It is not the first time that we invite Kristian Haagen here, for the Collector’s Series. Of course… The guy has some good tastes, some rather good photography skills (yes, right, he’s good…) and furthermore, he has a pretty impressive collection of watches. He showed us a crazy Datograph Perpetual or “the cooler than ice-cream” Nautilus 5726. Both superb, modern watches. Today, we turn back to another type of grail, an antique one: the Rolex Daytona 6239, meaning an early edition – that was in fact only a Cosmograph and not a Daytona yet. Let’s see why, in addition to the simple reason of the iconic factor, Kristian went to own this watch.
How long ago did you buy the vintage Rolex Daytona 6239?
I actually only bought it this summer, so it is a rather new member of my collection.
Had you always been into vintage Rolex or did you start with the newer models?
I started with vintage Rolex. They were affordable, when I started to collect watches back in the early 1990s. And the thing about vintage Rolex; you always come back. No matter how many Patek and Lange your collection contains. The 1950s to 1970s Rolex watches just have that genuine “thing” about them.
What drew you to the Rolex Daytona 6239?
I received a phone call from a friend of the former owner who asked if I would be interested in purchasing the watch. He told me that the watch had been left in a drawer back in 1965 as one of the pushers had come off. And now had returned from the first service ever. That to me sounded like a barn find.
What is it about vintage watches that appeals to you?
They represent a time that will never come back. Life seemed better back then. Today little fires are torched everyday, wars and terrorism are daily headline news and even if today seems bearable, tomorrow probably will be nasty. So the past has a very romantic appeal and the watches produced back in the good times have my full attention.
Kristian what’s inside the Rolex Daytona 6239?
A manual wound Valjoux 72 calibre, slightly modified by Rolex. Fully serviced too. The watch came with a Euro 9000 service bill from Rolex Geneva! And it took no less than 33 weeks for it to return from that service too.
When do you find yourself strapping the Rolex Daytona 6239 on?
In the beginning I thought I would trade it into a 6263 as I see that more suitable as a daily wearer. However, the 6239 grew on me. And today I wear it quite often.
What would you attribute the crazy prices vintage Rolex models, particularly Daytona’s have commanded in recent history?
Well, especially the Paul Newman is just “that watch” the upcoming Rolex watch collector needs, right? It is like a uniform for Rolex collectors. But I was recently told that 90% of all Paul Newman Daytona’s that are send to Rolex for service have fake dials. Scary, eh? My 6239 is 100% legit, Danish provenance, one owner only and serviced by Rolex Geneva, so I am very comfortable with the purchase. Which, mind you, only cost me a fraction of the super expensive Paul Newman’s. But I would not feel comfortable buying into the Paul Newman’s unless I knew the original owner and Rolex Geneva had OK’d the watch.
What advice would you give others looking to invest in vintage Rolex?
Step very, very carefully. Beat up cases are fixed to look like new and tritium dials are “tea bagged” to look darker and hence sexier. So many nasty tricks are done in the world of vintage Rolex watches. It was a lot easier 30 years ago. You could tell if the watch was fake or Frankenstein’d. Today it is not at all so easy. My local Rolex service centre even told me that they recently saw a fake Rolex movement. They had to take an extra look to realise they looked at a fake movement.
What are your thoughts on the future for Rolex?
The brand is rock solid, but I am sure their seat is challenged. They are not the only great Swiss brand that makes great watches any longer. I think Omega is seriously moving in on Rolex and there is nothing wrong with that. Plenty of room for both the brands as long as they keep producing great watches with great looks and impressive precision.
Where does this Rolex Daytona 6239 sits in your collection, given you tend to own more modern pieces?
The more the watch brands increase their prices, the more I turn to my vintage pieces. I feel provoked by the price of a normal steel Swiss watch compared to what I can pick up on auctions right now. So vintage is the direction where I am looking. Again.
Do you have watch geeks coming up to you and asking to stroke it?
Oh yeah, that happens every time I wear the 6239 in larger groups. This is a 1964 non-Daytona Cosmograph in amazing condition and I have yet to see another. So I guess these very early ones are very thin on the ground.
What three words sum up your 6239?
Surprisingly sexy, mate.