This all started with a loving wife reminding her husband to drive carefully.
Firstly, the Rolex Daytona watch wasn't particularly desirable in the late 1960s - its large graphic typeface and cream on black dial was flashy, in an Art Deco sort of way, and not many customers gravitated toward it. Realizing that it was a tough sell, Rolex limited production for the model and unknowingly created a crackerjack that would come to mystify vintage watch collectors decades later.
It wasn't until Joanne Woodward - actress and wife of the mega movie star Paul Newman - selected this little worn Rolex Daytona, as a cautionary gift for her husband at the onset of his race-car driving career, that it would begin to gain traction. On the backside of her husbands version, Woodward inscribed "Drive Carefully Me." If the flamboyance of this model was a deterrent at the time, it was probably because most men didn't feel that they could pull it off - well, Paul Newman certainly could.
The world famous Hollywood heartthrob wore his wife's good luck charm on and off the racetrack for 15 years, thus adopting its synonymous name the "Paul Newman" Daytona Rolex. Newman's actual watch, known to many as "the greatest watch on the planet" - was recently auctioned in October 2017 by Phillps' New York, selling for a record breaking $17.8 million.
Virtually identical to Paul Newman's model, this rare and highly-desireable "Paul Newman" Rolex from 1968 is the leading highlight for Fortuna Auction's upcoming Important Watches sale on June 28th. Other outstanding examples from makers such as Patek Philippe, Breguet, Hublot and Omega will be handsomely represented.
Recognized early on for its endurance in various sports fields such as aviation, mountaineering and motor racing, Rolex embraced the role as a high performance tool and innovated the first entirely waterproof watch - the Oyster - and went on to receive praise from famous drivers such as Sir Malcolm Campbell (the worlds fastest driver in 1935) for keeping perfect time in strenuous conditions.
Paul Newman (wearing his Rolex) and Joanne Woodward at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival.
Thirty years after being tested and praised by Sir Malcolm Campbell, the company became Daytona's official timekeeper and proceeded the following year (1963) to introduce The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona to specifically meet the demands of professional racing drivers. The installed chronograph, which essentially functions as a stop-watch, allows drivers to precisely measure averages speeds up to 400 kilometers (250 miles per hour) as they choose. The 1968 model, reference number 6239, was worn by Paul Newman behind the wheel, and is also the same model as the upcoming Lot 2104 being offered by Fortuna Auctions.
There is arguably no more desirable vintage watch model today than the Rolex Daytona featuring the exotic "Paul Newman" dial. It's not only steeped in classic American masculinity, linked to a Hollywood icon, it also appeals to admirers of motor sports and cars.
The opportunity to place bids on an authentic, "Paul Newman" Daytona Rolex, ref. 6239 from 1968 online with Bidsquare is like catching air from a slingshot maneuver around the track, you won't have to worry about floor bidders nudging your bumper or steering you off course - just click on the throttle like hell.
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Jessica Helen Weinberg | Senior Content Editor at Bidsquare