Watches | November 3, 2021 9:49 am

Rainbow Rolexes Are Already Rare, But This May Be a One-of-One

A curious, “possibly unique” Day-Date with the iconic gemstone bezel is headed to auction

A close-up photo of a Rainbow Rolex Day-Date Ref. 18058 in yellow gold, a rare timepiece that is headed to auction at the upcoming Phillips Geneva sale
If anyone else has one of these lying around, please speak up now.
Phillips

What do John Mayer eating hot wings, Adam Levine performing at the Super Bowl and Patrick Mahomes on travel day have in common? All these men, in various states of propriety, chose to wear Rainbow Rolexes. Specifically, Rainbow Daytonas, the watch style most associated with Rolex’s equally immaculate and ostentatious barrage of inlaid gemstones around the bezel and on the dial. 

You don’t need to be a watch fiend to know about the existence of Rainbow Rolexes, but even those who look to Mayer more for his taste in timepieces than music may be surprised to learn about the other models outside the popularized Daytona. Hodinkee has the story on one such piece, the Rainbow Day-Date ref. 18058, which is dated to 1987 and is possibly a unique, one-of-one watch. 

Lest you think the ambiguity there is the result of a lack of journalistic effort, it’s actually Phillips who uses the phrase “possibly unique.” This Rainbow Rolex Day-Date is part of the auction house’s Geneva Watch Auction: XIV, coming up on Nov. 5 and 7, and as noted in the listing, the heritage of the model isn’t completely clear.

“The present watch, previously unknown to the auction market, is most probably one of the most important Day-Date discoveries in recent years,” Phillips writes. “It is one of the very first ‘Rainbow’ models the manufacture ever made, probably even before Rolex had officially coined the model name.” 

“Most interestingly, the watch has a reference number completely different from other Rolex Day-Date models,” the auction house adds. “Cased in yellow gold, it carries the reference number 18058. It is notable that the only other three vintage Day-Date models with a rainbow bezel are in white gold and carry the reference number 18059.”

While all this uncertainty could be cause for concern if the watch was being sold on a resale site, as there are certainly Rolexes out there that have been converted into homemade “Rainbow” styles, Phillips notes that this watch went to Rolex as recently as 2019 for servicing, which inspires confidence in its provenance. 

So what’s the appetite for something like this? As Paul Altieri, the man behind Bob’s Watches, discusses in a blog about Rainbow Rolex Daytonas, those go for $250,000 at “the absolute bare minimum.” This however is an older watch, a smaller watch (36mm) and in the Day-Date style. Phillips has cast a wide estimate net, saying it should go for anywhere between $163,000 and $327,000. 

Considering this isn’t even in the top 20 highest-price estimates for the 250 lots heading to the auction block this weekend, the bidding will likely go up, and maybe over, the rainbow.

For more information on the piece, head to Instagram where it was recently discussed by Phillips watch specialist Tiffany To.