Paul Newman's Rolex Sells For Record $17.8-million

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Paul Newman's Rolex Sells For Record $17.8-million at Phillips Bacs & Russo Auction in New York

 

A Rolex Daytona Ref. 6239, known as the "Paul Newman" owned by legendary actor Paul Newman sold for $15.5-million, plus buyer's premium of 12.5%, for a final price of $17,752,500 at a Phillips in association with Bacs & Russo auction tonight in New York City, setting a new record for a Rolex sold at auction. It is also the record price for any wristwatch sold at auction, and is considered the most iconic wristwatch of the 20th Century. The previous record for a Rolex sold at auction was $5-million for a Rolex Ref. 6062, nicknamed the “Bao Dai” because it was owned by the last emperor of Vietnam. Previously the highest price paid for a Rolex Daytona – the most collectible Rolex model – was $3.7-million, set last spring at a Phillips, Bacs & Russo auction. Previously the most expensive wristwatch sold at auction was a Patek Philippe Ref. 1518, for $11-million, also sold by Phillips.

 

The so-called “Paul Newman” Daytona, worn by the actor, is the most sought-after Daytona model, and the model sold tonight was the original: Paul Newman's "Paul Newman". The reference, which wasn’t called the Paul Newman until the 1980s when it began to gain traction as a collector’s piece is distinguishable from other Daytona models for the “square lollipop” ends on the subdial markers and for its Art Deco font. It also has contrasting colored seconds scale along the periphery of the dial, and a Daytona signature over the lower subdial rather than under the upper signature, as on most other Daytonas. Officially called the Rolex Oyster Cosmograph Daytona, it was produced in six different series between 1963 and the late 1970s, but was discontinued because of poor sales. Paul Newman wore the one auctioned today – a Ref. 6239, made in 1963. It was a gift from his wife, Joanne Woodward, who engraved “Drive Carefully, Me” on the caseback. Newman gifted it in 1984 to James Cox, the former boyfriend and now close friend of Paul Newman’s daughter Nell. A portion of the proceeds of tonight's sale will go to the Nell Newman Foundation, a charitable foundation that supports her father’s philanthropic values, while serving Nell’s commitment to organic foods and sustainable agriculture.  A portion of the sale proceeds will also go to benefit Newman’s Own Foundation.

Carol Besler covers watches for Watch Journal, Watch Time, Robb Report, Nuvo, Revolution and International Watch. For more of her stories see watchdetail.com

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