The math behind that astronomical figure is fairly straightforward. The market is nuts for Rolex divers and chronographs from the sixties and early seventies to begin with, since those tool watches have became the number one fashion accessories in the eyes of the new rich. The early Rolex Daytonas are the Ferrari 250 GTOs of that bubble (without the fun a vintage Ferrari race car can offer), and if you add the icon that is Paul Newman to the picture, their no sum stopping the most addicted Rolex fanatics. Who probably also wish they were Paul Newman.
Despite all that, the manual-wind, 37mm 6239 Daytona is a badass piece of Swiss magnificence with its steel bezel and pump pushers. Not to mention that this tricolor exotic dial variant was named after Paul Newman because of this very watch.
The actor and racing legend got it from his wife in 1968, with the caseback engraved with the words "Drive Carefully Me". Which he did. Newman wore it pretty much every day until 1984, when he gave it to his daughter's date, after learning that they young man wasn't wearing a watch.
Understandably, once the ur-Daytona was off Paul Newman's wrist, its new owner made sure to keep it in its 1984 condition, meaning that in 2017, the world's most expensive wristwatch shows just the right level of wear and tear, while remaining completely original to the spec that was once Rolex's worst-selling model.
While the Paul Newman Daytona sold for $17,752,500 in New York City, it's worth noting that part of that sale price is likely to be a generous donation to the Nell Newman Foundation.
Either way, it is an absolutely bonkers number, especially knowing that Steve McQueen’s Heuer Monaco could be yours for $799,500 just five years ago. Once again, Daytona beats Monaco.
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