As a 24 year-old Egyptian, I have no reason knowing who Paul Newman is.
But as a self-proclaimed watch-geek and lover of vintage watches, I have come to know off Paul Newman quite well.
Paul Newman (1925 – 2008), was an Academy Award-winning actor, who later forayed into the world race-car driving and competed in the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans race, finishing second.
In the late 60s, around the start of Paul’s racing career, his wife bought him this watch. She likely bought from Tiffany’s for around $300(!) and had its caseback engraved with a message reading “Drive Carefully Me”, which adds so much charm to the watch that is hard to put into words.
Italian collectors picked up on the this exotic dial configuration and named it the “Paul Newman” dial. Collectors have always known that Paul Newman’s Daytonas resided with members of his immediate family. And they aren’t entirely wrong, as the watch is consigned to Phillips by James Cox, who dated Nell Potts, Paul’s oldest daughter.
As recounted by Michale Clerizo of the Wall Street Journal, the story of how Cox came to own Paul Newman’s PN goes like this: James Cox met Paul Newman when he was 13 years old at a race track in Connecticut. 5 years later, James arrived College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine where he met Nell Potts. He immediately liked her and did his best to try and charm her over the next few days, all the time having had no idea she was Paul Newman’s daughter!
Nell and James soon became a couple and during vacations James would stay at the Newmans’ home in Connecticut. One day, Paul asked James what time it was so that he could set his watch, to which Paul replied “I don’t know—I don’t have a watch.” Being as generous as he’s known to have been Paul replied, “Here, here’s a watch. If you wind it, it tells pretty good time.”
A New World Record (Or Two)?
On May 14th of this year, Phillips sold a legendary watch, the “Bao Dai” 6062 Rolex for a record $5,060,427 thus becoming the most expensive Rolex ever sold at auction. One day later, Phillips sold another watch, a solid gold “Paul Newman” Daytona known as “The Legend”, for $3,717,906, making it the most expensive Daytona ever sold at auction.
Come October, these two records are more likely than not to be held by the same watch. And what a watch it is.
Michael Clerizo’s story on WSJ: https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-paul-newmans-legendary-rolex-cosmograph-daytona-was-foundand-where-its-going-now-1496322396