More than 300 of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward’s personal belongings will hit Sotheby’s auctions on June 9th as the auction house celebrates “The World of Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman”. The auction will host everything from autographed scripts, awards, props and wardrobe to racing memorabilia such as suits, helmets, championship rings, medals and awards from the Newman/Haas racing team.
Of course, a couple of very special Paul Newman Daytona Rolex watches will join the auction, including the only precious metal Rolex Daytona ever owned by Newman.
Will this auction eclipse the jaw-dropping $17.7 million price paid for a 1968 ref. 6239 back in 2017? Likely not, but it might make it onto our list of the most expensive watches ever sold. The timing is certainly right, as Michael Jordan’s 1998 NBA Finals ‘The Last Dance’ Game Worn and Signed Air Jordan XIIIs became the most expensive sneakers ever sold when the hammer sounded at USD$2.2 million last week.
RELATED: New Rolex Watches for 2023 Revealed.
1. 1993 ‘Zenith’ Paul Newman Rolex Daytona
The first Paul Newman Daytona up for auction as part of the “World of Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman” collection is this stunning ‘Zenith’ piece with ref. 16520 and an engraved case back.
Here, the watch spells out “Rolex at Daytona 24 Paul Newman Rolex Motorsports Man of the Year 1995,” a proud note for Newman who’d been an integral piece of the brand’s history up until this point. He was given this watch after his racing team won the TS-1 class at the 1995 24 Hours of Daytona Race.
According to Sotheby’s, the serial number S’498’728 dates the watch to 1993, which is consistent with other watches presented that year to other winners of Rolex 24hr.
In a strange (but fantastic) turn of historical provenance, this is actually the second time the watch has made its way to auction. Newman auctioned the watch off for charity in collaboration with Tourneau back on February 24, 1999, where it sold for USD$39,000 to benefit his charity, Hole in the Wall Gang. He (or his wife) bought the watch back years later, as he was known to do.
2. 2006 ‘Drive Very Slowly’ Paul Newman Rolex Daytona
The second Paul Newman Daytona to join the auction is this “Drive Very Slowly” piece given to Newman by his wife Joanne. Importantly, this is confirmed to be the one and only precious metal Daytona ever owned by Newman. Making it a very significant (and expensive) watch.
Furthermore, the ref. 116519 Rolex is 1-of-3 Daytonas gifted by his wife with an inscription directly related to driving.
We’re fans of the phrase on the case back, reminding Paul to keep his hands at 10 and 2 (in true racing fashion), while the age of the watch (2006) lets us know that Newman only had a few years to wear the sentimental piece before his passing.
He’d make good use of it, as he wore the watch during his historic last racing laps at Lime Rock Park on August 13, 2008, pictured below.
“There is a bit of Hollywood magic that stirs in our minds when we picture a movie star turned race car driver, speeding around a track with a love letter hidden from plain sight tucked behind his wristwatch,” said Leigh Safar, a watch specialist at Sotheby’s Americas. And we look forward to watching the prospective buyers battle it out when the watches hit Sotheby’s on June 9th, 2023.
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