Few watches are as iconic as the Rolex Daytona – think at least £10,000, with prices rising to hundreds of thousands of pounds for the most coveted of all, a Paul Newman Daytona, a series of limited edition watches made as a tribute to the Hollywood Great, whose association with the brand stretches back decades. So what made competing bidders fight it out to $18 million (£13.6 million) for a Daytona in New York on October 26?
In short, the personal touch. This was the watch that Newman’s wife, Joanne Woodward, bought for him in 1969, during filming for Winning, in which he played an obsessive racing driver with Woodward as his onscreen wife.
The film gave Newman a taste for racing and he went on to take part in the Le Mans 24-hour race.
Newman had been injured in a motorcycle accident four years earlier and so Woodward had had the stainless steel watch inscribed Drive Carefully, Me.
When she bought him another new watch in 1984, Newman handed the Daytona Rolex to his daughter’s then boyfriend, who put it up for sale last month, with some of the proceeds heading for the Nell Newman Foundation, set up by Neman’s daughter.
A Hollywood idol, admired by men and loved by women; association with an iconic 1960s film linked to motor racing; a gift from a famous actress to her even more famous husband; and finally, an iconic brand in itself.
Auction consignments like this are once in a lifetime.