The earliest Daytona, the Mark 1 “Double Swiss Underline,” does not yet bear the iconic name of the collection it would later inspire. The watch was then known as the “Rolex LeMans,” and Rolex, making a push for the American market in the early 1960s, ultimately decided to drop it in 1964 in favor of the U.S. automobile track. The Mark 1 is called the “Double Swiss Underline” because the word “Swiss” appears twice on the dial – once at 6 o’clock and another, discernible only before the watch is cased, on the edge of the dial – while a small silver underline appears below the Rolex Cosmograph signature.
Christie’s is offering two examples of the Mark 1, with contrasting dials. The first, Lot 141, has what is known as a panda dial (a silvered matte dial with three black subsidiary dials) while Lot 142 offers the reverse look. Both watches feature the long and thin hour and minute hands that define early Double Swiss Underline examples. However, both show signs of polishing (Lot 142 more than Lot 141), perhaps explaining why Christie’s is estimating only between $60,000 and $90,000 for each. Lot 141 also appears to have a replacement central chronograph hand. A similar example, with the original arrow hand, was sold at Christie’s Geneva in November 2013 at the Rolex Daytona: Lesson One sale for $296,250.