The Paul Newman Daytona was just sold for a record price.

Well, someone got a bad case of auction fever yesterday. On Tuesday we reported on the  Rolex Daytona known as the “Paul Newman” owned by actor Paul Newman. Yesterday in New York the watch sold at auction for $15.5-million to an anonymous phone bidder. The buyer’s premium of 12.5%, hyper inflated the winning bid to the sum of $17,752,500.

The buying price when it was originally bought by Paul Newman’s wife Joanne Woodward as a gift, was $200. It was sold by Phillips in association with Bacs & Russo, and it sets a new record for a Rolex sold at auction. It is also the record price for any wristwatch sold at auction, and is considered the most iconic wristwatch of the 20th Century.

The previous record for a Rolex sold at auction was $5-million for a Rolex Ref. 6062, nicknamed the “Bao Dai” because it was owned by the last emperor of Vietnam.

Until yesterday the highest price paid for a Rolex Daytona – the most collectible Rolex model – was $3.7-million, set last spring at a Phillips, Bacs & Russo auction. Previously the most expensive wristwatch ever to be sold at auction was a Patek Philippe Ref. 1518, for $11-million, also sold by Phillips. This raises the bar considerably.

The Rolex was gifted to James Cox by Paul Newman, a college student at the time, who dated Newman’s daughter Nell. Cox said he wore it proudly for years and then, as prices for vintage watches began skyrocketing, put it away in a safe box.

Cox decided to sell the piece, in part, to raise money for the Nell Newman Foundation, where he serves as treasurer. The charity supports causes including the environment, sustainable agriculture and education.


We are committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using the retail links in our product reviews. Learn more about how this works.