Paul Newman's Rolex Sold For $17,8 Million

Posted October 28, 2017

The Newman watch sold at Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo's inaugural NY auction.

"The watch is probably the most important collector's item of the 20th century for watch lovers".

When Joanne Woodward bought her husband a watch in the late 1960s, she couldn't possibly have foreseen how it could become the most expensive watch sold at auction nearly fifty years later.

The so-called Mona Lisa of watches sold for $17,752,500 on Thursday night at Phillips auction house, a world record for a wristwatch at auction.

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In fact, in the same Paul Newman Rolex Daytona auction that broke records, a Philippe Dufour Duality fetched a price of US$915,000.

Though the watch is not made of any precious metals or stones, it is worth a lot to collectors because of its story. Phillips says he wore it every day between 1969 and 1984, when he gave it to James Cox, then-boyfriend of Newman's daughter Nell, to thank him for rebuilding the tree house on their CT property. Newman had also taken up the sport himself and Woodward, fearful of his need for speed, inscribed on the back of the watch in all caps: "Drive Carefully You". Woodward paid about $300 for the watch when she bought it, a Phillips spokeswoman said. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Cox explained, "Paul asked me what time it was, to set his watch". Apparently Pop forgot to wind his wristwatch that morning. Bloomberg noted Cox decided, in part, to sell it so some of the proceeds could benefit the Nell Newman Foundation, for which he serves as treasurer.

Dubbed among "Twelve of the Greatest Missing Watches" by Hodinkee in 2012, the Rolex has actually been in the possession of its owner, James Cox, for decades.