Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona just became the most expensive watch ever sold at auction

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Phillips

  • Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona has been sold for $17.8 million, breaking the record for the most expensive watch ever sold at auction. 
  • It has taken the crown from a 1518 Patek Philip in steel that was sold in 2016 for $11 million. 
  • It was bought by an anonymous telephone bidder and took just 12 minutes to sell.

Paul Newman’s very own Paul Newman Rolex Daytona went up for auction at Phillips Auction House in New York on Thursday and sold for a record-breaking $17.8 million (£13.6 million).

When the Paul Newman lot came up, the bidding was opened at $1 million, but a telephone bidder immediately placed a bid of $10 million, stunning the room into silence.

It was one of the most intense auction sales ever seen in vintage watch collectors’ circles. 

Phillips

The bids then went back and forth between two telephone bidders and the timepiece was finally sold for $17.8 million — including buyer’s premium. This makes it $6 million more expensive than the previous most expensive watch ever sold at auction.

It also breaks the record for the most expensive Rolex ever sold at auction, which was previously held by the Rolex Bao Dai which sold for $5 million back in May. 

courtesy Douglas Kirkland/ Corbis Via Getty Images

Aurel Bacs, the Senior Consultant, Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo has dubbed the watch the “‘Adam and Eve’ of the watch collecting world.”  

The reason this watch is worth so much to collectors is the story and history behind it, as it’s not made out of any precious metal and it is not the most complex watch in the world either. 

It was given to Newman by his wife Joanne Woodward while he was filming “Winning”, he then gave it to his daughter’s then-boyfriend James Cox with the famous quote “if you wind it up it keeps pretty good time.” 

After that, the trail of the watch goes cold until Cox brought it to Phillips to auction with a portion of the proceeds going to benefit the Nell Newman Foundation and Newman’s Own Foundation. 

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