Remember the platinum Perpetual Daytona that sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in May? With a bullish estimate of $400,000 to $800,000 it smashed all pre-sale expectations when it sold for $3.27 million.

How come? Well, it was a super rare and unique reference 16516 with factory fitted Lapis Lazuli dial.

The watch was actually only the second Zenith Calibre-era Daytona to ever appear in platinum, with the first one also being sold by Sotheby’s in 2018.

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 in Hong Kong at their May 2020 sale
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

What made the second watch so important was the dial, which was made out of Lapis Lazuli, one of the most beautiful hard stones employed by Rolex for dials, having only previously been seen on Day-Dates, some rare Submariners and occasional dress watches.

This was the first time that a Lapis dial Daytona had been publicly offered on the market and it was presumed to be the last time such a watch might appear. But then, lightening does sometimes strike twice…

Rolex Daytona reference 16528 in yellow gold with a Lapis Lazuli dial, up for sale with Sotheby’s Autumn 2020 sale in Hong Kong
Rolex Daytona reference 16528 in yellow gold with a Lapis Lazuli dial, up for sale with Sotheby’s Autumn 2020 sale in Hong Kong

This Autumn, Sotheby’s is headlining its Hong Kong sale on October 9th with a Rolex Daytona reference 16528 in yellow gold with a Lapis Lazuli dial. Unlike the platinum example that featured white metal Arabic numerals and coronet, the offered 16528 has diamond-set markers and fixtures in yellow gold.

The Zenith calibre-era 16500 series has seen a meteoric rise in interest over the past few years, with steel examples and now yellow gold and rolesor models commanding serious prices. With all post-1988 Perpetual Daytonas, nothing drives collectors to fight for ownership of pieces more than a rare or unusual dial.

Sotheby’s has form offering unusual dials, as they did with the red dial in a yellow gold 16528 a year ago and the so-called Chairman dial needs no introduction or any hyping to achieve good money in sales.

Rolex Daytona reference 16528 in yellow gold with a Lapis Lazuli dial, up for sale with Sotheby’s Autumn 2020 sale in Hong Kong
Rolex Daytona reference 16528 in yellow gold with a Lapis Lazuli dial, up for sale with Sotheby’s Autumn 2020 sale in Hong Kong
Rolex Daytona reference 16528 in yellow gold with a Lapis Lazuli dial, up for sale with Sotheby’s Autumn 2020 sale in Hong Kong
Rolex Daytona reference 16528 in yellow gold with a Lapis Lazuli dial, up for sale with Sotheby’s Autumn 2020 sale in Hong Kong
Rolex Daytona reference 16528 in yellow gold with a Lapis Lazuli dial, up for sale with Sotheby’s Autumn 2020 sale in Hong Kong

A unique dial is always interesting though and with growing interest in hard stone Daytona dials this watch is sure to garner a lot of interest and big-hitting bids next month. Sam Hines, Global Head of Watches at Sotheby’s, is excited to offer this watch. “We have been privileged to offer some very fine and unusual fresh-to-market Daytonas over the past few years.

“This example is another beautiful example and another likely unique example of the dial in yellow gold. We have assembled another strong sale and I’m sure this and all the lots will perform well.”

I have to confess that I have been aware of this watch for a while now, as up until now it has resided in one of the most important collections of Perpetual Daytonas in the world. The collection belongs to a friend of mine and I have always greatly admired this particular example alongside other fascinating examples in his collection.

According to the catalogue: “The watch dates from 1996, which is also the same year which Rolex introduced the new reference 16519 Daytona’s fitted with the new sodalite and grossular hardstone dials. One can argue that the present watch may have been some sort of test dial prior to the sodalite and grossular dials being introduced.

“What is also very unique to this watch is that all hardstone dial Daytona in regular production are only ever available with a white metal case and fitted with a leather strap, making the present watch even more desirable.” Test dial or not, this is a very special dial and a very cool watch and the estimate of $400,000 to $800,000 will, I’m pretty sure, be smashed again!