The “Paul Newman” Rolex Daytona is probably the most mythical and legendary wristwatch in existence. And now it has become the most expensive wristwatch in existence, hammering for $17,752,500 including buyer’s premium. This is a world record for a wristwatch at auction.
The “Paul Newman” predicate is used to denote a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Oyster with the reference numbers 6239, 6241, 6262, 6263, 6264, or 6265. Additionally, the references must have one of four dial color combinations: a “panda” dial with the black background and white chronograph totalizer subdials; inverse panda with white background and black chronograph totalizers; inverse panda with cream-colored background and black chronograph totalizers; anthracite-colored background with white chronograph totalizers.
Newman’s name became linked to the model after his wife Joanne Woodward gave him a Daytona when he began auto racing in 1972.
The Paul Newman Daytonas are the most sought-after types of vintage Rolex today. Though a multitude of Paul Newman Daytonas and other stainless steel Rolex models have come to auction in recent years (most recently one hammered at Phillips in 2016 for almost 2 million Swiss francs as I outlined in Steel Rolex From 1942 Sets Auction Record, Sells For Nearly $2.5 Million At Phillips Geneva), not one of these has been Newman’s “own.”
Last night, Phillips auctioned Newman’s own Reference 6239 with a personal inscription on the back from his wife, Joanne Woodward (“Drive Carefully Me”). This watch, which had never been offered publicly before, was added to the auction by James Cox, who once dated Newman’s daughter, Nell. Proceeds are set to go to a charitable foundation founded by her called the Nell Newman Foundation.