Paul Newman's Legendary Daytona Rolex Becomes the Most Expensive Watch Sold in the World - For $17.8 Million

Photo from Phillips
Paul Newman (January 26, 1925 - September 26, 2008) was one of the worlds most iconic actors famous for his long legendary history of Hollywood movie masterpieces including The Color of Money (1986), The Hustler (1961), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), and The Sting (1982).  He has acted alongside some of the greatest actors in history including his wife Joanne Woodward, Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Robert Redford, and Elizabeth Taylor.

The younger generation may remember his voice recordings in Cars as Doc Hudson.  He has won an Emmy, an Academy Award, a BAFTA, a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Cannes Film Festival Award. 
Newman with his Daytona Rolex.  Photo Credit: Ron Galella via Getty Images

Paul Newman won several national championships as a driver in Sports Car Club of America road racing.  He owned several winning teams in open-wheel IndyCar racing as well.  His teams have employed the services of Al Unser and Mario Andretti, and have won 8 national titles and 108 individual victories.  He had a 2nd place finish at the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans, and a first place finish (at age 70) at the 1995 24 Hours of Daytona race. 

Paul Newman competed into his 80's winning a race at Lime Rock and was inducted into the Sports Car Club of America auto racing Hall of Fame, posthumously in 2009. Paul Newman once said, "The only thing I found grace in was racing a car."

His legendary acting career may only be surpassed by his philanthropic activity.  He created Newman's Own, a food company which donates all post-tax profits and royalties to charity.  Thus far, Newman's Own has donated nearly $500 million to charitable causes. 

Newman co-founded Safe Water Network which focuses on sustainable drinking water solutions, and he founded Serious Fun Children's Network which creates family fun summer camps for children with serious illness.  It has served nearly 300,000 children since inception. Newman was named the Most Generous Celebrity of 2008 by
Photo from

The "Paul Newman" Daytona, reference 6263 was a gift from his wife Joanne Woodward during the filming of the movie "Winning" and was worn every day by the Actor between 1969 and 1984.  It was engraved with "Drive Carefully Me," and remained his loyal companion  until he gifted the priceless timepiece to James Cox, a boyfriend of his first daughter Elinor Newman.  James was visiting with Nell and the Newmans at the family house in Westport Connecticut, known as the "Nook House." 
Engraved with "Drive Carefully Me" Photo from

James was working to restore the tree house on the property as a favor to his famous hosts - the tree house was a favorite aspect of the property by Paul and Joanne.  One day while checking up on James' progress, Paul Newman, having forgotten to wind his wristwatch that morning, asked James if he knew the time.  James responded that he didn't and that he didn't own a watch.  Paul handed James his Rolex and said, "If you can remember to wind this each day, it tells pretty good time."  This was clearly an understatement, as Newman won several bets over the years betting his Rolex told better time than other competitors.

Interestingly, the Exotic Dials of the Paul Newman Rolex Daytona was not popular when they came out.  Rolex, therefore, didn't manufacture many of these.  However the value of these dial designs have steadily risen over the years.  The Reference 6239 is powered by the Rolex caliber Valjoux 722 and has a steel bezel with screw down crown, 2 pump pushers and a non-Oyster case.  It has 17 jewels, and 3 dials and a tachymetric scale allowing race car drivers to measure average speeds up to 200 miles per hour.  It has a black dial and a 36 mm case. It has a small seconds hand, a 30 minute counter at the right (3 o'clock), a 12 hour counter in the middle (6 o'clock). and a 60 second timer at the left (9 o'clock).  This differs greatly from modern Daytona's which now can support up to 400 miles per hour average speed measurements. 

The auction for the Paul Newman Rolex Daytona took place at Phillips Auction House in New York.  Bidding started at 1 million, but that quickly went to $10 million, surpassing the $5 million Rolex Bao Dai price fetched only 6 months before.   The price rose steadily from there finally fetching a record breaking $17.8 million.  Proceeds went to benefit the Nell Newman Foundation and the Newman's Own Foundation.

