Sale Highlight: A Very Special 1972 Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 6265
Every now and then we get a message from someone who lets us know that they’re selling a watch. But it’s certainly not every day that the watch going up for sale is an original-owner Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 6265 from 1972, especially restored by Rolex. Yeah, you heard that right. This is a true heavy-hitter. Seeing this one in the metal was a highlight of my time at Fratello so far. Earlier this week, Kenny Vaes from Relleb paid us a visit here at Fratello HQ, and showed us the watch. We sat and had a chat about the watch’s story, how he came to own it, the work Rolex did on it, and when and where it will be put up for sale. If you’re in the market for a very special watch, or just want to enjoy some vintage Rolex goodness, you’ve come to the right place.
Despite the fact that the Speedmaster is the Fratello chronograph of choice, we certainly have a lot of love for the classic Daytona. In fact, a couple of the guys even own one, and it’s a grail for others. Personally, I have no love for the modern ceramic-bezel Daytonas, but seeing this 1972 Daytona 6265 has made me not only a big fan of the Rolex chronograph, but it has also taught me that the 37mm form factor makes for Daytona perfection. Even on the wrist next to Bert’s modern 40mm Daytona, you would never guess that there’s a full 3mm difference in case size. And on the wrist, well, there’s not much out there that compares.
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 6265 — The meet-cute
So let’s start at the beginning. My first question for Kenny was about how he came across the watch. The answer was rather simple and the kind of story we all dream of for ourselves. As a watch enthusiast, Kenny spent a lot of time in Amsterdam’s watch shops. One day in October 2019, he happened to be in one specializing in high-end vintage watches. Here is where he observed a conversation taking place at the counter. A man had placed his watch on the glass surface, and the watch dealer behind the counter was carefully observing it. It was clear that the man was looking to sell this watch. The dealer behind the counter kept the watch, and the gentleman left the shop. Having caught a glimpse of the watch in question, and having recognized its unmistakable looks from a few meters away, Kenny ran after him.
He caught up with the man and asked him about the watch. After a brief chat, the two men came to an agreement. Kenny would out-bid whatever the estimate given to the man by the shop was by a fair margin, and then he would call the watch his own. Already in that brief encounter, Kenny found that they had a lot in common, with both of them having a connection to the Zeeland area of The Netherlands and even the town of Goes. This is where the grandmother of the owner had received it as a gift from her loving husband (a sailor) in the early ’70s. He chose the Daytona so she could time horse races (her hobby and passion). She was always proud of the watch and wore it for many years.
From one owner to the next
The man’s watch-selling journey had started at a pawn shop, whose €100 offer he thankfully declined. He later received an offer from a colleague for €3,000, which made him look deeper into the watch’s value, and eventually, he made the trip up to Amsterdam to get a professional opinion. This is where he and Kenny crossed paths. The human connection and an offer topping that of the watch store meant that Kenny would become the new owner of the watch. But the sentimental value would prove hard for the man to overcome. After giving it some thought, going back and forth, and receiving his mother’s blessing, the man decided to make the sale.
Keep in mind that at this point, Kenny hadn’t yet seen the watch in person. A visit to his hometown brought him close to the area where the seller lived, so he decided to drop by and finalize the purchase. This is where Kenny first saw the watch, in its honest and well-worn condition. This was a watch from a time before keeping your valuable timepiece in a safe was as commonplace as it is today. After the watch had changed hands, Kenny took the Daytona 6265 to a large Dutch boutique, where he wanted to get it checked and eventually restored. But never fear — this is no horror story, as the pictures have revealed to you already.
A tool watch put to work
I believe it’s worth mentioning the watch’s past life before talking about its more recent endeavors. This 1972 reverse panda Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 6265 was certainly put through its paces by the original owner. The seller’s grandmother purchased it for herself in the early 1970s. A chronograph was a tool for her, and as an avid horse rider, she certainly found a use for it. Below, you can see a copy of the Rolex Atelier de Restauration’s assessment of the watch upon receipt, including two pictures of the watch in its original condition. Having seen pictures already of the watch in its current state, it’s hard to believe how it once looked.
Keep in mind that the original bracelet was not sent into Rolex. Kenny was advised not to do this, as often the brand’s restoration service (which has a reputation for being rather mysterious in its ways) will simply keep the old bracelet and replace it with a newer one. But the mission here was to respectfully restore, removing the blemishes and imperfections gathered in the watch’s past life and employment as a true tool. Much like how barn-find classic cars from the period are restored — maintaining originality, yet restoring function and aesthetics to give them a new life. As a firm believer in actually wearing your watches, Kenny wanted to be able to wear this watch confidently, so a full restoration was the way to go.
The Rolex restoration
Kenny shipped the 6265 Daytona to Rolex in February of 2020. This is when he received the initial report above. The restoration process went on to take just over the 32 weeks estimated by Rolex in the report. Above, you can also see the list of necessary steps in restoration, as well as an optional, recommended replacement of the lume on the dial and the hour and minute hands. In the end, Kenny opted against this step, as he found it more important to maintain the watch’s original state as much as possible. You can also see that Rolex provided a new leather strap and buckle, as well as a beautiful new wooden exhibition box for the watch and a book detailing the restoration process.
The result of the restoration was a total rebirth of the watch by the hand of those best-qualified to undertake this kind of project. Though Rolex can often be mysterious in its ways, doing what it deems necessary in restoring a watch, here, the brand listened and was incredibly respectful of this extremely special piece. Keep in mind that if you refuse the service, the brand will keep a deposit and return the watch with “XXX” stamped into the case back. However, there are no such horror stories here. The incredible watchmakers in the Geneva atelier made this Daytona Cosmograph 6265 one of the best examples out there. It is certainly the best on the market today. That’s right — Kenny decided to part ways with it, after just having gotten it back, so the watch will be available to bid on today.
The Watch: 1972 Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 6265
Allow me to tell you a little bit more about the watch itself. This 1972 Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 6265 is from a very interesting period in Daytona history. This was the beginning of the end of the hand-winding Daytona featuring the Valjoux 727 movement. This last run went on until 1988 when the 6265 was replaced by the 40mm El Primero Daytona. This particular example, dated to 1972, is, therefore, one of the early models from this last run. Another interesting detail is the lack of Daytona text on the dial. This shows that no label is needed. The watch, with its signature looks, could hardly be mistaken for anything else.
So, not only is it an important watch from a key period in the Rolex Daytona timeline but it was also restored by the Rolex Atelier de Restauration. This in itself is quite rare. The costs are normally prohibitive for most, the restoration here having cost almost €15,000. But the finest results and attention to detail can be expected. Rolex still has access to NOS parts, and can therefore restore its watches as faithfully to the original as possible. I think you’ll agree with me that the results achieved here are simply stunning.
There you have it, ladies and gents. A beautifully restored, stunning watch, which is up for sale now on the Relleb website. In case you’re wondering what happened to the original bracelet — it was professionally restored by a former Rolex employee. This was done to the exact standards that the Crown would have done. So not only do you get the watch on its original bracelet, but you also get a Rolex leather strap. Plus, the watch not only comes with the Rolex restoration atelier box. It also comes with the original green box. This is one that’s sure to turn heads of collectors and enthusiasts alike. So if you’re interested, make sure to take a look at the Relleb site here.
What do you think of this watch? Is this reverse panda beauty a potential grail? Or does the lack of “Daytona” text on the dial bore rather than charm you? Having seen the watch in person, I must say that I finally understand the appeal of vintage Rolex. Especially when we’re talking about such a stunning example, beautifully restored by the brand itself. For now, I’ll have to keep dreaming.
Follow me on Instagram @ncgwatches