Watches - Feature Article

Paul Newman Rolex Daytona is the New Most Expensive Watch Ever Sold

World record watch sale price of $17.8 million at the Phillips inaugural New York auction.

It has surpassed everyone’s predictions. Paul Newman’s actual Daytona, which was discovered earlier this year when Newman’s daughter’s ex-boyfriend finally stepped forward, has smashed the world record at just over £13.5 million.

It was being hailed the Mona Lisa of the watch world. Rolex Daytona models similar to those that Paul Newman used to wear are known as the “Paul Newman Daytona” and they typically sell for between £50-£100,000, but his actual watch had been missing for decades. As we detailed earlier this week, Newman had gifted the watch, which is inscribed on the back with a message from his wife “Drive Carefully Me”, to his daughter Nell’s ex-boyfriend James Cox, but Cox was unaware of the aura around it until he was approached by a Japanese watch fan in the nineties.

Paul Newman Daytona Most Expensive Watch Ever Sold

Over recent years, as prices for similar watch models started to reach the stratosphere, Cox decided it was time to cash in and donate a considerable portion of the funds to the Nell Newman Foundation, which has an environmental focus. Experts were predicting anything up to £10 million, which would have just nudged it ahead of the stainless steel Patek Philippe 1518 which sold for $11,136,642 at a Phillips Bacs & Russo auction in Geneva in November last year, but few would have imagined nearly $18 million, especially considering the watch would originally have sold for around $250.

But after a 12-minute bidding contest, the reference 6239 Daytona with its exotic dial sold to an anonymous phone bidder. Despite the internet desperately trying to seek the identity of the happy winner, it’s unlikely the identity will be revealed anytime soon.

For more information on the sale visit Phillips, or for more on vintage Rolex watches, explore Xupes magazine. You can also find our full range of pre-owned Rolex Daytona watches online at Xupes.