That a Rolex sports watch with a celebrity connection is a big draw at a watch auction is a no-brainer today. From Paul Newman’s Daytona that fetched a whopping $17 million to the dubious case of a Submariner associated with Steve McQueen, provenance can dramatically change the value of a watch set for the auction block. 

The 18K yellow gold Daytona was made circa 1989

This May at the auction season, a yellow gold Rolex Daytona Ref 16528 that was gifted by Formula One legend Ayrton Senna to his mentor Angelo Parilla, is set to hog the headlines. The watch has a pre-sale estimate of CHF100,000-200,000 (About $101,000-201,000). 

The early "floating dial" Daytona is a historically significant timepiece for both watch collectors and petrolheads alike. The recipient of Senna’s gift - Parilla - is a legend in Karting and the founder of DAP karts. The Italian is credited with discovering Senna’s prodigious talent as an 18-year-old and bringing him to race in Italy. It blossomed into a relationship that endured far beyond the racing track. 

ALSO READ: The Legend of the Rolex Daytona

Parilla was a mentor to Senna in his early career

The yellow gold Ref. 16528 was made circa 1989 and uses a 39 mm yellow gold case with a screw down crown and chronograph pushers and is fitted with a Mark 1 bezel. The R Series 16528 chronograph was among the early Daytona models fitted with a self-winding movement. This watch is powered by the famed Caliber 4030, which was a reworked Zenith El Primero movement.  The casebook of the watch has the engraving "A Angelo da Ayrton 1978” (to Angelo from Ayrton) and is believed to have been gifted to Parilla around 1990.

Note the positioning of the word Cosmograph on the dial

The three-register dial of the some of the early automatic Daytona models from 1988 and 1989 had the word Cosmograph placed slightly lower than the other legends on the dial like the name of the brand. The word Cosmograph seemed to “float" on the layout and this dial was soon referred to in the collecting community as a “floating dial”. And like everything else in the vintage Rolex universe, a seemingly insignificant detail like, is prized by collectors. 

The watch is accompanied by letter from Angelo Parrilla confirming the watch was gifted to him, photographs, original box, service guarantee, pouch, product literature, an autographed picture of Ayrton Senna, and an autographed helmet faceguard.