Paul Newman's Iconic Rolex Watches Expected to Fetch Up to $1 Million at Auction
Paul Newman's legacy lives on, and it is not just limited to his acting career or philanthropic work. Newman was a celebrated car racer and watch enthusiast, and his vast collection of timepieces is the stuff of legends. Two of his prized Rolexes, the "Zenith" Daytona and the classic Daytona, are set to be auctioned this summer by Sotheby's, during their Important Watches auction in New York on June 9. Each timepiece with its unique backstory, is expected to fetch between $500,000 and $1 million.
According to Robb Report, Newman's "Zenith" Daytona (ref. 16520) was gifted to him in 1995 after he won in the GTS-1 class at the 24 Hours of Daytona. The stainless-steel chronograph, circa 1993, is inscribed with text that reads "Rolex at Daytona 24 Paul Newman Rolex Motorsports Man of the Year 1995" to mark the very occasion. Newman later put the watch up for auction in Antiquorum's 1995 "Famous Faces" sale, and it was sold for $39,000 to benefit his charity, The Hole in the Wall Gang. The organization provides medically supervised summer camps and other free programs to kids with illnesses.
Sotheby's believes that one of Newman's loved ones bought the watch back for him, as he was seen wearing it at events years later. Newman's win at the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1995, at the age of 70, made him the oldest winner of the race, and the achievement still stands in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Newman's white-gold chronograph Daytona (ref. 116519), circa 2006, was a gift from his wife, Joanne Woodward. The watch is one of three known Daytonas gifted to the actor but is reportedly the last Daytona he received. The back-case of the watch is engraved with the phrase "Drive Very Slowly Joanna," which is believed to be a reminder from his wife to keep his hands on the steering wheel at 10 and 2 and be careful when he went car-racing. Newman was often seen wearing this watch at high-profile events, from the Indy 500 to his iconic Barbara Walters interview in 2007.
According to Wionews, in 2017, a Rolex Daytona that belonged to Newman was sold by New York auction house Phillips for a staggering $17.8 million at auction, setting a world record for a wristwatch.
“Paul Newman is a name in the world of horology that has withstood the test of time,” Leigh Safar, head of sale, Important Watches & Specialist, Americas, said in a statement. “Newman cemented his legacy with watch collectors through his influence on Rolex’s most sought-after model, the Daytona."
From April 1 through 7, both Daytonas will be on display at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. This actually coincides with the 50th-anniversary celebration of the auction house’s presence in Asia. This year also marks six decades since the introduction of the Daytona. “As Rolex celebrates 60 years of the Daytona this year, we are proud to share in that milestone and present two models worn and owned by the Hollywood legend, which narrates the everlasting love he shared with his wife, Joanne, and his deep passion for racing,” added Safar.