Even though four years have passed since it was auctioned, we’ll be looking at a watch that is still on everybody’s minds. We’re talking about one of the most important watches ever, a watch whose owner gave his name to the model and a watch that retains pole position as one of the most expensive wristwatches ever sold – and the most expensive Rolex ever. We are, of course, talking about Paul Newman’s Paul Newman Rolex Daytona, a watch sold for USD 17,752,500 under the hammer of Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo. And while the watch still generates discussion as to the identity of its owner, it made its first public appearance yesterday, as reported by Nick Gould (@niccoloy) after Victoria Gomelsky (@vikavickyvictoria), Editor of JCKMagazine and contributor to the International NY Times, posted a photo of the watch on Instagram.
There are two things that are important to note about Victoria Gomelsky’s post. It marks the first time that Paul Newman’s own Rolex Daytona 6239 “Paul Newman” exotic dial is publicly showcased. According to the descriptive note next to the display window, the watch was “made available thanks to the support of Rolex” and is the first time it has been spotted after it was auctioned by Phillips in 2017, when it made history (back then) as the most expensive wristwatch ever sold (it was outdone by the Steel Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime, which sold for CHF 31 Million during the Only Watch auction of 2019). It does, however, still hold the record as the most expensive Rolex. Paul Newman’s Paul Newman Rolex Daytona was exhibited at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, alongside multiple other cinema-related items showcased during a formal dinner.
The second noticeable element in this photo is the “Private Collection” inscription on the descriptive note. While it doesn’t give a clear answer to the identity of the owner of the watch, it could end up provoking a discussion of whether Rolex acquired the watch as part of its own collection. I say “could” because it might just be a deliberate ambiguity on behalf of the owner or the brand. So, to make it short, all we know is that we know nothing. Except that it is very pleasant to see this important piece of watchmaking history exposed (almost) in the wild.