Rolex Oyster Split: The Legendary Gold Daytona 6263 & 6265

This article focuses on the rare dials of the "Oyster" Cosmograph, references 6263 and 6265, in their gold versions.

Made in 14 and 18 karat gold, it is estimated that over a period of 17 years, about 1500 units of Daytona 6263 and 6265 were produced in gold, which amounts to an annual production of about 100 pieces. It is likely, although we cannot prove it, that the production of gold watches was not linear over the period, and that productions were higher in the later years. In any case, there are many more gold references in the 1980-87 period than in the 1970-79 period in the auctions of the most prestigious houses.

Between 1970 and early 1988, Rolex produced two references of gold chronographs, the 6263 and the 6265, i.e., the "Oyster" Cosmographs with screw-down pushers, which have now become legendary and highly sought after... More than 36 years later, these references are part of the pantheon of collectible watches, the most famous probably being those equipped with the various versions of Paul Newman dials.

Among the collection of 6265 and 6263, there are however rarer versions that are much more difficult to access than the Paul Newman versions. Among these models, and this is the subject of this article, is the Oyster Split version, produced around 1973 for a period of about two years.

The first "Oyster"

Just like the steel series, the first gold Cosmograph versions with screw-down pushers have the Rolex Oyster Cosmograph (ROC) inscriptions. These dials, called "Three Liners", are the very first of the production and are among the very rare pieces of the 6263 / 6265 series. These dials were produced in black background and gold (champagne) background versions.

Illustration of a Daytona 6263 champagne dial ©Phillips

Starting in 1971, Rolex decided to submit its chronographs to the COSC (Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute) and to promote it on its dials from 1973. This gave birth to a transitional version, just as rare as the Three Liners version: the Oyster Split.

The "Oyster Split" version, a rare transition

If there's one factor that fascinates Rolex enthusiasts, it's the positioning of text lines on a dial. What may seem quite trivial to a novice is actually very important to the discerning collector. We have already discussed single line breaks and "Floating" Daytonas on Zenith Daytonas...

Here is another configuration, with a space after the second line of text that ends with OYSTER. Known as "Oyster Split", this type of dial found on some gold Cosmograph Daytonas also features a smaller "Oyster" designation. A whole poem, and an extremely limited edition!

Illustration of a Cosmograph 6265/8 with its black dial
Close-up on the "split" between Oyster and Superlative Chronometer

Above, it's clear how the Daytona "Oyster Split" refers to the space between the first two and last two lines of text on the watch dial. Very few pieces with this transitional dial (present indifferently on the 6263 and 6265) are known and have appeared at auction.

A 6263 version was sold in 2018 during Phillips' "Daytona Ultimatum" sale for an amount of 287,500 Swiss francs. It's quite easy to argue that the price indicators are not very representative, because the pieces are particularly difficult to source, and the price levels reached are a function of the momentum (and the auction house!).

A simple way to look at it is to say that gold Daytona chronographs are particularly rare, and those equipped with a "transitional" dial are even more so, just like certain exotic dials.

Characteristics of an Oyster Split from 1973 to 1975

Versions14k / 18k
DialsBlack counters champagne
Champagne counters black
Diameter36.3 mm
MovementRolex/Valjoux 727
WinderSeries 701
BraceletsOyster riveted / Jubilee / Milanese

In conclusion, it always comes back to the same principles: rarity generates value, especially when integrity is preserved. With an Oyster Split, whether on a 6263 or a 6265, we are undoubtedly dealing with a rare bird that can only attract the most discerning collectors. However, as always, be sure to ensure the quality of the product, which will be decisive for determining and evolving its value.

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