Two Rolex Daytonas, once owned by Paul Newman, sold separately for around $1.1 million each at an auction held at Sotheby’s in New York on Friday, June 9th.
Neumann’s former watch ended up in the hands of a bidder who spoke by phone with Sotheby’s watch division vice president and expert Lee Saffer, and the auction house confirmed the sale. It is unclear whether the same bidder won both of the Newman Daytonas.
The Rolex ‘Zenith’ Daytona and the white gold Daytona worn and owned by the legendary Hollywood actor were the highlights of the 134 lot special sale ‘Vital Watches’. Both were estimated to fetch up to $1 million, but the final bid reached $900,000 for the Zenith Daytona and $850,000 for the white gold Daytona. Sales commissions brought the final prices to $1,143,000 and $1,080,000 respectively.
The Rolex “Zenith” Daytona was presented to Neumann after winning the GTS-1 class at the 1995 24 Hours of Daytona. This astounding feat made Neumann, 70, the oldest driver to win a race, a record that still stands in the Guinness World Records. In 1999, famous for his philanthropic work, Neumann received the inscription ‘Rolex at Daytona 24, Paul Newman Rolex Motorsports Man of the Year 1995’ during Antiquorum’s ‘Famous Faces’ sale. decided to put up the watch with At the time, it sold a record $39,000 for Neumann’s charity.
However, Newman was seen wearing it again in the following years, leading to speculation that close family and friends had repurchased it for him. The timepiece held special meaning and sentimental value for Newman, and was not only closely linked to his racing career, but also appealing to car enthusiasts.
Featuring a black dial, the white gold automatic chronograph wristwatch was the only precious metal Daytona Neumann had ever owned. This is his one of only three Daytona watches known to have been gifted to Paul by his wife, actress Joanne Woodward. The engraving on the back reads, “Drive very slowly, Joanne.”The couple co-starred in the 1969 film winwhich marked the beginning of Newman’s successful motorsport career.
Neumann wore the watch during his last lap at Lime Rock Park in Salisbury, Connecticut, in August 2008, one month before he died at the age of 83. Friday’s auction marked the first appearance of the watch on the market.
A stainless steel Daytona Rolex that belonged to Neumann sold at auction at Phillips in October 2017 for $17.8 million. The watch had a white dial, three black subdials, a red outer track, and Woodward’s “DRIVE CAREFULLY ME” engraving on the back.
The two Rolex sales that have just been completed are part of the “The World of Joan Woodward and Paul Newman” auction, which starts May 31st and ends June 13th. The series consists of over 300 individual items. One-off his 1998 Volvo his V90 ‘Volvet’ and his racing suit Newman wore in his 2007 Pro last race and his 2008 final lap.