Sotheby’s To Sell Three Iconic Vintage Rolex Watches from the Collection of Hollywood Stuntman-Turned Race Car Driver Stan Barrett.
This December, Sotheby’s has the distinct honor to offer three vintage Rolex wristwatches from the collection of Stan Barrett – the former boxing champion turned Hollywood stuntman and NASCAR driver – who famously piloted the Budweiser Rocket Car on December 17th, 1979 on his quest to become the first man to travel faster than the speed of sound on land.
Now more than forty years after the monumental drive, the three watches, boasting provenance back to this historic event, will take center stage highlighting Sotheby’s Important Watches auction on 9 December in New York.
The three iconic watches will go on view for the first time in Monterey, California from 17 – 20 August to coincide with RM Sotheby’s flagship Monterey auction, followed by an international tour with stops in Dubai, Hong Kong, Geneva, and Los Angeles. As a stuntman, Stan Barrett worked with many of Hollywood’s leading men in the late 1960s and early 1970s – such as the likes of Burt Reynolds, John Wayne, Dustin Hoffman, and Hal Needham – but it was his deep and enduring friendship with film legend and icon Paul Newman, that defined so much of his life.
While the movies were their occupation – with Barrett hired as Newman’s stunt double for many of the actor’s most famous films, it was their love of cars, racing, and adventure that would glue them together for the duration of their 40-year friendship.
Notably, they also shared a passion for smaller mechanical marvels, with Newman famously known for gifting watches to friends and family. It should then come to no surprise that during Barrett’s endeavor, the two Rolex watches worn on his left wrist (and offered for sale) – a stainless steel GMT-Master ‘Pepsi’ and a stainless steel Reference 6262 Daytona – were gifted to him by none other than his dear friend, Paul Newman. The watches will be offered with an estimate of $50,000 – 100,000 and $300,000 – 500,000, respectively.
The US Air Force’s military scanners estimated that Barrett had traveled at 739.66 MPH, and presented Barrett with a certificate of recognition for breaking the sound barrier on land. After the run, Newman had the case back of the GMT engraved to commemorate his friend’s accomplishment, with the inscription on the back reading “STAN BARRETT 739 MPH MACH 1.0206 12-17-79”.
To further congratulate Barrett on his achievement, Anheuser-Busch CEO, August Busch – whose company was the lead sponsor of the “Project Speed of Sound” event – presented Barrett with a yellow gold GMT Reference 1675 (est. $50,000 – 100,000). This beautiful watch also carries an engraving in his honor that can still clearly be seen today, reading ‘Stan Barrett – Driver – Budweiser Rocket Car 739.66MPH December 17 1979’.
“These three watches – personal gifts between friends and colleagues – carry more historical significance than just their benefactors,” said Jonathon Burford, Sotheby’s Watches Specialist. “Inextricably linked to a feat of human exploration, they represent a slice of American history itself and will no doubt appeal to watch connoisseurs and racing enthusiasts alike.”
Over the course of his action-packed career, Stan Barrett has quietly become a hugely important philanthropist, firstly working with Newman and his Hole in the Wall kids foundation, and in recent years, devoting his time to charitable causes aiding children’s wellbeing. In another nod to his philanthropic efforts, Stan has decided to sell these watches with a portion of the sale’s proceeds to benefit charitable causes.