Rare Rolex Khanjar takes off at Fine Wristwatches Sale

An ultra-rare circa 1980 'Khanjar' Cosmograph Daytona (ref 6265/6263) – only the second known example featuring the exclusive Omani 'Khanjar' dial – was the top lot selling for a sky-high £375,063, to an overseas bidder, at the Bonhams Fine Wristwatches Sale held on Wednesday 11 December, the most valuable watch sold by the international auction house to date.

The sale was the finale to the most successful year for the Bonhams global watch team to date.

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 a very few to be gifted by the Sultan of Oman, a known watch connoisseur.

It was presented to the late David Wood for his service in the Omani Air Force, as its most senior officer with the rank of 'Aqueed Tayyar', following a distinguished career in the Royal Air Force, which included three years with the Queen's Flight.

The Khanjar was one of three desirable Rolex tool watches belonging to real-life 'action men' which performed strongly in the sale.

A circa 1969 'Paul Newman' Cosmograph Daytona (ref 6239), named after the legendary Hollywood actor and owned from new by a gentleman racer who campaigned a 1930 8-litre Bentley at Goodwood and Silverstone motor circuit, achieved £112,563 and was the second most valuable lot in the saleroom.

The third in the trio, arguably the ultimate 'tool' watch, was a very rare circa 1979 'Comex' Sea Dweller, which sold for £100,063. It was offered by its original owner, a professional diver with the Compagnie Maritime d'Expertise (Comex) which commissioned Rolex to create watches that could withstand extreme conditions, including pressurised chambers, and survive decompression periods.

The resulting Sea Dweller, a superlative chronometer with capability to depths of 600 metres, was issued solely to Comex employees. This example was one of only 300 '1665' reference watches, engraved with the serial number and Comex's own issue number.

Jonathan Darracott, Global Head of Bonhams Watches, said: "These were fantastic results for extraordinary watches of character – all with an interesting story, representing a chapter of military, aviation, motorsport and watchmaking history."

Rolex models dominated the sale's top ten, with another Daytona, an 18K gold and diamond set example with a mother of pearl dial selling for £81,313. Meanwhile, a second Comex watch – a circa 1979 Comex Submariner ref 16800, also offered by the aforementioned diver, realised £40,043.

Other watches flying high in the Bonhams Fine Wristwatches Sale included three examples from Patek Philippe, a traditionally strong performer in the Bonhams flagship fine watch auctions:

Patek Philippe Nautilus 'Jumbo' ref 3700/11, circa 1980, sold for £100,063.
An early example of the pioneering nautical-inspired luxury sports watch, originally sold by Geneva-based Gübelin, one of the oldest and most prestigious watch retailers in Switzerland.

Patek Philippe ref 5270G-001, sold for £95,063.
A rare and never worn double factory sealed 18K white gold example of Patek Philippe's sought-after perpetual chronograph wristwatch with manual wind and moon phase.

Meanwhile, perhaps inspired by this year's 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Space Mission and Successful Moon landing, a limited edition 18k gold circa 1969 Omega Speedmaster Professional, commemorating the event, was another top ten watch, selling for £62,563.

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