Bruun Rasmussen, an auction house we’ve never really had the pleasure to get up close and personal with. This is perhaps in part due to the fact that they’re offices are situated overseas but also because they’ve never really pushed their watch auctions, until quite recently. Bruun Rasmussen are a well-established auction house, with more than 70 years of auctioning under their belts.
It all began at Bredgade in Copenhagen when Arne Bruun Rasmussen brought down the ivory hammer for the first time on 6 October 1948. Today Bruun Rasmussen is situated in both Copenhagen and Aarhus with four locations in total. In October 1999, the doors opened to what is today Bruun Rasmussen’s headquarters – Havnen – on the Copenhagen waterfront. Internationally, Bruun Rasmussen is represented Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, Sweden, Thailand and the United States.
In 2004, Bruun Rasmussen established a vintage watch department, which was more or less established by our friend and fellow nerd on all things watch related, Kristian Haagen, who was head of the department until 2017. Today, Casper Behrendtzen is head of wristwatches and runs the growing watch department together with three other watch specialists, which pretty much brings us up to date with Bruun Rasmussen’s watch department.
As mentioned above, we’ve never had the chance of getting up close with any of the timepieces that have actually gone through Brunn Rasmussen’s watch department but have been fully aware of their existence and of course some of the watches that they’ve auctioned in the past. But now, luckily for us, they’ve started touring different countries with a handful of some of their top watch lots in tow and just last week we visited their representatives when they visited London. Naturally, we thought we’d highlight a couple of the lots we managed to shoot.
ROLEX ‘PAUL NEWMAN’ DAYTONA 6241
Just under two weeks ago we attended the hotly anticipated Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo’s Daytona Ultimatum auction in Geneva, so you’d probably think that by now we’ve seen our fair share of Daytona’s. That may well be true but when a Paul Newman Daytona like the one pictured above pops up, you take note, regardless of all the original box and papers it comes with. Why? Because the story of why it is the way it is, is not only amusing but just goes to show how trends change and what was unpopular then is all the rage now.
Just last year we covered Paul Newman’s actual ‘Paul Newman’ Daytona so there’s no need to get into the minutiae of the association between man and watch but what is interesting to note is how the “exotic dial” or “Paul Newman” Daytona variations, like this ref. 6241, were hugely unpopular at the time, so much so that Rolex could not give them away. However, the moment Newman was captured on the cover of an Italian magazine sporting the timepiece, it soon became trendy.
The Rolex Daytona reference 6241 was manufactured from 1965 to approximately 1969. The reference is fitted with a calibrated black acrylic bezel but still retains the push down buttons and a 6 mm. winding crown, which are the typical features of a reference 6239. That said, the reference 6241 is considered to be more desirable than the 6239 and thus commands a premium over the 6239. The ref. 6241 offered here is equipped with a calibre 722 movement and a white dial with black sub-registers. Moreover, this present lots dial is in absolutely impeccable condition, with full, round lume plots. One other thing to note is the fact it comes with seldom seen 71N bracelet end links, which were only produced for a very short period.
But those in the know, will already know about these fine details but what I find perhaps more intriguing is the story of how this watch came to Bruun Rasmussen’s attention. I’m told sometime back in 1970s that the original owner and consignee bought himself this ‘Paul Newman’ Daytona. However, after wearing it for a short while he soon fell out of love with it and decided to put it in a safe deposit box, along with its box and papers and completely forgot about the watch and the deposit box itself.
Fast forward a few decades and said owner is contacted by the safety deposit company only to be told they are closing and that he needed to collect his belongings from the box, as did every other customer who had a box too. Of course, inside this consignees safe deposit box was a hardly worn Exotic Dial Rolex Daytona 6241, along with box and papers. At the time the owner thought perhaps it might be worth a few bob. So, he and his partner decided to get it valued at an external valuation day at a museum in the province of Denmark. The couple who consigned the watch had no idea, that it was so precious – they thought it might be valued around DKK 30,000-40,000, so they were rather shocked, when they were told that the valuation was closer to that of DKK 800,000-1,000,000! The kind of barn find collectors dream of.
ROLEX ‘DOUBLE RED’ SEA-DWELLER
I don’t quite know what it is but there is something about dive watches, which I just can’t seem to put my finger on, that I find ensue unassailable sophistication. This is perhaps partly due to the fact they were made with one particular function in mind. Let’s be honest, they were relentlessly designed to be utilitarian watches for both professional and recreational divers but for the most part, they’ve probably forgotten what sea water tastes like.
The Submariner was the tool of choice for divers, which was rated at 660 feet but Rolex being Rolex wanted to conquer the deep depths of the sea and were rather ambitious in wanting a watch capable of triple that – 2000 feet. A new model was given the reference 1665 and early deep saturation dive testing indicates that many of the first watches built failed due to the lack of a HEV (helium escape valve). Rolex then developed and patented the all-important helium escape valve, which was incorporated into the prototype Sea-Dweller. This valve released the helium from the watch case as the gas expanded during decompression after deep-water saturation dives, which prevented the watch from being damaged but still preserved its waterproofness.
This reference 1665 features a Mk.IV dial, evidence of the large and widespread coronet, and double red-writing – a trait seen in DRSD made circa 1977/79 such as this example. The dial has aged gracefully, exhibiting warm and all-matching patina on the hands and numerals. The case is offered in honest condition, showing signs of wear but also displaying it hasn’t been overly abused. While this lot isn’t something overly special – I just thought it was worth mentioning simply because of it condition.
For more lot information on Bruun Rasmussen’s upcoming auction that will take place on the weekend of the 31st of May, visit their official website to view the entire catalogue.