These Are the Rare, Mint-Condition Vintage Watches of Our Wildest Dreams

A NASA-ordered Speedmaster, a 1940s Panerai, Paul Newman’s actual Rolex and more.

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Phillips

On October 26, Phillips will be auctioning off 50 of some of the rarest, most sought-after watches the collector community can imagine. That’s no hyperbole. Some of the watches going under the hammer include a Dalí-inspired Cartier, military-issue Panerais, stainless-steel Pateks, a NASA-ordered Speedmaster and a Rolex owned by a Hollywood legend. Of all the exceptional timepieces going on sale at the end of the month, these five are some of our absolute favorites.

Rolex Daytona Ref. 6239 ‘Paul Newman’

This model has the relatively rare “Paul Newman” dial layout — and, more importantly, this particular Daytona was actually owned and worn by Paul Newman himself. The watch remains in excellent original condition and features a personalized engraving from Newman’s wife on the back. This is an undoubtedly significant piece of timekeeping history.

Est: $1,000,000+

Omega Speedmaster Professional Ref. 145.022 ‘Alaska III’

This “Alaska III” is part of a very small number of Omega Speedmasters ordered by NASA in the late ’70s for its Space Shuttle program. Forced to comply with the U.S. government’s “Buy American Act,” Omega worked with an American case maker for these watches. In addition, it has a “radial dial,” referencing the radially oriented numerals in the subdials.

Est: $50k-$100k

Rolex Submariner Ref. 6200

This is one of the most sought-after vintage Submariners on the market. Why? For starters, it’s a rare “Big Crown” model, featuring an oversized 8mm winding crown, which supposedly enhanced its water resistance. Adding to that rarity is the Explorer-style dial with numerals at three, six and nine o’clock.

Est: $250k-$500k

Panerai Marina Militare Ref. 6152-1

Panerai has a very long history of making dive watches, but they were only just made available to civilians in the 1990s. That means this ’47 Panerai is the real deal, having been issued to the Italian Navy all those decades ago. Because these were strictly for military use back in the day, there are very few surviving examples.

Est: $80k-$160k

Zenith El Primero Ref. A386

A mint-condition example of the El Primero — one of the world’s very first automatic chronographs — from its first year of production. It comes on an original Gay Frères bracelet, with the original paperwork and box. Given its completeness, condition and historical significance, its estimate feels low.

Est: $12k-$24k

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