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.
NEW YORK, December 16, 2019—Fortuna, the NYC-based auction house specializing in fine jewelry and watches, concluded its final auctions for the year, Important Jewels and Important Watches, achieving over $1.8 million in revenue and setting a world record for the iconic Cartier Crash, one of the most unusual and intriguing watches on the market.
Created in 1967, legend has it that the Cartier Crash, which resembles the melting clocks in Salvador Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory,” was inspired by a timepiece recovered from a scorching car wreck. Reissued in 1991 in a limited edition of only 400 pieces, the rare timepiece is quickly achieving cult-status and has been spotted on the wrists of high profile celebrities, such as a style icon and avid watch collector, Kanye West. Yet, veteran collectors were shocked when the Crash flew by its high estimate of $50,000, achieving $81,250 at the boutique NYC auction house.
“The record-breaking price achieved for the Cartier Crash, once again affirms our belief that people should always opt for the auction house that specializes in a particular field,” said Seth Holehouse, Auction and Head of Jewelry & Watches, at Fortuna. “In a market as complex and ever-changing as that of watches and jewelry, it pays to partner with auction houses that are completely tuned in to what the market is willing to offer.”
Sold alongside the Crash was an exceedingly rare Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman” Ref. 6239—the king of vintage sport watches. After the historic sale of Paul Newman’s own Rolex Daytona, which achieved over $17 million in 2018, prices for the ref. 6239 have stabilized at around $100,000–$180,000 across all major auction houses. However, the timepiece achieved a remarkable $200,000 at Fortuna—the strongest price seen globally this year.
In jewelry highlights, a gorgeous Tiffany & Co. Art Deco Diamond and Emerald Bracelet, property of an Arkansas lady, achieved $68,750 against a pre-sale estimate of $35,000–$50,000, while a Retro Van Cleef & Arpels Diamond Bracelet sold for $43,750, surpassing its estimate of $20,000–$30,000—once again confirming the strength in the market for period style jewelry from the major design houses. This December, Fortuna offered an extensive collection of over 400 lots of fine jewelry and watches from private estates and collectors, and achieved a phenomenal sell-through rate of over 71%.
When asked about the trajectory of the jewelry and watch market in the new year, the CEO of Fortuna, John Saxon expressed high hopes for the company. “It’s no secret that the strength of the jewelry and watch market wax and wane with economic cycles, but Fortuna continues to keep their finger on the pulse. Jewelry and watches are all we do, and we are determined to enter 2020 with the ability to achieve the highest possible market prices for our clients, as we have unquestionably proven in our recent December sales.”
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Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona is something of a legend in the watch community. Newman’s iconic wristwatch singlehandedly saved an entire series of Daytona watches, before setting records itself when it sold. In a high-profile auction, the 1968 Oyster Cosmograph Daytona Paul Newman wore over the decades sold for $17.5 million, setting the record for the highest price ever recorded for a wristwatch to date.
Not only is the original watch Newman wore highly valuable, but it has also raised the value of similar models of Daytona watches. As an example, a watch of the same reference number as Newman’s Daytona recently sold for $275,000 at auction.
Who Is Paul Newman & Why Is the “Paul Newman” Daytona So Valuable?
Paul Newman, the famous American actor and philanthropist, starred in classic films like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Color of Money, The Sting and Cool Hand Luke. Many people know him for his movies, but he also put his stamp on history as a professional race car driver and getting a collection of Rolexes to carry his namesake.