Rolex GMT-Master II Ice – USD 5.5 million

Enter the dazzling Rolex GMT-Master II Ice, a product that bewitched both watch enthusiasts and auction-goers with its staggering USD 5.5 million price tag. This timepiece boasts a white gold case adorned with a stunning 30 carats of brilliant-cut diamonds, extending even to the dial and bracelet. Its design and opulence make it a true statement piece, showcasing Rolex’s exceptional ability to blend high-end craftsmanship with sheer extravagance.

The Rolex GMT Master II “Ice” Ref. 116769TBR is all things bling. It’s also the most expensive retail priced at USD 485,350. (Image credit: Rolex)

The Bao Dai Rolex – USD 5.1 million

The saga of the Bao Dai Rolex is one cherished by watch aficionados. In 1954, the final emperor of Vietnam, Bao Dai, walked into a local Rolex boutique during a Geneva convention and requested to be shown the rarest Rolex ever made. Presented before him was a reference 6062 in yellow gold, boasting a black dial adorned with diamond indices.

While two other 6062s with diamond dials exist, the unique five-diamond layout of the Bao Dai renders it utterly one-of-a-kind. Initially sold by the family in 2002 for $235,000, it became one of the most expensive Rolex watches sold at auction, when it fetched USD 5.1 million at auction in Geneva in 2017. Bao Dai, whose full name is Nguy?n Ph?c V?nh Th?y, was the 13th and final emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty. He assumed the title Bao Dai, meaning “Keeper of Greatness,” when he ascended the throne in 1925 at the tender age of 12.

Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 6263 ‘The Legend’ – USD 4.1 million

In the Rolex pantheon, the Cosmograph Daytona ref. 6263 ‘The Legend’ stands as a testament to its legendary status. Auctioned in 2017 for USD 4.1 million, it was, at the time, the second-highest price ever paid for a Rolex, trailing only the Bao Dai. Today, it still maintains its legendary aura. As one of merely three Paul Newman Daytonas housed in a yellow gold oyster case, this arresting wristwatch is among the rarest Rolexes on the market, believed to be one of the earliest examples of iconic 6263 references.

While this is not Paul Newman’s ‘Paul Newman’ Ref. 6239 that went for $17.52 million in 2017, it features a similar Panda dial and is in better condition. (Image credit: Rolex)

Cosmograph Platinum Zenith Daytona Ref. 16516 – USD 3.2 million

The next name on our list of Rolex extravagance also ranks among the most recognisable. This Platinum Zenith Daytona boasts a mesmerising dark blue lapis lazuli hardstone dial, a true rarity, if not entirely unique. Presented at auction for the first time in Hong Kong in 2020 by Sotheby’s, it fetched a staggering USD 3.2 million, effortlessly earning its place in the Rolex hall of fame.

This Platinum Zenith Daytona features a striking dark blue lapis lazuli hardstone dial. (Image credit: Sotheby’s)

Rolex Antimagnetique Ref 4113 – USD 2.5 million

The Rolex Antimagnetique ref 4113 is a piece of watchmaking history with a special place in collectors’ hearts. Crafted from stainless steel, this Rolex produced in 1942 remains the only split-seconds chronograph Rolex ever made, never offered for public sale. Just 12 of these 44mm marvels were created by Rolex and gifted to various renowned racing teams and their drivers, including Ettore Bugatti. With its split-seconds chronograph complication, the Antimagnetique ref 4113 allowed users to measure two separate events concurrently, a feature highly coveted by racing enthusiasts and professionals.

Its rarity is further accentuated by its stainless steel construction, in stark contrast to the precious metals typically used in luxury watches of that era. Though ownership histories of specific Antimagnetique ref 4113 watches can be elusive, one of these treasures was sold at a Phillips auction in Geneva in 2016 for nearly USD 2.5 million, setting a new record for the most expensive Rolex watches sold at auction at the time. The buyer’s identity remains a closely guarded secret.

The Rolex Antimagnetique ref 4113 (Image credit: Phillips)

Marlon Brando’s ‘Apocalypse Now’ Rolex GMT-Master – USD 1.952 million

Marlon Brando’s ‘Apocalypse Now’ Rolex GMT-Master is an iconic watch that combines both watchmaking and cinema. The specific GMT-Master worn by Brando in the 1979 film Apocalypse Now, where he portrayed Colonel Walter E. Kurtz, was produced in the late 1970s. Its value and allure are heightened by Brando’s modifications, including the removal of the bezel and replacement of the original bracelet with a leather strap.

In 2019, this cinematic treasure was auctioned by Phillips for an impressive USD 1.952 million, with the identity of the buyer remaining a well-guarded secret. This extraordinary price attests to the watch’s historical significance, its connection to a legendary actor, and its status as a highly coveted collector’s piece. Brando gifted the watch to his daughter in 1995, and a portion of the auction proceeds was earmarked for the betterment of underprivileged children.

Marlon Brando’s long lost Rolex GMT-Master, worn in ‘Apocalypse Now’ is now one of the most expensive Rolex watches sold at auction. (Image credit: Phillips)

Eric Clapton’s Rolex Daytona Oyster ‘Albino’ Ref 6263 – USD 1.4 million

The Rolex Daytona Oyster ‘Albino’ ref 6263, owned by the eminent English guitarist and singer Eric Clapton, is one of a select quartet. Distinguished by its silver dial with matching silvered totalizer chronograph sub-dials, this monochromatic masterpiece earned its ‘Albino’ moniker. It stands apart from other Daytona models, exuding an air of elegance and sophistication. Crafted in stainless steel and produced in 1971, Clapton acquired it in the late 90s.

In 2015, this exceptional Rolex was sold at a Phillips auction for a record-breaking USD 1.4 million, establishing new records for both the sale of a Rolex and specifically a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona. The identity of the fortunate buyer remains a closely guarded secret. This sale underscored the watch’s exceptional desirability and collector’s worth, with its unique design, association with the legendary Eric Clapton, and rarity as a vintage Rolex Daytona model solidifying its status as one of the most valuable and sought-after Rolex watches in history.

Musician Eric Clapton’s rare masterpiece, the Rolex Daytona Oyster ‘Albino’ ref 6263, is one of the most expensive watches auctioned. (Image credit: Rolex)

(Main image: Rolex; Featured image: Phillips Auctions)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which is the most expensive Rolex sold at auction?

Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona, which was sold for a staggering amount of USD 17.8 million at Phillips Auction House in New York in 2017.

Which is the most expensive watch in the world?

Graff Diamonds Hallucination. Worth a whopping USD 55 million and crafted concisely from 110 carats of rare and colourful diamonds, this tops the list of the most expensive watches in the world.

Which Rolex watch does Cristiano Ronaldo own?

He owns the Rolex GMT Master II ‘Ice’.

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