The Paul Newman Rolex Daytona is arguably the most iconic and sought after watch by watch collectors today. Purportedly coined by vintage Rolex enthusiasts sometime in the 1980’s the term ‘Paul Newman Daytona’ became synonymous with the Rolex Daytona watch variety that is defined by its distinct dial, commonly referred to as the ‘exotic dial.’
Over the past 30 years, the value of these Paul Newman Daytonas has been on an aggressive rise, with a general starting auction estimate of $60,000-$90,000. Recent auctions are seeing record-setting numbers, with some Paul Newman Daytonas soaring well north of their high estimates. But why? What makes this Paul Newman Daytona, a watch that has no mechanical difference from its vintage Daytona counterpart, so popular amongst watch collectors?
It has most to do with its rarity. According to watch experts, only 1 out of every 20 vintage Daytonas produced have a ‘Paul Newman’ dial. Further to this, each of the 6 references that were produced with this dial have their own subtle nuances, such as color combination, material, and caliber type that only add to their appeal.
One of the most remarkable examples of a Paul Newman Daytona sale at auction was on November 10th, 2013 at Christies’ ‘Lesson One’ sale in Geneva, where a 6263 model Paul Newman sold for $1.1 million dollars – the highest price ever achieved at public auction for a Daytona. As stated by Christies, this watch remained in a Swiss retailer’s vault for many years before being sold in 1978, which indicates that the watch was unworn and therefore in excellent condition.
In addition, there were so few 6263 models with black dials that had the word configuration that this watch had. Typically on normal dials, the wording reads “Rolex Oyster Cosmograph”, while on this particular dial, the wording configuration is “Rolex Cosmograph Oyster”. Adding to that was a low serial number, suggesting that this dial may have been limited to a small number of watches as a ‘first series’ production.
So what does the future of the Paul Newman Daytona look like? Are we experiencing a peak in the market, or will prices continue to rise? Some experts believe that following the success of the November 2013 sale at Christies, there has been so much hype surrounding the market which has caused a temporary upswing in popularity and value. On the other hand, the more optimistic enthusiasts predict that as we learn more and more about these watches and become progressively adept at spotting inauthentic dials, the value for genuine Paul Newman’s will increase. It’s difficult to predict, but that’s the excitement of the watch market – with passionate collectors, anything is possible.