Paul Newman is not only one of the most celebrated actors of all time but also one of the most influential figures in the world of watches. His name is forever associated with the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, a chronograph model that he wore for decades and that became known as the “Paul Newman” watch among collectors.
The Paul Newman Daytona is one of the most sought-after and expensive watches in the market, with prices reaching millions of dollars at auctions. In 2017, Newman’s own Daytona, a gift from his wide Joanne Woodward, sold for a record-breaking $17.8 million at Philips in New York, making it the most expensive wristwatch ever auctioned.
But Newman did not own just one Daytona. He had several, and he often gave them away to his friends and family. Two of these watches recently came up for sale at two different auctions, and both fetched staggering sums.
The first one was a stainless Daytona ref. 6263 with a black dial and white subdials, which Newman gave to his daughter Clea’s then boyfriend in 1984. The watch was engraved with the message “Drive slowly Joanne”, a reference to Newman’s passion for racing and Woodward’s concern for his safety. The watch was sold by Phillips in Geneva in May 8 for $5.5 million, making it the second most expensive Daytona ever sold.
The second was a gold Daytona ref. 6241 with a champagne dial and black subdials, which Newman gave to his personal assistant Elinor Bodenhom in 1981. The watch was engraved with the message “To Ellie love Paul Newman”, and come with a letter from Newman confirming its authenticity. The watch was sold by Christie’s in New York on June 8 for $3.7 million, making it the most expensive gold Daytona ever sold.
These two watches demonstrate the enduring appeal and value of Paul Newman’s legacy in the watch world. They also show who personal stories and provenance can elevate a watch to a whole new level of desirability and rarity. As Paul Boutros, head of watches at Philips, said: “The significance of these watches cannot be overstated”.