If seeker-of-historical-artefacts Indiana Jones was a real person AND a watch enthusiast, No. 1 on his “Great Lost Timepieces” would surely be Paul Newman’s own Daytona. The actual watch that provided collectors with a new name for what Rolex called the “exotic” dial has turned up, saving watch hunters the effort, and is due to be auctioned by Phillips in October.
It is, arguably, more important than the Steve McQueen Heuer Monaco famously photographed with the actor in full racing attire, or (and this will earn brickbats from those who disagree) any of the Speedmasters that went to the moon. No offence to Omega, but there are more well-heeled collectors chasing Rolex Daytonas than Speedmasters, however wonderful the latter.
Why the devotion, passion and levels of obsession applied to the references 6239, 6241, 6262, 6263, 6264 or 6265? Because the so-called Rolex Paul Newman Cosmograph Daytona – in whatever order in which you wish to read those words – acquired a cult, probably initiated by Italian enthusiasts in the late 1980s, and where they go, so go the rest of us. “Double Reds”? “Pointed crown guards”? All that stuff started with the Italians.
That it is now the most lusted-after wristwatch of them all, by the greatest number of enthusiasts, is indisputable. You could add up all those who dream of Patek Philippe Ref 1463s, movie watches such Valentino’s own Cartier Tank and watches owned by rock gods, like Elvis’ own Hamilton Ventura, and the total wouldn’t approach those who would do silly things for any Paul Newman. But his actual example? The record books have a blank space awaiting the seven- or even eight-figure amount this will attract. The record-breaking Rolex “Bao Dai Ref 6062”? Who cares? You are now passé.