5 Legendary Rolex Watches

Rolex Stelline Ref 6062  Photo from

The Rolex Stelline Ref 6062 represents one of the finest achievements of the Rolex production history. It is one of the only models (along with the 8171) that combines a full calendar with the phases of the moon. 

The yellow gold 36 mm Oyster case and the triple calendar with star-set numerals is spectacular--rich with complexity and yet fine simplicity. It takes its “Stelline” nickname from the Italian word for starlet – paying homage to the stars in the dial. The Reference 6062 was manufactured for 3 years in the 1950’s and was available in stainless steel, yellow gold and pink gold. Pink gold is the rarest model of the three. 

This is one of my favorite Rolex watches for it its simple beauty and luxury. It sold recently for approx. $665,000.

Rolex Reference 4062  Photo from Christies

The Rolex Reference 4062 is a rare stainless steel and pink gold chronograph with pink dial, tear-drop lugs and originally came with a rice-grain bracelet. This Rolex comes with 18K gold and a coin-edge band. It was manufactured in between 1942 and 1963 and came in yellow gold, yellow gold, stainless steel and a mix of stainless steel and gold. It was created with a 36 mm diameter. 

It is valued at over $100,000 at auction. 

It is a complex piece with 17 jewels, silvered dial, applied baton and dagger numerals, outer blue telemetre and black tachymetre scales.

It has a coin-edge band, downturned lugs, two chronograph buttons and an 18k gold Rolex buckle. It has two dials for seconds and a 30 minutes register. This is a spectacular timepiece that has a beauty to be worn anytime, anywhere – at work or at play. 
The Reference 8171: Photo From
The Reference 8171 is known as the "Padellone" (Italian for large frying pan). This rare stainless steel wristwatch has a triple calendar with moonphases. This watch is highly sought after and recently sold at auction for over $1 million. This is only one of two Rolex models that indicate the day of the week, the month and the phases of the moon.

The Oyster case has a large 38mm diameter. This model was available in yellow gold, pink gold and stainless steel, and was manufactured in the early 1950’s. It has an exquisite expandable Gay Frères Oyster-style bracelet. The 8171 has a silver dial and silver-colored hour markers, with an Arabic numeral 12. It is surrounded by the date ring with blue colored numbers ranging from 1 to 31, all in the typical Rolex font. The needle-shaped date hand has a matching blue arrow shaped tip and silver arrow body. The hour and minute hand are silver in the classic French leaf design.
Reference 6263 Oyster Cosmograph UAE Desert Eagle   Photo from NikolaosPaliousis

The Reference 6263 Oyster Cosmograph UAE Desert Eagle is a rare stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with the UAE Coat of Arms on the dial. It was originally made for Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and has an approx. value of $220,000. Sheikh Mohammed was born on July 15 1949 and is the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and ruler of the Emirate of Dubai.[3]

He ascended to the throne in 2006 and is directly responsible for growing Dubai into a global city. He has high hopes, with a vision to make UAE one of the greatest countries in the world. He has a diverse set of holdings including Emirates Airline, DP world and the Jumeirah Group. He is also personally overseen the development of many Dubai projects including the Palm Islands, Buri Al Arab hotel and the construction of Buri Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.

Sheik Muhammed is a well-recognized poet and equestrian. He has exceptional taste and this has extended to his taste in Rolex timepieces. The Rolex Daytona 6263 is a stunning achievement, primarily produced between 1971 and 1987. This Daytona is missing the Daytona Red symbol on the dial. It has a 37 mm diameter and is 13 mm thick.

Subsidiary Dials - Three engine-turned subsidiary dials display constant seconds, 30 minutes, and 12 hour registers on the bottom half of the dial. The 6263 has a water resistant case with a screw back, screw down crown, and two round screw down chronograph buttons, or “pushers,” in the band. It has a caliber 727 mechanical movement, 17 jewels. It is available in stainless steel and gold. It has a crystal crown with a Sigma dial. This is a watch that you can wear daily, but has the features a high end collector would want.

