What is a Paul Newman Daytona?

April 29, 2016

Paul Newman was an American movie star and professional race car driver known for his roles in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Color of Money, for which he won an Academy Award in 1986. He began his racing career in 1972 on the Thompson International Speedway in Thompson, Connecticut. 

Rolex Daytona with Paul Newman Dial (photo: ©Rolex/Jean-Daniel Meyer)
Newman married actress and costar in the film 'The Long, Hot Summer' Joanne Woodward in 1958. It is speculated that she gifted him with his Rolex Daytona when he took up auto racing in the early 1970s.

What people refer to as a 'Paul Newman Daytona' is a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona model that was fitted with a unique dial by the watchmaker on a limited number of models. The reason there are so few of them is that they were not popular when they hit the market. They became popular decades after their release, with the help of Newman acting as an unofficial ambassador of the rare chronographs.

There are a few different dial configurations for what collectors consider Paul Newman Daytonas. The model shown above features an inverted color scheme, with a white dial and black sub-dials. The seconds sub-dial has different markings than the original Daytona, with numbers 15, 30, 45 and 60, displayed instead of the customary 20, 40 and 60.

The reason for the inverted colors is to improve visibility while keeping time during a race. This dial features a seconds track printed on the dial in a contrasting black ring, making it easier to use the chronograph functions at high speeds.

In November of 2013, a Paul Newman Daytona sold for a record $1.1 Million at a Christie's auction in Geneva, Switzerland. The buyer chose to remain anonymous.


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