Join us each Friday as we showcase a different vintage watch of the week. The series kicks off with the prized Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ref. 6263, one of the most coveted vintage Daytona of them all. With connections to beloved actor and legendary Daytona owner Paul Newman and as one of the very last of the manual-wind Rolex 6263 is the watch that vintage dreams are made of. We’re fortunate enough to have a stainless steel example here in the office to examine in person. So, hop in, let’s go for a drive through Daytona history and find out what makes this ref. 6263 is so special.
Rolex Daytona Key Features:
Case Diameter: 40mm
Materials: Oystersteel, Yellow Rolesor, 18k Everose gold, 18k yellow gold; 18k white gold; 950 platinum
Features: Time + running seconds; 12-hour chronograph
Bezel: Fixed with tachymeter scale; gem-set
Water Resistance: 100 meters / 330 feet
Strap/Bracelet: Oyster bracelet; Oysterflex bracelet
Click here to learn more about what determines the price of a Rolex Daytona.
Table of Contents:
Brief Overview of the Rolex 6263
A very rare edition of the Daytona recently came through our doors, ref. 6263. The iconic chronograph initially came to market in 1963, with ref. 6263 following a few years later in the early 1970s. Several editions preceded it, including references 6239, 6240, 6241, 6262, and 6264, just to name a few. References 6265 and 6263 were the last two examples of the manually-wound Daytonas before the collection shifted to the automatic El Primero movement via the 5-digit series in the late 1980s. They are very sought-after on the secondary market. Both references are equipped with the Rolex Oyster case, which means they are waterproof. They also both rely on the Valjoux cal. 727 movement. What sets them apart is the bezel. Reference 6265 features a steel bezel, while the ref. 6263 boasts a striking black bezel. Rolex produced reference 6263 for over a decade before discontinuing it in 1987.
The example we have here is an early edition of the Daytona 6263 that came to market in 1971. Remarkably, it comes to us directly from the original owner, complete with a full kit containing the original box, papers, and hangtag. It was serviced in 1995 during which the crown, tube, crystal, pushers, gaskets, and washers were replaced. It was serviced again in 2021, when Rolex replaced many of the same parts as before in addition to the chronograph seconds hand and the hands on all three sub-dials. It was also recently polished and satin finished, which is reflected in the accompanying Atelier booklet from Rolex.
Driving the Daytona 6263 is the Valjoux cal. 727 hand-wound movement, which was serviced when the original owner sent it to Rolex in 2021. The cal. 727 replaced the cal. 722 used in earlier Daytona models, featuring a higher frequency of 21,600 bph – compared to cal. 722, which beats at a rate of 18,000 beats per hour. It boasts a 48-hour power reserve, running seconds, and a 12-hour chronograph.
As we already mentioned above, ref. 6263 differs from its counterpart 6265 because it features a black fixed acrylic bezel instead of steel. Our Daytona features the original bezel with some signs of wear that one would expect from a decades-old vintage Rolex. It also includes Rolex’s iconic Tachymeter scale calibrated to 200 units. When combined with the chronograph function, the bezel can measure various stats while driving, such as distance travelled and speed.
The Rolex 6263 Case
One of reference 6263’s most distinguishing features is its case, which includes distinctive screw-down pushers instead of the pump pushers used on its predecessors. They are more aggressive in design and instantly recognizable in vintage watch collecting circles. The use of an Oyster case and the upgraded pushers affords ref. 6263 better waterproofness up to 50 meters, a feature represented on the dial via the distinction “Oyster.” For comparison, most of reference 6263’s predecessors are equipped with a non-Oyster case and pump pushers.
The lugs transition nicely to the three-link Oyster bracelet, which features 13 links and 571 end links on our example. It exhibits some light stretch and does have some typical signs of light wear. The clasp features an “N4” stamp, signifying that it was produced in 1989. However, the original folded rivet C&I bracelet also came with the watch when we bought it from the original owner. It isn’t pictured with the case because the clasp is broken and one end link is missing.
For Rolex enthusiasts, the most important feature on many vintage watches is the dial, and the reference 6263 delivers. A handful of dial variations hit the market during its production run, some rarer than others, but each incredibly collectible nonetheless. Among the most valuable are the exotic Paul Newman dials with Art Deco registers, the Sigma dial with the Greek Sigma “σ” printed on both sides of the “T SWISS MADE T” distinction, and the Big Red dial charactierized by a red Daytona logo. Early versions of reference 6263 did not yet feature the name “Daytona” on the dial, just like the example we’ve got here. Instead, it features only the “Cosmograph” name sitting below the Rolex logo and Oyster distinction. The moniker “Daytona” didn’t appear on the dial until around 1975, with the text presented in bold red font.
Our Daytona features a reverse Panda dial with a trio of contrasting white chronograph registers. It also exhibits some patina throughout the dial, but, of course that only adds to the charm and character of the entire watch. As you can see, some signs of discoloration are more noticeable than others. Furthermore, the lume has faded to a rather lovely patina and the sub-dials show only light signs of aging. Overall, it’s a very nice example of the earlier production ref. 6263.
Rolex 6263 Price
Prices for the Cosmograph Daytona ref. 6263 vary rather dramatically depending on several factors, most notably the dial. For example, the Paul Newman Daytona ref. 6263 is one of the most sought-after vintage Rolexes on the market. As such, it isn’t rare to see them trading hands for well over $100k and beyond. The Big Red and Sigma dial Daytonas typically command around $100k. In contrast, the 1971 reference 6263 we acquired features a dial without the Daytona logo or rare markings and is worth just below $90k.
Either way, reference 6263 requires a very significant investment. You’ll no doubt strike envy into the heart of every watch collector with this rare Rolex strapped to your wrist.
There’s no denying that the Daytona ref. 6263 is a truly remarkable vintage Rolex, complete with a rich history and immense collectability. They’re becoming harder to find on the secondary level and will only continue to increase in value in the coming years – they seem to be a pretty sound investment. If you have the budget, there is no better Rolex to buy than the Daytona 6263 in our eyes.