Rolex watches achieve top prices in Bonhams £1.2 million sale

Fine Watches and Wristwatches
13 Jun 2012
London, New Bond Street

Highlights included rare spy camera wristwatch and a Cartier 'crash' watch

A number of Rolex wristwatches have achieved top prices in the Fine Watches and Wristwatches sale that took place on the 13th June at Bonhams, New Bond Street.

The top lot of the sale, a rare manual wind chronograph Rolex wristwatch circa 1971 received much international interest and after enthusiastic bidding sold for £90,050, exceeding the presale estimate of £40,000 – 50,000. First appearing in the 1960s the 'exotic' dial was renamed the 'Paul Newman' by Italian collectors after the American actor wore the watch in promotional posters for the film 'Winning'.

A second Rolex 'Paul Newman' Oyster chronograph circa 1971 that was also fresh to the auction market sold for £79,250. Realising over double its presale estimate of £8,000 – 12,000, an 18ct white gold diamond set Rolex Daytona wristwatch sold for £30,000.

An unusual Cartier 'Crash' wristwatch realised £20,000, exceeding the presale estimate of £2,000 -3,000. Released by Cartier of London in the 1960s, the unusual shape was inspired by a car crash involving a Vice President from the London office. His Cartier Bagoire Alongee melted in the wreckage, resulting in a surrealist watch design in the manner of Salvador Dali.

Other top lots included a Piaget Polo Automatique, white gold diamond set bracelet watch that sold for £79,250 and an 18 carat rose gold, diamond set Piaget Altiplano 'Double Jeu' that sold for £19,375.

Unusual highlights included a rare Steineck ABC, stainless steel camera watch that sold for £875. The Steineck camera watch was one of the most popular spy camera wristwatches during the 1940s and 1950s. The film was loaded onto the back of the watch and secured by a rotating disc and the release trigger was designed to be subtly pressed at '9'.


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

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