Sotheby’s are announcing their July 2020 Hong Kong sale with a watch that will have Rolex fans hot under the collar. The headline lot in the sale is a unique platinum Daytona, fitted with a unique lapis lazuli dial.

Whenever something hyper-rare appears from Rolex — the brand that never officially makes unique and special order pieces — it causes a huge amount of interest. When it’s a Daytona, it’s a true red-letter day!

The watch is the sister watch of the platinum Daytona that Sotheby’s sold two years ago and shares the reference 16516. There are two immediately very important aspects to note here. The first is that until the aforementioned 16516 appeared at Sotheby’s, a couple of years ago, the reference was unheard of outside of a small coterie of collectors and dealers.

Unique platinum Perpetual Daytona ref 16516 with a mother-of-pearl dial; ;ast seen with Sotheby's in 2018 at their October sale in Hong Kong
Unique platinum Perpetual Daytona ref 16516 with a mother-of-pearl dial; ;ast seen with Sotheby's in 2018 at their October sale in Hong Kong

I’ve have been aware of a number of unique and super rare special order Daytonas over the years, but when one of these pieces appears in the open market, or is published in a book, it is always big news. The second interesting feature is the dial, which is made out of lapis lazuli. Stone dial Perpetual Daytonas have been slowly but surely climbing in both interest and value in recent years – this one, however, is the king!

Sam Hines, International Head of Watches at Sotheby’s, commented: “We are thrilled to offer this super cool, unique and unknown Zenith Daytona with hardstone lapis dial in our July 2020 Hong Kong sale this season. The watch is in great condition and is arguably one the most important automatic Daytona ever offered.”

Unique platinum Perpetual Daytona ref. 16516 with lapis lazuli dial at Sotheby’s
Unique platinum Perpetual Daytona ref. 16516 with lapis lazuli dial at Sotheby’s

The watch has been consigned by a private collector and is totally fresh to the market. Manufactured by Rolex in 1999, this is the only known factory-delivered Daytona with a lapis lazuli hardstone dial. The watch has an ‘A’ serial number range, which ties in nicely with the other platinum Daytona sold by Sotheby’s in 2018 which achieved USD 871,000.

Like the other 16516 that is known, this watch is engraved on the caseback and dated “XII 1998”. It is understood that these watches were special-commission pieces that were in all likelihood, gifts from the then Rolex CEO Patrick Heiniger, who himself wore a platinum Daytona in the 1990s.

Remember that the series-produced Platinum Daytona reference 116506 wasn’t introduced until 2013 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Daytona. And the coolest element of this watch? It’s totally stealth and under the radar. To most people it looks like a white gold 16519, but to the beholder it is something much more important!

Unique platinum Perpetual Daytona ref. 16516 with lapis lazuli dial at Sotheby’s