Rolex Jean-Claude Killy Reference 6036.  Photo from
The Reference 6036 is nicknamed the “Jean-Claude Killy,” named after the two-time skiing World Cup “Triple Crown” alpine skiing winner in 1968 at Grenoble, France. He was only 25 when he won gold in the slalom, giant slalom, and downhill events. Killy became an actor and famously married French actress and pin-up model Danielle Gaubert. Killy became a poster boy for Rolex for many years. His namesake timepiece was manufactured from 1940 to 1960.

The Reference 6036 Killy Rolex is a manually wound, triple-date calendar Dato-Compax chronograph with sunken gold markers. At a mere 36 millimeters, it will fit nicely on a smaller wrist. It is manufactured in Pink Gold and in Steel. A 6036 recently sold for over $350k.

The Bao Dai Rolex 6062 Becomes the 2nd Most Expensive Rolex Ever Sold at Auction for $5,060,427

Source: Hodinkee

Fifteen years ago, the Bao Dai Rolex Watch sold at auction on November of 2002 for $235,000, at the time making it the most expensive Rolex watch sold at auction. 

The new price of $5,060,427 fetched on May 14, 2017 (both sold at Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg) is a 21.5 times increase, or a 140 percent return on your investment annually for 15 years.  Not too shabby. In May this made the Bao Dai the most expensive Rolex sold in the world.  However, only a few months later, in October, the Paul Newman Daytona Rolex would soundly beat the Bao Dai and fetch a price of 17.8 million at auction at more than 3 times the price - making it the most expensive watch sold in the world.  See my post on the Paul Newman.  

However, the Bao Dai held the title as the most expensive Rolex for 5 long months, setting the stage for incredible prices to be fetched in the future for Rolex Watches owned by famous personalities.
So, what makes the Bao Dai so special?
Besides being one of the most luxurious and rare Rolex timepieces in history (one of only three 6062s ever made), the Bao Dai Rolex has a unique history, tied to the man who first purchased the watch. 
It was the Spring of 1954 in Geneva Switzerland.  The Vietnamese Emperor, Nguyễn Phúc Vĩnh Thụy, was negotiating the terms of the end of his reign and the future of the realm of Vietnam.  The Indochina War was coming to an end, as was the Nguyễn Dynasty. 
Source: Wikipedia
Nguyễn was the 13th and soon to be last emperor of the combined state of Vietnam.  He had ascended the Emperor’s throne in 1925 at the age of 12 and was given the title of Bao Dai – a title that translates as “Protector of Grandeur” or “Keeper of Greatness”.

Nguyễn was educated in France, and spent most of his life in France after his exile.  Bao Dai served as head of state under both French and American occupation.  He fought to keep Vietnam unified and was known as a reformer, both of institutions such as legal and education, but also of outdated traditions.
Bao Dai’s taste was impeccable.  He owned a rare Ferrari 375 MM Spyder, a private yacht, and a superb French villa.

He entered the famed Rolex retailer Chronomètrie Philippe Beguin and requested the most precious Rolex ever made.
Bao Dai turned down many rare timepieces before Rolex came to the rescue, finally displaying the Rolex reference 6062 in yellow gold with a black dial and diamond indexes.  This fine timepiece took on his name Bao Dai and will always be associated with the Last Emperor of Vietnam.

The Rolex 6062 is made of yellow gold and is one of only three models featuring black dials set with diamond markers.  It has other unique features, adding to its rarity.  It has five diamond numerals for even numbers and a different dial layout. 
Because of the diamond numeral at 12 o'clock, the Rolex crown was moved down, consequently forcing the "Rolex Oyster Perpetual"  to be placed below the day and month apertures. The "Officially Certified Chronometer" wording was moved from the center of the dial and placed below the moonphase dial.

The Bao Dai Rolex’s value is highly desirable due to its historical importance and ties to regal fame, but also to its iconic Rolex features including the Oyster case, a Rolex "perpetual" in-house movement and of course the rare full calendar complication featuring a moonphase display. 
This Rolex watch is also in fantastic shape, with no noticible wear marks or imperfections.  The yellow gold Rolex Jubilee bracelet adds to the effect of the watch, while not overly large, it is comfortable to wear. 

Truly a Rolex fit for a king.

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