Original article from The Washington Post by Travis M. Andrews
Steve McQueen had his motorcycle. James Dean had his red jacket. And Paul Newman had his Rolex.
Fans of Newman began noticing the Rolex Daytona watch wrapped around his wrist in the late 1960s, just as he began his car racing career under the moniker P.L. Newman.
It was a work of beauty, a human-crafted wonder. Three black dials decorated its cream-colored face, encased in a stainless steel rim adorned with a tachymeter on its bezel. Red letters over the bottom dial spelled out “DAYTONA.” The Rolex crown perched on top of the face, the word “COSMOGRAPH” under it.
The mechanical watch radiated coolness, much like its owner. It was a constant companion to Newman’s left wrist in magazine shoots, paparazzi photos and while he was speeding around in his race cars. The model, which was “made famous by him thanks to this very timepiece,” was eventually nicknamed the “Paul Newman Daytona,” Phillips Auction House said in a news release.
After spending years out of the spotlight, the watch landed at Phillips, the auction house, earlier this year. Anticipation grew, as experts speculated it would sell for around $1 million, a high asking price for any watch, even one associated with “Cool Hand Luke.” On Thursday, it sold for $17,752,500 after a 12-minute bidding war.
That’s the world record for the most expensive watch ever sold at an auction, according to Phillips. A portion of the proceeds went to the Nell Newman Foundation.
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