Auction Watch: Rolex “Zenith” Daytona in Platinum and Turquoise Sells for US$3.14m

Three down, five to go.

The headline lot at Sotheby’s recently concluded Hong Kong watch auction, the unique Rolex “Zenith” Daytona with a platinum case and a turquoise mineral-stone dial – and not a blue lacquer “Stella” as originally believed – just sold for HK$24.375 million, or about US$3.14 million, fees included.

The hefty result means the turquoise Daytona is the second-most expensive modern Rolex timepiece ever sold at auction, but just shy of the US$3.27 million record set by the unique platinum Daytona with a lapis lazuli dial that sold at Sotheby’s last year. With the sale of the turquoise Daytona, it means that three of the five unique platinum Daytonas have been sold at auction in as many years, all at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong.

One of five

The price achieved by the turquoise Daytona is unsurprisingly given its rarity: it is one of a five-piece run of the “Zenith” Daytona in platinum that were reputedly made at the behest of former Rolex chief executive Patrick Heiniger in 1999. All five watches share the same model reference 16516, and are powered by the Rolex cal. 4030 that’s based on the Zenith El Premiro movement.

Four of the five are known, with the other examples featuring Tahitian mother-or-pearl, lapis lazuli, and coral dials. The platinum Daytona that was just sold had a turquoise stone dial, rendering it highly unusual as the material has never been used before in the Daytona, and confirming the belief that these watches were a prototype run for the subsequent Daytona models with dials in exotic materials.

The estimate on the turquoise Daytona was a conservative HK$4.0-8.0 million, or about US$500,000-1.0 million, but the bidding swiftly passed the high estimate.

Eventually the battle for the watch came down to two phone bidders, each represented by Mildred Yuen and Yu Wenhao, both of Sotheby’s. Mr Yu’s client, an Asian collector, triumphed, clinching the watch for a hammer price of HK$21 million, which translates into a total of HK$24.375 million, about US$3.14 million, after including the buyer’s premium.

Notably, the battle between the bidders was a repeat of last year’s sale of the unique platinum Daytona with lapis lazuli dial. Mr Yu and Ms Yuen were also the final two bidders for the watch, which was won by Ms Yuen’s client.

The deputy chairman of Sotheby’s jewellery department in Asia, Mr Yu was formerly at Poly Auction, a subsidiary of defence conglomerate China Poly Group and now world’s third largest art auctioneer. Also based in Hong Kong, Ms Yuen is a client development manager at Sotheby’s Luxury Division.


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Ochs und Junior Introduces the Calendario Cent’anni

Concise and clever.

Founded by watchmaking genius Ludwig Oechslin, best known for the inventive timepieces he created for Ulysse Nardin like the Freak and Trilogy of Time, Ochs und Junior specialises in brilliantly simple complications that are minimalist, functional, and idiosyncratic in style. Dr Oechslin is best known for his calendar complications, particularly the Perpetual Ludwig he invented for Ulysse Nardin, which remains the centrepiece of his latest wristwatch, the Calendario Cent’anni.

Italian for “hundred-year calendar”, the Calendario Cent’Anni (CCA) will indicate the calendar till the end of this century, like most other perpetual calendar watches, but it is executed in Ochs und Junior’s inimitable style. And while the CCA retains the Ochs und Junior look, it will be offered in three fixed variations (each named after a Roman numeral), instead of being endlessly customisable as the first-generation Ochs und Junior perpetual calendar was.

From left: CCA III, II and I

Initial thoughts

Perpetual calendars were once an expensive complication, but the proliferation of mass-produced as well as unconventional, streamlined calendar mechanisms have brought about many affordable perpetual calendars, with the cheapest starting at around US$9,000.

But few perpetual calendar watches are as interesting as Dr Oechslin’s invention. While it does cost more than the most affordable perpetuals with a retail price of about US$16,600, the CCA is truly innovative. Dr Oechlin’s perpetual calendar mechanism comprises only nine parts, with no buttons required for setting the calendar.

Admittedly, the CCA is clearly based on the first Ochs und Junior perpetual calendar, but the original an innovation in itself, and takes nothing away from the cleverness of the Cent’Anni.

Another highlight of the CCA is its design, quintessentially Ochs und Junior in style, but ever so slightly tweaked, making it distinct from the brand’s earlier watches. And it is of course vastly different from most other brands and instantly recognisable as an Ochs und Junior.

The ingenuity of both movement and display make the CCA an attractive proposition. Even though it costs more than the price originally mooted when the prototypes were shown to existing owners of Ochs und Junior watches three years ago, it remains a value buy in terms of perpetual calendars.

The only down is arguably the lack of customisation. That would not be a problem with any other watch, but because Ochs und Junior has historically offered a bewildering variety of options for customers to choose from – practically every visible component of the watch could be customised in finish and material – the trio of fixed options for the CCA feels limiting.

For existing clients used to the diversity of before, the first-generation perpetual probably makes more sense given the ability to personalise the design. But for a new client, the CCA is a perpetual calendar that can be purchased fuss free (and for slightly less than the original perpetual calendar model).


Like all Ochs und Junior watches, the CCA has a quirky but logical sensibility in its dial design. Hours and minutes are indicated by central hands, and the seconds on a small disc at six o’clock.

The date is indicated by a dot visible within the 31 square apertures arrange in a spiral around the dial.

At the centre of the dial, located on the same axis as the hands, is a disc that indicates the month of the year with a circle against the 12 hashmarks. And within the month disc is a smaller leap year disc – a leap year occurs when the hashmark on the leap year disc lines up with the circle on the month disc.

All of that is driven by a perpetual calendar mechanism made up of just nine parts that are ingeniously mounted on the back of the dial, which has been milled out to function as a plate for the calendar:

  1. Brass dial with functional back
  2. Date disc
  3. Annual star wheel
  4. Main plate
  5. Gear wheel
  6. Month wheel
  7. Gear “finger”
  8. Transmission wheel for month end
  9. Wheel for month end

All three versions of the CCA share the same function and dial layout, but the CCA III is notable for having Arabic-numeral hour and minute markers, making it one of the handful of Ochs und Junior watches with numerals on its dial. The look brings to mind the legible dials of aviator’s watches, setting the CCA III apart from the typically geometric style of the typical Ochs und Junior watch.

As is typical of Ochs und Junior, the CCA is as wearable as it is simple: the case is 40 mm in diameter and made of lightweight titanium. Available either in natural-finish titanium or with a black ceramic coating, the case has short, stubby lugs, and a useful water-resistance rating of 100 m.

Made of two parts – middle and back – the case is milled and then left as is, which means milling marks are visible on its surfaces, something that’s become an Ochs und Junior trademark.

The movement is the UN320, the workhorse in-house automatic calibre made by Ulysse Nardin. The movement has its hairspring, pallet lever, and escape wheel in silicon, all of which would not traditionally be found in watches made by a niche brand like Ochs un Junior, but possible here because Ulysse Nardin owns a minority stake in Ochs und Junior.

Key Facts and Price

Ochs und Junior Calendario Cent’anni

Diameter: 40 mm
Thickness: 11 mm
Material: Titanium with optional black coating
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: Ulysse Nardin UN320 with Ochs und Junior calendar module
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and perpetual calendar with leap year display
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 50 hours

Strap: Synthetic fabric

Availability: Now, direct from Ochs und Junior with 50% deposit upon order and delivery in summer 2021
Price: CHF15,230 excluding taxes

For more, visit

Correction April 26, 2021: The CCA is regular production, and not a limited edition as stated in an earlier version of the article.

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