The Truth About Newman’s Own Rolex Daytona

 IMAGE CREDIT: Stephane (@leica on Instagram)

IMAGE CREDIT: Stephane (@leica on Instagram)

At 15 years old, in 2014, I discovered Paul Newman’s iconic Rolex Daytona--the watch expected to realize $10 million or more at Phillip’s approaching Thursday auction—at a Connecticut watch shop on the most perfect New England spring day.

 "DRIVE CAREFULLY ME"/IMAGE CREDIT: Stephane (@leica on Instagram)

"DRIVE CAREFULLY ME"/IMAGE CREDIT: Stephane (@leica on Instagram)

In my early teens, I would spend my weekends searching for antique and watch shops in upstate New York and Connecticut; I could never have anticipated that I would one day meet Nell Newman wearing her father’s treasured “exotic dial” Rolex Daytona, reference 6239. I peered into the watch display case at a small jewelry store in Fairfield, eyeing a mint condition Vulcain Cricket alarm watch, the original “president’s” watch. $150 wasn’t a bad price for the watch, so I agreed to buy it. By the cash register, at the jewelry case, stood Nell. I exclaimed, “Is that a Paul Newman Daytona?” Nell replied, “This watch is Paul Newman’s Daytona; I’m his daughter, Nell.” For the first time, I was star struck by a wristwatch.

 A MACRO SHOT OF PAUL NEWMAN'S PN DIAL/IMAGE CREDIT: Stephane (@leica on Instagram)

A MACRO SHOT OF PAUL NEWMAN'S PN DIAL/IMAGE CREDIT: Stephane (@leica on Instagram)

I asked whether or not Nell would consider selling the watch. She replied, “The watch is invaluable and Rolex has instructed me that I shouldn’t wear it out of the house. Sorry, I can’t sell; it was my father’s.” I walked outside and texted my mentor, Robert Maron. Once I explained to Bob that I was feet away from Paul Newman’s actual Paul Newman Daytona, he offered $3 million, an offer that I passed on to Nell, which she turned down.

The watch that was once not for sale, is now up for auction. And the watch worn by Nell Newman that day has supposedly been in the hands of James Cox for decades. My account of that Connecticut meeting is just an aside on the upcoming auction of the Paul Newman Daytona.