The "Oyster Sotto" or "Oyster Below" dial is also commonly known as the "RCO" as it features the words "Rolex", "Cosmograph", and then "Oyster" aligned vertically on the dial.
The Paul Newman Oyster Sotto Daytona is unquestionably one of the ultimate goals for the Daytona collector. Amongst the extremely small number of such pieces produced, the watches with a Mark 1 dial are undeniably the rarest of the rare, near-unattainable trophies of the Rolex world.
Previously unknown to the auction market, the present Rolex reference 6263 Paul Newman Oyster Sotto Cosmograph Daytona is one of the most important examples of the model. Consigned by the original owner, an American who purchased the watch new directly from a Rolex retailer, it is a tremendous fresh-to-market example of this grail watch for many vintage Rolex collectors.
Less than 20 examples are known in total with the Oyster “Sotto” designation whereby the “Oyster” designation is found below the word “Cosmograph” instead of above it. The Oyster “Sotto” dials were only fitted to a very, very few of the first reference 6263 water-resistant Oyster Cosmographs. The Paul Newman dial itself was discontinued relatively shortly after the introduction of reference 6263, so only low serial number watches were fitted with this style of dial presumably at the request of either clients or certain retailers.
Furthermore, some of these very special “first of the few” have dials with a distinctly different font type that can be classed as a “Mark 1” dial as they only appear on those watches with the very lowest serial numbers. Of all the Paul Newman Oyster Sotto watches publically known, only a few examples including the present watch are publically known with Mark 1 dials. These watches were all manufactured in 1969 and, as would be expected, have serial numbers in extremely close proximity to each other in the 2’0855** range, all are fitted with 6239 casebacks stamped C.R.S for the maker C.R. Spillmann S.A. and have caliber 727 movements.
Mark 1 Sotto Dial
Only found on watches made in 1969 within the 2’085’5** serial number range, it is distinguishable by the very different font type for the “R” of Rolex which is wider and “fatter”, the “G” in Cosmograph has a serif and shorter inward return and the “H” is more pronouncedly asymmetric.
Mark II Sotto Dial
Found on watches from the 2’1 million serial number range onwards, it is distinguishable by the very close legs of the “R” of Rolex with very pronounced serifs, the “G” of Cosmograph without serif and long return almost touching the inner curve, wider and more even “H”.
The “Sotto” Dial History
The dials that have become legendary as the “Oyster Sotto” were originally intended for the non-waterproof references such as 6262 and 6264 which are signed “Rolex Cosmograph Daytona” only. When the new water-resistant “Oyster” case was introduced for the reference 6263 around 1969 it is clear that certain customers must have specifically requested that their watch should have an exotic dial of the type now known by collectors as the “Paul Newman”. Of course no such dials existed yet specifically for the water-resistant Oyster model and therefore a small number of the already printed current non-Oyster dials were adapted with the addition of the word “Oyster” in plain font. As the dials were already pre-printed there was no option but to place the word “Oyster” below the words “Rolex Cosmograph”. And thus an anomaly was created that exists in so few examples that it has become a pinnacle of desirability among Rolex Daytonas.