The first Rolex Daytona that was owned by the legendary actor Paul Newman was auctioned by Phillips back in 2017, and it shattered the record for most expensive watch ever to be sold at an auction. As if one Paul Newman watch wasn’t enough, later on this year, a second Daytona which belonged to the star will be up for auction.
And who better to offer it than the famed Phillips auction house? The RACING PULSE auction will take place on the 12th of December in New York City, so be sure to mark your calendars!
The team at ItalianWatchSpotter would hate to leave you in the dark. What we love, instead, is to bring some great news to our wonderful community of readers and followers… and 2020 sure needs some good news. Amidst a pandemic, political, economic and environmental hardship, Aurel Bacs and his hard-working team seem to be achieving record after record as if nothing strange were happening around them.
Anyway, without further ado, let’s get into the lots that are on everyone’s mind!
Paul Newman’s own Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman”
If you’re unfamiliar with that phrase, you’re either lying, or have been living under a rock for the past 3 years.
Okay, that’s a bit harsh – if you’ve only just just gotten into the world of watches, we’ll let you off, but if you’ve been following the industry for more than a year, you must have come across this now iconic engraving.
One thing’s for sure: when Joanne Woodward gifted this Rolex Daytona to her husband back in 1968, she certainly did not expect the timepiece to reach the level of stardom that is has, let alone that it would go on to be the second-most expensive watch in history. Fear not Joanne, for none of us did.
Auctioned by Phillips in October of 2017 to the tune of 17.8 Million USD, it’s arguably the most “iconic” watch of all time. (This term gets used and abused in this industry, but holy moly if there were ever a time to use this word, it would be for this timepiece).
“Pump” pushers, metallic bezel… if you don’t instantly recognise the reference number from these two clues, you haven’t read our comprehensive guide. Before going any further, click here to find out why this isn’t a 6263 (nor a 6241, either).
When Rolex was designing and manufacturing this watch, its intended use was pretty clear, and it was exactly what Paul Newman used it for: automobile racing. And what better movement to use than the splendid Valjoux 72 with a column wheel?
But the most exciting element of this 6239 isn’t the caliber. Let’s think formulaically: “Paul Newman” Daytona = Stunning Dial (even though we’re going to go ahead and disprove that later on in this article!).
“Exotic” is the key word. When you read it, what springs to mind?
Personally, when I think exotic, I think of coconuts, sun-kissed skin and tropical beaches…. but certainly not the blue-eyed Hollywood actor. Yet, the name of these types of dials (which we now refer to as “Paul Newmans”), was originally exactly that: exotic. This would all be fine and dandy if it weren’t for the way that the whole Paul Newman story (which, don’t get me wrong, is really exciting) sort of “equated itself” to “exotic”: a lot of people misassociate the term.
The name obviously rose from the fact that Paul Newman himself owned this watch in real life. Unlike many of us/you who are fortunate enough to own one, the actor did not keep it locked in a safe.
With this exact watch, Paul Newman did something that not many can say they do nowadays: he used it. He used it on set, when he swam, and most importantly, he used it to time his laps in his racecars.
Famous actor, talented pilot, and a great taste in watches. Add in a whole load of old-school Hollywood charm, and it comes as no surprise how Newman (and his watch) quickly rose to stardom.
After having lived a full life on Paul’s wrist, the legendary Daytona found a new owner: James Cox, who was dating Newman’s daughter in the 1990s. James wore it for nearly 20 years, and nearly parted ways with it without knowing its value (both economic and symbolic). After learning about how coveted that watch was, he decided it was best to hand it over to Phillips New York watch division in 2017. It was always going to be auctioned for a significant amount, but I don’t think James and the Newman family expected a figure quite like the one it ultimately reached.
Plot Twist: there is another
There’s a saying in Italian – “spesso, i fatti passano alla storia sempre confusi” – it means: often, facts go down in history in a confusing manner. This saying definitely applies to this second Rolex Daytona that Newman owned, because – call it irony, or call it an injustice – this watch represents Paul Newman better.
Drive Slowly / Joanne
Someone needs to give Joanne Woodward a prize in one-liners, or watch caseback engravings (or heck, both), because this is nothing short of legendary. Many think that caseback engravings tend to ruin the watch, and Joanne Woodward definitely didn’t get that memo. We’re glad she didn’t, though, because this adds an entirely new dimension of classiness to this Rolex Daytona ref. 6263, which money just can’t buy (well, I mean, you can really, as it’s up for auction).
“Hang on… I’ve seen this watch before?”
Yes, indeed you have: it’s the cover to Matt Hranek’s critically acclaimed “A Man and His Watch” book! Which – side note – we did an interview with him not too long ago… check it out!
Paul Newman’s own Rolex Daytona 6263 “Non Paul Newman”
It’s strange, isn’t it? It’s a watch which belonged to Paul Newman, but it isn’t a “Paul Newman”, and it certainly isn’t an “exotic” dial.
So, how exactly does it differ to the exemplar from 3 years ago? Short answer: a lot. (get it?)
For starters, it’s missing the peculiar and endearing “bund” strap (a classic two-piece leather strap with a wider “platform” under the caseback). Instead, this piece sports a seemingly perfectly preserved Oyster bracelet. The reference is different, too. For the full breakdown of references, you can consult our aforementioned guide!
But I think what sets it apart from Paul Newman’s “Paul Newman” the most is, perhaps, it’s “less iconic”. I say this (with great caution) because it wasn’t his first. You see, Paul received this Daytona as a 25th wedding anniversary gift. Upon receipt, that’s when he gave his “Paul Newman” (6239) Daytona to James Cox.
This 6263 was no less important to Newman himself, though, as we can see many images of him at automobile racing events, wearing this watch – often with the pushers in their unscrewed position – ready to be utilised.
Should we expect an auction figure similar to the last one?
Honestly? I don’t think so.
What? You’ve hyped it up so much!!
Indeed, I think it’ll be such a shame if (and I fear it’s not a matter of if, but when) this piece doesn’t get auctioned for a record-breaking price. I also think, however, that this watch will take more of a connoisseur to fully appreciate the magnitude of sentiment and symbolism this timepiece brings with it.
Why do we say that? Picture this: a watch collector who owns a 6263 Big Red (which, principally, is what this is). Nothing really special, right?
Now think about it from that person’s perspective: you’re wearing a watch – which is an incredible watch, by all accounts – which is considered as “just” a 6263 Big Red. No one truly knows the lineage and the history that is sitting on your wrist. Imagine that: flying “under the radar” with Paul Newman’s very own watch. What a feeling.
And it is with this precise spirit and sentiment with which we will follow the upcoming Phillips auction, and we can only hope that this mindset will be held by the lucky person who will make it theirs. We’ll reconvene on the 13th of December to see if we’re in the presence of another record holder.
P.s.: The watch sold for a good 5.475 million dollars in the end!
-Translated Patrick R.