For many years, images of Paul Newman wearing his signature Rolex Daytona has inspired generations of vintage watch wearers and collectors. The whereabouts of the watch, especially after his passing away in 2008, remained a mystery until very recently. That very timepiece is now going up for auction by Phillips in New York this October.
The Rolex Daytona reference 6239 with exotic dial was given to Newman in the late 1960s by his wife, Joanne Woodward, who bought it for $300 USD. Woodward also added a personal engraving “Drive Carefully – Me” on the case back, as it was during the heydays of Newman’s racing career.
The Daytona is currently owned by James Cox. Cox used to date Newman’s daughter, Nell Potts, and the watch was given to him directly by the legend himself in 1984 after Cox was asked for the time by Newman, and he wasn’t able to answer as didn’t even own a time piece. Newman handed Cox the Rolex and said; “Here, here’s a watch. If you wind it, it tells pretty good time.”
Cox was unaware of the celebrity of his gift and wore it frequently until the mid-1990s. The watch is still in good condition with its original dial despite the many decades of wear. It will be interesting to see how the auction for such a historically-significant timepiece will go. To tie this warm little story up nicely, it has also been announced that a substantial amount of the proceeds will go towards the Nell Newman Foundation charity.