Paul Newman’s “Paul Newman” Daytona Finally Found

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There are grails, and then there are GRAILS. The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that Paul Newman’s “Paul Newman” Daytona—which many would, without hesitation, call the holy grail of watch collecting—has not only been found, but will be auctioned off by Phillips in New York City later this year. Now, I’ll conceded right away that this is not something we normally cover—auctions aren’t really our thing here on worn&wound. But all that aside, this is undeniably cool.

For as long as people have been collecting vintage watches, they’ve also been asking and speculating about Paul Newman’s personal Daytona. It’s the watch. The one that most collectors—even those without the means to actually buy it if it ever surfaced for auction—covet, and it wouldn’t be unfair to say that it’s at least semi-responsible for the hype around the vintage watch boom.

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Speaking for myself, the fact that the watch is tied to Paul Newman—who was as much a committed activist and philanthropist as he was a talented and prolific actor—makes any watch that he wore, by association, badass. The fact that the “Paul Newman” Daytona ref. 6239 is, on its own, a stellar timepiece is simply icing on the cake.


A quick aside: In my previous life, I once spoke to a gentleman who worked with Paul Newman for many years, and who claimed to have been given a watch by Paul Newman to commemorate their partnership. He said it was a Rolex, though he was unsure of the reference. The watch was stolen in a burglary, so its fate is up in the air, but it was a cool (and frankly, unsurprising) story to hear.Read this excellent obituary  from the New York Times.


 

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The watch was given to James Cox by Newman in 1984. As Cox tells it, he was dating Newman’s daughter, Nell Potts, at the time, so he spent vacations with the Newman family in their home in Westport, Connecticut. One day, Newman asked Cox for the time, to which the latter replied, “I don’t know—I don’t have a watch.” So Paul Newman did what many of us would naturally do—or not. He handed Cox his Daytona and said, “Here, here’s a watch. If you wind it, it tells pretty good time.”

Decades before, Newman was gifted the watch by his wife, Joanne Woodward, around the start of his racing career. His daughter recalls, “Dad’s biggest interest was whether or not he could time laps on it when the cars were running.” One of my favorite details on the watch is found on the case back—an engraving that reads, “DRIVE CAREFULLY ME.” I’ll be damned if this doesn’t spawn some copycats.

All in all, this is a pretty important find, even if this isn’t really your cup of tea. I’ll be looking forward to seeing how much this bit of history sells for, just out of sheer curiosity. Oh, and in keeping with Mr. Newman’s generous streak, a significant portion of the proceeds will go to the Nell Newman Foundation.


Images courtsey of the Wall Street Journal. For the full story, click here.

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Ilya is worn&wound’s Managing Editor and Video Producer. He believes that when it comes to watches, quality, simplicity and functionality are king. This may very well explain his love for German and military-inspired watches. In addition to watches, Ilya brings an encyclopedic knowledge of leather, denim and all things related to menswear.

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  • Mikita

    Funny how people are speculating today on these Daytonas – on the one side, and how Paul Newman simply gifted the now iconic watch like here you go it tells time when you wind it 🙂

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