Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman” Ref. 6239 in Steel | April 2020 Important Watches
The “Paul Newman” is one of the most desirable and valuable of vintage sport watches. Rolex unveiled the first Daytona watch in the early 1960s and named it after the famous raceway. A subset of these watches, with the distinctive “exotic” dial, came to be associated with the American icon, Paul Newman, who is known and revered for his many pursuits, from his acting to his philanthropy, and most importantly his career as a professional race car driver. Paul’s wife gifted him the watch and he became quite fond of it, seen wearing it often—on and off the racetrack.
Paul loved the track and loved racing; his regular use of the timepiece resulted in a cult following of the watch, and over the years, led to a widespread global chase for all variations of this incredibly rare watch. Because the timepiece itself actually did rather poorly in retail when it was originally released, Rolex put very few “Paul Newman” Daytonas into production. The piece was a big departure from more conservative Rolex design which consumers had been accustomed to. The addition of color, the chunky Art Deco fonts in the sub-registers, and the overall look of the dial earned it the name of the “exotic dial”.
The current owner paid only $800 dollars for this watch from an estate buyer in the 1980s. He had no idea of the potential of his watch’s worth until an episode of Antiques Roadshow found a veteran’s old Rolex Daytona to be worth $700,000. Because of Fortuna’s excellent track record selling “Paul Newman” watches, the owner reached out to us directly, and he was thrilled to discover the value of his watch is estimated to be between $130,000 – $200,000 at auction.
It is truly one of most beautifully and subtly designed dials on the market. The white sub registers create a great contrast against the black dial and the very delicate red minute track on the outside of the dial. The US-made Rolex Jubilee bracelet is original to the watch from purchase as this was a common and frequently preferred option for American buyers at that time. This is one of the most sought after for vintage watch collectors, particularly collectors of vintage Rolex. Overall, it is very difficult to find such an outstanding example of this “holy grail” watch.
The value of vintage Rolex Daytonas has continued to climb over the years and industry experts don’t expect them to drop anytime soon. There are only so many on the market and many had been ruined or altered over the years; the ones that are still intact, like this magnificent example, will continue to climb in value.
The Important Watches sale goes live on April 30th at 1PM EDT but online pre-bidding has already begun.