Sotheby’s is set to host an auction featuring two Rolex Daytona watches owned by the late Hollywood legend, Paul Newman.
The Important Watches auction is scheduled for June 9 in New York and will include the reference 16520 and the reference 116519.
The former was presented to Newman after winning the GTS-1 class at the 1995 24 Hours of Daytona Race, and the latter was the last Daytona ever gifted to Newman by his wife, Joanne Woodward. The watches will be on tour with exhibitions scheduled in Los Angeles and Geneva before the auction.
Rolex Daytona and Paul Newman
The Rolex Daytona has a long-standing connection with the world of motorsports. It wasn’t until Paul Newman acquired his first Daytona during the filming of ‘Winning’ (1969) that the model’s popularity took off.
Newman’s passion for auto racing continued throughout his life, and he was known to have a particular affinity with the Daytona. He used the watch as a precision instrument to time laps around the track, and it became an unofficial part of his racing uniform.
Today, the history of the Daytona watch is inextricable from the Hollywood star, who is also known as the greatest unofficial ambassador Rolex ever had, whose endorsement was essential to the model’s universal success.
Reference 16520 ‘Zenith’ Daytona
The reference 16520 ‘Zenith’ Daytona, a stainless steel automatic chronograph wristwatch with bracelet, was presented to Newman in 1995 after winning the GTS-1 class at the 24 Hours of Daytona Race. It is estimated to fetch $500,000 to $1 million at the upcoming auction.
Newman later auctioned the watch in 1999 during Antiquorum’s ‘Famous Faces’ sale for $39,000 to benefit his charity, The Hole in the Wall Gang, which provides medically supervised summer camps and programs free of charge to children with serious illnesses.
Despite the record sale, Newman was seen wearing the watch again years later, leading many to believe that one of his loved ones had purchased it back for him.
Rolex Reference 116519 Daytona
The white gold automatic chronograph wristwatch with a black dial and inscribed with the message “Drive Very Slowly Joanne” on the case back is estimated to fetch between $500,000 to $1 million at the auction.
The watch is the only precious metal Daytona ever owned by Paul Newman and one of only three known Daytona watches gifted to him by Joanne. Newman wore the watch during the most important moments of his final years, including his final laps at Lime Rock Park on August 13, 2008, where he drove his 700 horsepower GT1 Corvette.
The auction will mark the very first time the watch will be offered on the market and is the last Daytona Joanne ever presented to Paul.
The appearance of the two historic Rolex Daytona watches owned by Paul Newman at the Sotheby’s auction is a significant event for watch collectors and fans of the Hollywood legend.
The watches bear witness to Newman’s remarkable racing career and his deep passion for the sport. They also narrate the everlasting love he shared with his wife, Joanne Woodward.
Their sentimental and historical value will undoubtedly make them one of the most coveted and highly prized watches in the world.