Paul Newman’s Daytona Rolex just became the most expensive wristwatch ever sold in an auction.
During an auction of 20th century watches on Thursday, Newman’s watch sold for $17.8 million. According to Bloomberg, the auction only lasted 12 minutes, with the first bid coming in at $1 million, and quickly jumping to $10 million. The last five minutes turned into a showdown between two bidders, going from $15 million to the closing price of $17.8 million. The winning bidder has chosen to remain anonymous.
Newman’s Rolex is iconic. As The Washington Post put it, “Steve McQueen had his motorcycle. James Dean had his red jacket. And Paul Newman had his Rolex.” The watch was given to Newman by his wife, Joanne Woodward, with the engraving “DRIVE CAREFULLY ME.”
In the ‘80s, Newman stopped wearing the watch and no one knew its fate. He apparently gave the watch to his daughter’s college boyfriend James Cox in 1984, who eventually put it away for safekeeping. Earlier this year, Cox decided to auction off the watch, giving a large portion of the proceeds to the Nell Newman Foundation, which focuses on environmental issues.
Bloomberg noted that the previous highest recorded price for a wristwatch was a Patek Philippe watch that sold for $11.1 million last November.