A Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Oyster that belonged to legendary actor Paul Newman is going to be auctioned off by Phillips Watches in New York in October this year. But this isn’t any other vintage celebrity-owned timepiece that’s about to hit the auction block, this is the mythical chronograph that spawned the vintage ‘Paul Newman’ Daytona craze.
The Paul Newman Daytona are the Rolex models with the reference numbers 6239, 6241, 6262, 6263, 6364 or 6265. These references had either a ‘panda’ dial or a ‘reverse panda’ dial layout with red-scale lettering on the perimeter. But the most distinguishable feature in these chronographs was the art deco font and the matchstick markers used in the chronograph counters. These dials were manufactured by the Swiss company Singer who also made similar styled sub-dials for brands like Lip and Nivada.
The Paul Newman Daytona is undoubtedly among the most coveted vintage watches in the market today and typically fetches around $80,000-100,000. The craze has spawned enough fakes for experts to now suggest that there are actually more fake Paul Newman Daytonas out there than authentic examples.
Newman’s chronograph, a Ref. 6239, was a gift from his wife Joanne Woodward in 1972 with the inscription “Drive Carefully Me” – a reference to the fact that the American actor wore this watch in the professional races that he participated in starting at the Thompson International Speedway in 1972.
The Wall Street Journal Magazine reported that James Cox, who once dated Newman’s daughter Nell, is offering this watch for sale. It is believed that Newman himself gifted the watch to Cox. All proceeds from the sale will go towards the Nell Newman Foundation, a charity that was established in 2010.
The most expensive Rolex sold at any auction this far has been a Ref. 6062 Triple Calendar Moonphase once owned by Bao Dai, the last Emperor of Vietnam. This rare wristwatch was sold for $5 million (including buyer’s premium) in May this year. Newman’s Daytona has a pre-sale estimate in excess of $1 million. Given the watch’s provenance and legendary status, this one will be at the center of a fierce bidding war come October. To read more about the Newman Daytona, click here.