Valuable Rolex Rarities Owned by Real-Life 'Action Men' at Bonhams Fine Watches Sale

Three valuable Rolex rarities – a circa 1980 'Kanjar' Cosmograph Daytona, a circa 1969 'Paul Newman' Cosmograph Daytona and a circa 1979 Comex Sea Dweller – inspired by the worlds of aviation , motorsport and deep-sea diving and all belonging to real-life 'action men' - are being offered in next week's Bonhams Fine Wristwatches Sale on 11 December.

c.1980 'Khanjar' Cosmograph Daytona (ref 6265/6263), estimate £80,000 – 120,000

The first lot is an ultra-rare circa 1980 'Khanjar' Cosmograph Daytona (ref 6265/6263) – only the second known example featuring the exclusive Omani 'Khanjar' dial – represents a chapter of military, aviation and watchmaking history, being given to the original owner, the late flying ace David Wood, by the current Sultan of Oman.

Aqueed Tayyar David Wood

Identified by a black printed 'Khanjar' - the Omani state symbol of the traditional ceremonial dagger - on its dial, the specially commissioned Rolex is one of only very few gifted by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, a known watch connoisseur, to a select few ambassadors, dignitaries and staff for loyal service.

This example was presented to Wood in the early 1980s, when he served as the most senior officer, with the rank of 'Aqueed Tayyar, in the Sultan of Oman's Air Force, a role he held for over 10 years.

His Omani posting, when he also learned to fly helicopters, followed a distinguished career in the Royal Air Force, where he rose to the rank of Group Captain. His RAF flying duties included Beaufighter operations against insurgents in Malaya, instructing on the Meteor, the RAF's first operational jet, and three years with the Queen's Flight.

Accompanied by its original box and papers, this unique 'Kanjar' is offered with an estimate of £80,000 – 120,000.

Link to catalogue entry:

c 1969 Rolex 'Paul Newman' Cosmograph ref 6239, estimate £70,000 – 120,000

Lining up second on this grid, with an estimate of £70,000 – 120,000, is a coveted 'Paul Newman' Cosmograph ref 6239, so-called after the legendary Hollywood actor – who wore it as a fictional racing driver in the film 'Winning' and later competing in real-life motor races, such as the Le Mans 24 Hours.

The watch is instantly recognisable for its 3D appearance, due to the sinking of the subsidiary dials and outer scale within the 3-colour dial's black opaque background, as well as for its art deco font.

This example is being offered by the family of the original owner – a keen racing gentleman driver who campaigned a 1930 8-litre Bentley at Goodwood and Silverstone motor circuits and on the London to Sydney no doubt making use of the watch's stopwatch feature. This Rolex is offered in excellent condition with 'one of the best original dials' seen by the Bonhams watch specialists.

Link to catalogue entry:

Rolex c 1979 'Comex' Sea Dweller, estimate £50,000 – 70,000

The third in the trio is the ultimate 'tool' watch: a very rare circa 1979 'Comex' Sea Dweller, offered by its original owner, a professional diver with the Compagnie Maritime d'Expertise.

Rolex was commissioned by Comex, an engineering and deep diving specialist company, to create watches that could withstand extreme conditions, including pressurised chambers, and survive decompression periods.

The result was the Sea Dweller, a superlative choronometer with capability to depths of 600 metres. Issued solely to Comex employees, although a public version has since been produced, this example is one of only 300 '1665' reference watches, engraved with the serial number and Comex's own issue number.

This Rolex was the 'work' tool of a former Comex employee – a professional diver, who trained with the army in the Royal Engineers and then joined the French company in 1971, working mainly on North Sea projects. The watch is accompanied by various diving logs relating to his career, including the Comex Professional Book of Divers 1974, and has an estimate of £50,000 – 70,000.

The vendor is also offering a circa 1979 Comex Submariner ref 16800, (estimate £30,000 – 50,000), which was presented to him to mark his tenth anniversary with the company.

Jonathan Darracott, Global Head of Bonhams Watches, said: "This is an extraordinary selection of the most sought-after 'tool' watches, were actually put to work by their owners, providing valuable support in vocations when there was not the technology available today."

Other highlights of the forthcoming New Bond Street sale include three fine examples from Patek Philippe, a traditionally strong performer in the Bonhams flagship fine watch auctions.

Patek Philippe Nautilus, ex-Robert Bradford, estimate £18,000 – 22,000

The first Patek Philippe is noteworthy for its provenance, having belonged to the late Hollywood film and television producer Robert Bradford, husband of the international bestselling novelist Barbara Taylor Bradford OBE. His film credits include the Oscar nominated epic 'El Cid' and the film version of his wife's novel 'A Woman of Substance'.

An 18K rose gold Nautilus, reference 5711, this example is offered as part of the 'Robert Bradford Collection and its estimate is £18,000 – 22,000.

Other examples include:

Patek Philippe Nautilus 'Jumbo' ref 3700/11, circa 1980
An early reference example of the pioneering nautical-inspired luxury sports watch, which was originally sold by Geneva-based Gübelin, one of the oldest and most prestigious watch retailers in Switzerland. Estimate: £80,000 – 120,000.

Patek Philippe ref 5270G-001, estimate £80,000 – 120,000
A rare and never worn example of Patek Philippe's sought-after perpetual chronograph wristwatch. This is a double factory sealed 18K white gold with manual wind and moon phase.


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