On October 26th, without a single paddle in the room being raised, Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona became the most expensive wristwatch ever sold.
This was the watch. It had transcended its function as a timekeeping tool and entered the realm of bona fide cultural icon. It was as well known to those who can tell a 6263 from a 6241 model and the timepiece layman.
High-value wristwear auctioneer extraordinaire Aurel Bacs took to the podium at six o’clock sharp. An expected bid of $1 million was announced. No sooner had Bacs said this, and in a moment of drama befitting the magnitude of the occasion, Tiffany To, a Geneva-based specialist representing an anonymous Asian client, stunned the assembled would-be purchasers by announcing that the stakes had immediately been raised on eye-watering $10 million. All those in the room with their special white paddles indicating they willing to bid now found them rendered useless, and two phone bidders exchanged blows until the record-breaking fee of $17,752,500, inclusive of buyer’s fees, was reached.
If there was ever going to be a watershed-moment-inducing watch, it was this one. But the real question that its sale leaves is where do we go now? After you’ve auctioned off the Holy Grail, how quickly can you find the Ark of the Covenant?