We’re a little obsessed with any Paul Newman era Daytona, which is one reason we love the Rolex Daytona JPS. That’s the extremely rare ‘John Player Special’ Daytona (better known as the JPS).
What is the Elusive Rolex Daytona JPS?
Long story short, it’s a vintage 14k gold Paul Newman Daytona that was produced between 1969 and 1972. Three years later in 1975, Rolex collectors coined it the John Player Special Daytona. The name has stuck since.
Related: The Rolex Rainbow Daytona
John Player & Sons was a tobacco and cigarette manufacturer based in Nottingham, England. Their products were sold in black and gold boxes.
In 1972, the company began sponsoring the Lotus Formula One motorsports team, and the Lotus was fitted with the JPS livery. The team went on to win the Constructor’s Championship 3 times in the 1970’s and the Driver’s Championship in 1972.
The Lotus race car with the iconic cigarette company branding was unmistakable. A simple, solid black body was accented with gold lettering and a gold JPS logo. It was classy and elegant in a way, at least for a race car. It was the Rolex of race cars, obviously.
Hence the Rolex Daytona JPS. And man, are they rare!
Why So Rare?
Only 3,000 6241 Daytona models were ever produced during the three year time span. Some were steel, a few 18k gold and even fewer 14k gold. Rolex experts credit this to several different factors. Gold watches weren’t popular at the time, therefore the market for a gold Daytona was super slim.
Secondly, this particular model was produced during a transitional period for the Daytona. This era of Daytonas didn’t have the Oyster trademark, which limited their waterproofness. In 1965, Rolex fitted screw down elements to the pushers on the Daytona, to prevent them from being activated when under water. After which ‘Oyster’ took its place of honor on the dial of these new Daytonas.
Few John Player Special 6241 models have come to market over the last couple of decades. Today it’s estimated that there are less than 400 of these 6241 references left. Of those, only a small fraction have the coveted black and gold dial.
In 2017, two JPS models appeared at the annual Geneva watch auctions. One was sold by Christie’s for SFr 559,000, while the other was purchased by Phillips for a high-estimate of SFr 730,000. It fetched a higher price due the inclusion of a Tiffany & Co signature.
Apparently there is one JPS model for sale at the recently opened Phillips “Perpetual” boutique in London’s Berkeley Square. Perpetual is a permanent showroom for clients that want to buy a luxury watch in-between the twice-yearly watch auctions. Of course you’d need to drop about a million for the one JPS in stock.
Very few JPS models are found in their original state. Many have been fitted with leather straps over the years, but still fetch a pretty penny. Let’s look at the original features.
This is the most defining aspect of the Rolex Daytona JPS. The black dial features three contrasting gold sub dials. These sub dials showcase art deco numerals and sub dial crosshairs. Per usual when it comes to the Paul Newman Daytonas, the top left dial is marked with 15, 30, 45, 60 rather than 20, 40, 60.
It’s no wonder this model with contrasting black and gold dials was reminiscent of the iconic JPS Lotus racer.
The JPS is outfitted with a 14k solid gold case, which was standard for the American market at the time. There were also 18k Daytonas produced, but only for the European market.
Original 14k gold bracelets on the JPS are hard to come by. The one JPS model showcased at the Phillips boutique is actually in its original state. Most others have been fitted with leather straps. We like the look of either.
A Quick History of the Rolex Daytona
The Daytona International Speedway opened in 1959, and a few years later Rolex was awarded official timekeeper status. Rolex sponsored the first ever 24 Hour Daytona in 1962 and the Cosmograph Daytona was shortly conceived to celebrate the partnership.
The Daytona was designed specially for professional racers. The tachymeter scale on the bezel is used to measure speed and distance.
But it was Paul Newman that really catapulted the Daytona as a choice watch. The actor, philanthropist, and IndyCar driver was documented throughout his massively successful career wearing at least six different models.
A Paul Newman Daytona shattered records when it was auctioned back in 2017.
Are you interested in purchasing your own Rolex Daytona (or any model), give us a call or fill out our contact form. Check out our Facebook page for box openings and watch reviews by our in-house watch expert Sergio Nuncio.
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