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Newman’s wife, Joanne Woodward, gave him a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona around the time he filmed Winning, a 1969 film where he played the racing-car driver Frank Capua. The role sparked Newman’s interest in racing much to Woodward’s dismay, and the watch she gave him is engraved DRIVE CAREFULLY ME to the caseback.

The Cosmograph Daytona was designed specifically for motorsport and the version Woodward chose, a reference 6239, is fitted with what the brand called an “exotic” dial. It was the first model of the Daytona series which was produced from 1963 – 70 and features the firm’s first chronograph with a tachymeter scale engraved on the bezel to measure speed.

In the 1980s the actor was pictured wearing the watch frequently and these Rolexes with their exotic dials became known as ‘Paul Newman’ Daytonas. Though Newman owned several different Daytona models during his career, the one with the exotic dial was the earliest of the models that he wore. 

Fresh to the market

This original example is now being offered at Phillips during its inaugural New York watch auction Winning Icons: Legendary Watches of the 20th Century held in association with Bacs & Russo on October 26.

Newman gave the watch to a former boyfriend of his daughter who has looked after the watch since 1984. A portion of proceeds from the sale will go to the Nell Newman Foundation.

Daytonas are much sought-after even without such provenance. The current record for a comparable example was set at Phillips in May when an 18ct yellow gold ‘Paul Newman’ reference 6263 took $3.72m including buyer’s premium.

This version is estimated to take in excess of $1m.