Rare and Limited Run Watches… Caveat Emptor

Buying a luxury watch can often be a little nerve racking if only because of the increasing number of high quality ‘replicas’ out there.  Fortunately, these are often relatively easy for the experienced eye to spot and so – touch wood – they don’t slip through the net to the customer.

When the stakes are raised however, things become more tricky..

Over the years, various watchmakers have made short run and limited edition watches which are very similar to their more normal models apart from in one or two key areas.  When these watches become interesting to collectors and enthusiasts, their prices invariably rise relative to their standard production brothers and this leaves the market wide open for forgeries.

The classic example of this is the Rolex ‘Paul Newman’ Daytona from the late 1960’s and early 1970’s and for our illustration, I’m going to borrow a photo from the esteemed journalists over at Hodinkee:

So, here are two ostensibly similar black dialled Rolex 6239 Daytonas from around 1967 – the one on the left is worth around £35,000 and the one on the right is around £75,000.  Why? Because the right hand one has a ‘Paul Newman’ dial.  Same case, same movement, same hands, same bracelet, different dial.

So what you ask, is to stop an unscrupulous forger just repainting the dial of a standard 6239 to look like a Paul Newman and pocketing the extra £40,000?

Exactly. And £40,000 will buy you a hell of a good re-dial.  Virtually impossible to spot in fact.

That’s why we unfortunately would never entertain buying, selling or sourcing a Paul Newman Daytona, because it’s such a minefield.

We experienced something similar just this week with a highly desirable 1974 Rolex 1680 ‘Red’ Submariner.

We were offered a Red Sub at a reasonable price and it was attractive because it came with boxes, accessories and the original papers – after a closer inspection it was clear that this watch was one of the first of the white writing 1680’s – the ‘Submariner’ writing had been overpainted in red to make it look like something it wasn’t…

It’s a good job we were awake and on the ball because obviously, we walked away.

We are here to catch these things before they get to you but if you’re looking for yourself, just be careful out there.

Caveat emptor indeed….

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