Details to Look for in Paul Newman Daytonas, From Dials to Typography

Rolex Paul Newman Daytona watch is one of the most coveted and desirable watches among vintage watch collectors. It continues to rise in price due to its scare supply and commands high prices when they are offered at auctions.

Two pieces of Paul Newman Daytona will be up for auction this month in Geneva and Hong Kong, respectively estimated at CHF300,000-500,000 (US$302,313-503,855) and HK$1.75m-3.2m (US$224,306-410,160). What’s so special about Paul Newman Daytona? And what’s the reason for the price difference in different Paul Newman Daytonas?  

Adam Levin and Ed Sheeran also own a Paul Newman Daytona (ref. 6241)

The above Paul Newman Daytona Ref. 6263 will be sold in Hong Kong


The above Paul Newman Daytona Ref. 6263 Mk1 will be sold in Geneva

Introduced in 1963, Rolex’s Cosmograph Daytona was designed to meet the demands of professional racing drivers. It was made of stainless steel, featuring three sub-dials. From 1963 to 2013, Rolex has introduced three distinct series. The original series, with a four-digit reference number, produced in small quantities from 1963 to the later 1980s.

The well-known Rolex Paul Newman Daytona were included in the first series. After the introduction of Rolex’s Cosmograph Daytona in 1963, Rolex launched a special edition, Cosmograph ‘Exotic Dials’. These two watches are basically identical mechanically and the only difference is the dial. The Exotic Dial features ‘square’ hash markers on the sub-dials.

Exotic dials didn’t sell well before it was worn by Paul Newman

Paul Newman was often seen wearing the Rolex Daytona

Exotic dials didn’t sell well before it was worn by Paul Newman. Rolex therefore only produced a limited amount of them. Defined by the rarity of the watch and the association with the legendary Paul Newman, Rolex “Paul Newman” Daytona is now one of the world’s most sought-after watches of all time.

The Cosmograph ‘Exotic Dials’ is dubbed the 'Paul Newman' Daytona due to its close relation with the actor, even though Paul Newman was not an ambassdor for Rolex. Paul Newman received the watch (ref.6239) as a gift from his wife, Joanna Woodward, in 1968. The watch was seen on Paul Newman’s wrist in hundreds of published photographs. Newman wore the watch every day for 15 years until he gave it to James Cox, Newman’s daughter then-boyfriend in 1984.

The sub-dials of a Paul Newman Daytona have ‘square’ hash markers instead of plain lines

Though being very subtle, there are some distinctive features in a Paul Newman Daytona. It must be in an original series watch with a four-digit reference number. All of the original series had acrylic domed crystals. The sub-dials have ‘square’ hash markers instead of plain lines.

If you want to get your hands on Paul Newman Daytona, there are two timepieces coming up at auction this month. They are both reference 6263, the final evolution of the manually wound Daytona Cosmograph. It differentiates itself from previous iterations mainly by using the calibre 727, instead of calibres 72B, 722 and 722-1 which were found in earlier references. The word “Oyster” is added between “Rolex” and “Cosmograph” indicating the upgraded water proof ability by introducing screw pushers.

It differentiates itself from previous iterations mainly by using the calibre 727

The "Panda" Paul Newman dial is distinguished by black subsidiary dials on a white background, and an absolute lack of any other colours: there is no red Daytona designation, and the fifth of a second divisions are white instead of red.

They are respectively estimated at CHF300,000-500,000 (US$302,313-503,855) and HK$1.75m-3.2m (US$224,306-410,160). The one offered at Geneva carries a higher estimate due to its very rare Mk1 dial.  

Paul Newman "Panda" dials with Mk 1 script (right)

Paul Newman "Panda" dials with Mk 1 script are amongst the rarest gems in the world of vintage watch collecting and are set apart from their contemporaries. The Mk 1 dials were originally intended for the reference 6240 and can therefore only be found on the early production of references 6263 and 6265. The Mk 1 is distinguishable by the very different font type for the “R” of Rolex which is wider and “fatter”, the “G” in COSMOGRAPH has a serif and shorter inward return and the “H” is more pronouncedly asymmetric.

The present auction record for the most expensive watch also goes to a Paul Newman Daytona. It is no ordinary Paul Newman Daytona because it is the very one that started the all whole frenzy, the one that worn by the legendary actor Paul Newman. It was sold for a record-shattering US$17.75m after premium last October.

The Paul Newman Daytona owned by Paul Newman

The watch was engraved “Drive Carefully Me” on the case back

Auction details

Rolex Ref. 6263 - Cosmograph Daytona ‘Paul Newman’

Lot no.: 2515
Ref: 6263
Created in: 1969
Estimate: HK$1,750,000 - 3,200,000

Auction house: Christie’s Hong Kong
Sale: Important Watches
23 November 2018|10:30am - 8pm
24 - 25 November 2018|10:30am - 6:30pm
Auction date: 2018/11/26 | 12:00pm (lot 2201-2515)

Rolex Ref. 6263 - Cosmograph Daytona ‘Paul Newman’ MK1

Lot no.: 154
Ref: 6263
Created in: 1969
Estimate: CHF 300,000 - 500,000

Auction house: Christie’s Geneva
Sale: Important Watches
9-11 November 2018|10am - 6pm
Auction date:
12 November 2018| 10:30am (Lot 1-112)
12 November 2018 | 2:30pm (lot 113-234)