Rolex watches have been selling for quite a premium lately.

In October, Phillips put Paul Newman’s Rolex Ref. 6239 Cosmograph Daytona on the block and the watch went for a record-setting $17.8 million.

Earlier in 2017, the Bao Dai Rolex—purchased in 1954 for an unknown amount by Nguyen Phuc Vinh Thuy, the last emperor of Vietnam—garnered $5 million.

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