Legendary Watches: Paul Newman Rolex Daytona

You might think that the Paul Newman Rolex Daytona Cosmographs were popular from day one, but you’d be wrong. Now extolled as one of the most exquisite and playful dials ever produced, Rolex doubted the commercial potential of the unusual sub-dials’ quirks, and so fewer were produced than the more readily saleable variants.

Paul Newman Rolex Daytona - Image 1
Image courtesy of Phillips

Rolex thought the exotic dials would be a nice addition to their collection; I doubt anyone within the company realised exactly what they’d created – a design so far ahead of its time, it still looks fresh almost half a century later.

But then, were it not for the almost accidental association with Hollywood’s blue-eyed son, Paul Newman, we might not be talking about this watch in 2017.

Paul Newman Rolex Daytona - Image 2
Image courtesy of Phillips

Paul Newman didn’t actually have anything to do with the creation of this watch. His wife, Joanne, purchased him a ref 6239 when he started motor racing in 1972.

A quick note on references: There are only a handful of references that are ‘officially’ classed as Paul Newman Rolex Daytonas. You can find a nice breakdown of their unique features in this article by Hodinkee.

Following the record-shattering sale of a ref 6263 for $1,100,000 at Christie’s in 2013, the demand for a genuine Paul Newman Daytona in good condition has grown and grown. 2016 saw a stainless-steel variant top the two-million-dollar mark, while this May saw a gold Daytona sell for $3,700,000 at a Phillips auction in Geneva.

The time could scarcely be more perfect for the actual Rolex Daytona worn by the great man himself to hit the market. On October 26 2017, the watch bought by a doting wife for one of the world’s most iconic film stars will go under the hammer at the Winning Icons auction held by Phillips in NYC. It’s difficult to speculate what the sale price will be, but I am confident it will dwarf the insultingly conservative estimate of $1,000,000. Experts have bandied around the possibility it might sell for ten times as much, and I would not be surprised if that gigantic estimate were closer to the mark.

Paul Newman Rolex Daytona - Image 3
Image courtesy of Phillips

As I often reference when discussing investment potential, there are several factors at play when it comes to determining an item’s value: Rarity, aesthetics, provenance, and, in this case, being a huge part of history. This watch is patient zero of a fever that’s been lathering the watch industry for decades. Just like the Patek Philippe Grand Complication designed for Henry Graves, I can see this watch changing hands many times over the next few years, sending records tumbling each and every time it does.

A Paul Newman Rolex Daytona is absolutely one of the most secure investments that can be made in the pre-loved watch market, but its popularity brings with it many pitfalls. There are more fake or Frankenstein Paul Neman Daytonas on the market than there are genuine ones. The dream of finding a mint reference 6240 at a garage sale is little more than a pipe dream, so expect to pay five figures to break into the owners club of the lower-end pieces, and be prepared to put that yacht purchase on hold if you want to mix it with the big boys.

Immense as the figures are, it’ll be money well spent. And unlike many high-profile investments, this one’s unlikely to have a ‘Sting’ in the tale.

If you have an authentic Paul Newman Rolex Daytona that you’d like to secure financing against, Borro can assist. Submit an inquiry today.

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About the Author:

Fell Jensen is a Swiss-trained watchmaker working as an industry analyst.