‘A Angelo da Ayrton 1978’ – that’s what the engraving reads on the case back of this Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ref. #16528, which was reportedly a personal gift from Ayrton Senna to his former karting rival and mentor Angelo Parrilla circa-1989. A decade earlier, Parrilla had discovered the young Brazilian and brought him to Italy to compete in karting.

Rolex Daytona

It was a move that would set him on course to win three Formula 1 world championships (1988, 1990, and 1991) and become one of the greatest drivers ever to have lived, until that fateful day at Imola in 1994 when a freak accident claimed his life. Now, the watch will be sold by Phillips at its Geneva Watch Auction: Nine on 11–12 May, accompanied by a raft of Senna memorabilia including a signed helmet visor dating to 1988 and a letter from Parrilla confirming the Rolex’s authenticity.

Senna watch

A unique timepiece intrinsically linked to a man who is commonly held as the greatest ever, it’s been given an accordingly significant pre-sale estimate of 100,000–200,000 CHF.