With an estimate in excess of one million USD, but in our guess a watch that will probably fetch money in excess of $10 million USD, Paul Newman’s very own Rolex 'Paul Newman' Daytona will be sold today at the Phillips’ Inaugural New York Watch Auction 'Winning Icons'. As we will be reporting live straight from the auction, this inaugural auction named 'WINNING ICONS: Legendary Watches of the 20th Century' will be dedicated to the most iconic collectors watches of the last century including this very special watch with a cult following.
A historic event in its own right, this is the first time that the Rolex 'Paul Newman' Cosmograph Daytona ref. 6239 owned and worn by none other than Paul Newman will be offered for sale. With an absolutely superb provenance, it is the watch that inspired the legendary nickname for the most prestigious versions of Rolex’s Daytona.
A Hollywood legend in every sense, mere mention of the name Paul Newman conjures up images of his distinguished life and careers as an actor, director, racecar driver, entrepreneur, family man, and philanthropist. Outside of his artistic endeavors, Newman had long been passionate about speed. It was his role in the 1969 film, 'Winning', playing racecar driver Frank Capua, where his passion for racing would form.
His wife and fellow actress, Joanne Woodward, fittingly played the role of Capua’s wife —a role she had already been perfecting for a decade in their personal lives. Taking place at the Indianapolis 500 Motor Speedway, the movie launched his hugely successful auto-racing career. Applying the same methodical discipline that honed his acting skills, he trained relentlessly, and would go on to win many races throughout his lifetime —even placing second at the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans race.
But even in the earliest days on the set of Winning, his wife Joanne was fearing he would hurt himself in an accident. Either during or following the filming of 'Winning', Joanne purchased this Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ref. 6239 and presented it to him with a special engraving on its case back: “DRIVE CAREFULLY ME”.
A woman of exceptional taste, Joanne Woodward chose a rare and exclusive version of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona fitted with an 'exotic' dial. The reference 6239 was the very first model of Rolex’s iconic Cosmograph 'Daytona' series —produced between 1963 until 1970. It was the firm's first chronograph with a tachymeter scale engraved on the bezel, designed to instantly and clearly measure speed.
During the 1980s, as watch collecting began to grow, Daytonas fitted with the 'exotic' dial became known as the 'Paul Newman' Daytonas after the famous actor. Along with the red 'Daytona' designation at 6 o’clock and the red outer seconds track found on Paul Newman’s watch, the signature trait of exotic, 'Paul Newman' dials is their subsidiary dials. The beautiful, art-deco flare of the font used, and the hash marks with small squares used for the counters set these exotic dials apart from the standard dials more commonly seen on Daytonas.
This absolutely fresh-to-the-market wristwatch is the 'Paul Newman' after which all others came second. Throughout his career, Mr. Newman was seen wearing many different generations of Daytona models. This is the first Daytona he wore, and is the only 'exotic' dial Daytona that Mr. Newman owned and wore, making it the ultimate Rolex Daytona wristwatch. Accordingly, world records continue to be achieved for Rolex’s Cosmograph Daytona models and set at past Phillips Watches auctions including the 18K yellow gold Daytona 'Paul Newman' ref. 6263, referred to in literature as 'The Legend' that just sold by Phillips in May 2017 for $3,717,906 USD and then the stainless steel Daytona 'Paul Newman' Oyster Sotto ref. 6263 that was also sold by Phillips a year ago $2,024,700 USD.
For years, until 1984, Paul Newman wore this watch faithfully. Ultimately, it was given directly by Mr. Newman to the consignor. In the fall semester of 1983 at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, Paul Newman's daughter Nell began dating a fellow student named James Cox. At school, she kept her famous background secret, going by her largely unknown stage name, Nell Potts. The summer of 1984, when both Nell and James were staying at her family’s house in Westport, Connecticut. That summer, Nell was hired as a hack‐site attendant in Vermont, helping rehabilitate Peregrine Falcons to return to the wild. James stayed behind at the house along with Paul Newman, and eventually came up with the idea to upgrade and rebuild the impressive tree house on the main property, known as 'Nook House'. It was this very tree house that convinced Nell’s mother, Joanne Woodward, to purchase the home. For Paul and Joanne, the tree house was in fact the most important feature of Nook House, and it was central to the longevity of their incredible, 50-year marriage.
Nell Newman recalls the story below, in her signed letter accompanying the watch:
“The tree house was perched in a large oak tree that cantilevered over the Aspetuck River at my childhood home in Westport, Connecticut. We had two family homes, one on each side of the river. That summer Pop was living in one, and James was living in the other. Pop would frequent the river bank to check on James’ progress. During one such encounter, Pop asked James if he knew the time. Apparently Pop forgot to wind his wristwatch that morning. James responded that he didn’t know the time and didn’t own a watch. Pop handed James his Rolex and said, “if you can remember to wind this each day, it tells pretty good time.”
Since that day, James treasured the watch and has preserved it in all original condition. Together, James and Nell, who remain close friends, have jointly decided to sell the watch, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Nell Newman Foundation. The charitable foundation 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.
Today, October 26, 2017 history will write itself as the auction takes place in New York City starting at 6pm EST. Lot number 8 out of 50 will for sure become the most expensive Rolex ever sold at auction and perhaps one of the top 5 most expensive wristwatches ever sold at auction. Stay tuned for our coverage and we leave you with this wrist shot we captured yesterday with Paul Newman's very own Daytona Paul Newman reference 6239 on our very own wrist.
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