Rolex Daytona watches have become one of the most sought-after in the horological world thanks to the style’s first fan, Paul Newman. When the actor, director and philanthropist began his race car driving career, he wore the not-so-popular Daytona model as a precision instrument to time laps and it turned into a good luck charm. Rolex “Paul Newman Daytona” watches are now a coveted vintage model, but even rarer are Daytonas worn by Newman himself. One hit a record-setting price in 2017 for $17.8 million, and next month, two more Rolex Daytona watches worn by Newman will be put up for auction.
The reference 16520 Zenith 1993 Daytona was presented to Newman after his team won the GTS-1 class at the 1995 24 Hours of Daytona Race — and he became the oldest driver to ever win at 70 years old. He auctioned off the watch in 1999 and gave the proceeds to charity, but he was seen years later wearing it again, prompting many to believe he or someone else bought it back. The 116519 Daytona from 2006 was the last Daytona ever gifted to Newman by his wife, Joanne Woodward, and it includes the engraved note, “Drive Very Slowly Joanne.” He wore it when he drove his final laps in 2008. Both are estimated to sell for $500,000 – $1 million apiece.
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“Watches were Paul Newman’s faithful companions throughout his life, especially during his celebrated racing career,” Leigh Safar, Sotheby’s Head of Important Watches, NY tells GRAZIA Gazette: Formula 1. “What’s so fascinating about his relationship with watches is that he didn’t wear them out of vanity or for what they might be worth, but used them purely based on their primary function—and in his case as a racecar driver, as a precision instrument to time laps around the track. It’s an extraordinary opportunity to present these two horological treasures that are imbued with sentimental and historical value imparting from pinnacle moments in Newman’s illustrious racing career.”
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After the watches travel in exhibitions in Hong Kong, Los Angeles and Geneva, they will go on sale in New York City during Sotheby’s Important Watches auction on June 9. 300 other items from Newman and Woodward’s estate will also be auctioned in June.
This article originally appeared on Grazia USA.
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