Paul Newman’s ‘Paul Newman’ Rolex Daytona Coming to Auction
Actor Paul Newman”s Rolex Daytona reference 6239 is coming to auction in October at Phillip’s
It is said that among vintage watch collectors, certain ones are known as Holy Grail watches. They are the ones that inspire spirited bidding and the winner’s bragging rights.
To date, the topper is a stainless-steel Patek Philippe that sold for $11.1-M at Phillip’s last November. Patek produced only 281 of these Y 1941 wristwatches, mostly in Gold, 4 are known to have been made in Stainless Steel.
The early Daytona Rolex, a limited run of sports watches produced from Y 1966 until the mid-1970’s, made famous by the actor and philanthropist Paul Newman, who wore his daily in the ’70’s. He was a friend, and saw him wearing all the time.
In May, an 18-karat Gold “Paul Newman” Daytona fetched $3.7-M at Phillips in Geneva. A year earlier the company sold a Stainless-Steel version for $2-M. But neither of those were Paul Newman’s Own.
Soon some collector will be able to buy what has come to be known as the holiest of Holy grail watches, Paul Newman’s own Paul Newman Daytona.
“You ask 100 collectors over dinners what’s on their shopping list—the Paul Newman Daytona Rolex,” said senior consultant for watches at Phillips, which is managing the auction in New York on 26 October.
Phillips estimates that Paul Newman’s Stainless-Steel Rolex Daytona will hammer more than $1-M, a conservative estimate. I expect the winning bidder will be prepared to pay $10-M for it.
Rolex began making Daytona chronographs in Y 1963 to meet the needs of professional race car drivers.
The main innovation had to do with the tachometer, a scale that works in conjunction with the chronograph, the stopwatch.
In Y 1966 the company came out with a Daytona version featuring art deco-style fonts and multiple color details such as a Red, outer secs track.
Newman got his watch—a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, reference #6239, made in Y 1968, as a gift from his wife, actress Joanne Woodward.
They starred together in the Y 1969 movie Winning, which sparked Newman’s successful real-life racing career. A company that I was associated with back then put Paul Newman in his 1st race car and did all of the special racing effects for the film.
Paul’s Daytona had a white dial, 3 black subdials, the Red outer track, and Joanne’s engraving on the back: “DRIVE CAREFULLY ME.”
Some collectors have said publicly the Paul’s Daytona could set an auction record for a wristwatch.
The stakes are high the Newman Rolex. Phillips has built an entire auction; Winning Icons: Milestone Watches of the 20th Century—around the trophy.
This caliber of collector is a self-made billionaire perhaps in his 30’s or 40’s. Someone who’s made his fortune in finance, commodities, or social media.
The auction house will send the watch on a global tour: Tokyo, Taipei, Hong Kong, London, Miami, Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, and Greenwich hosting receptions and personal viewings.
In Seattle, there’s a cocktail party planned with Ferrari (NYSE:RACE), in Greenwich, there will be an event with Miller Motorcars.
Investment banks are also lining up special events for their high-net-worth clients.
Phillips has formed a partnership with UBS AG (NYSE:UBS), for example, which serves 60% of the billionaires in the world.
The auction house is also publishing a lavish catalog and promoting it on social media, the watch surely has a story worth sharing.
Some of the history of Paul’s Daytona
In the decade after Paul Newman received it from his wife, the Rolex traveled the world with the Star, appearing on his wrist in promotional materials, magazines, and documentary footage.
Then, in Y 1984, the star passed it on to James Cox, 52 anni, a college student who dated Newman’s daughter Nell.
That Summer, the 2 men got to know each other as Mr Cox spent several weeks renovating a family treehouse that hung over a creek on Newman’s Nook House property in Westport, Conn. The actor would often come by to check on “the Kid” and invite him to grab a bite to eat.
On occasion, Mr. Cox recalls, Paul Newman introduced him as “Family” to visitors.
“Hey, kid, you know what time it is?” Newman asked one day. Cox had no clue. He didn’t own a watch. “If you can remember to wind this each day, it tells pretty good time,” the actor said, taking the Rolex off his wrist.
“It was kind of astonishing that he gave it to me,” says Mr. Cox, 52, who’s selling the watch to raise money for Nell Newman’s non-profit foundation.
Mr. Cox says he wore Newman’s watch proudly for years. But as prices for vintage timepieces began to escalate, he put the token away in a safe deposit box.
Although the romance ended after 10 years, Mr. Cox remains close with and volunteers as the Treasurer of the Nell Newman Foundation.
“The watch was a beautiful gift,” he says. “It’s now my turn to do something beautiful with it.”
The fact is that Paul’s Daytona is priceless, and one the rarest Rolex watches in the world.
But, rest assured it will have a Hammer price this Fall in New York.
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