Hundreds gathered at the Phillips auction house in New York earlier this week for the latest wristwatch auction. By the time the dust settled, Paul Newman’s own 1968 Rolex Paul Newman Daytona had become the most expensive wristwatch to be sold at auction. Including the buyer’s premium, it sold for US$17,752,500.
The watch was the eighth lot of the evening. Bidding started with a $1 million absentee bid but quickly jumped to $10 million from a phone bidder. Just over 10 minutes later, auctioneer Aurel Bacs called it, “It is history now, fifteen million five hundred thousand!”
“This record result is a testament to the historic importance and continued legacy of this Rolex, which is responsible for creating an entirely new market and inspiring a new generation of collectors,” said Aurel Bacs, senior consultant and co-founder of Bacs & Russo SA.
The Paul Newman Daytona was a gift from Newman’s wife, Joanne Woodward. She apparently bought it at a Tiffany & Co. store on Fifth Avenue, not far from where the auction took place this week. It features the inscription “Drive Carefully Me” on the back. Paul Newman had around the same time begun to race cars.
While Paul Newman’s Paul Newman as it is often known is now the most expensive wristwatch, a 1933 Patek Philippe pocket watch still holds the record for most expensive watch, having sold for US$24.4 million in 2015.