The watch itself is something of a known quantity, but that doesn’t make it any less awesome. This is a Swiss luxury fake Rolex Daytona Ref. 6263 “Big Red” and it was given to Paul Newman in 1983 by his wife Joanne Woodward as a 25th-anniversary present. The caseback is engraved “Drive slowly / Joanne” (though it’s a relatively shallow engraving, making it difficult to clearly photograph, as you’ll see below).
The story goes that receiving this watch is what made Newman comfortable giving the legendary Paul Newman Daytona to James Cox a year later in 1984. If you feel like you’ve seen the watch before, that’s because you probably have: It appeared in Matt Hranek’s 2017 book A Man And His Watch, and the photographs appeared in the very first volume of the HODINKEE magazine too. Newman can also be seen wearing it in countless photographs from the mid-’80s on (almost always with the pushers unscrewed), so you’ve likely seen it on his wrist before too.
The funny thing here is that this watch introduces a problem of nomenclature when it comes to writing about it: It’s Paul Newman’s Daytona but it’s NOT a Paul Newman Daytona. Nobody ever said watch collecting was simple.
Since the Paul Newman Rolex Daytona replica with steel case sold for a record $17.75 million at Phillips in October 2017, making it the most expensive wristwatch in the world at the time, people have been speculating about if and when this watch would hit the block. Everyone knew exactly where it was, who had it, and that it had plenty of sentimental value. With that in mind, it’s a bit of a surprise to see the Newman family parting with it, but they are doing so to support a number of charities founded by Paul Newman himself, including SeriousFun, Children’s Network, and Safe Water Network. The watch is being consigned by Newman’s daughter Clea, who received the watch from her father in 2008, shortly before his death. Phillips says that Clea’s sisters are supportive of the sale.
The estimate for this Swiss movement copy Rolex watch is the expected but not super helpful “in excess of one million dollars.” That’s similar to what Phillips said ahead of selling the Paul Newman Daytona back in 2017, but this is a very different situation. Let me make that clear, in case you missed it the first time: This watch isn’t going to sell for anywhere near $17.75 million, and we should pull the brakes on that hype train before it leaves the station. This is an incredible watch and one with fantastic provenance, but I think it’s more in line with something like the Brando GMT than the other Paul Newman watch. My best guess is that the hammer will fall with the bidding in the millions (yes, plural) and that the sale will be about as exciting as a digitally broadcast auction can be.