May 29, 2018

Paul Newman’s Paul Newman

On October 26, 2017, Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona sold for a record-breaking $17.75 million, making it the most expensive wristwatch ever sold.

For those not familiar with watches, the Rolex Daytona model is fairly unimpressive watch, by Rolex standards anyway. It is not made of precious metals, it is not encrusted with diamonds, it is not crammed with fancy features.

(Aside: To my everlasting delight, fancy features are referred to as “complications” in the watch world. I would love if we all started calling fancy software features complications.)

When it was first released in the 1960s, almost no one wanted a Rolex Daytona. It was considered the ugly duckling of the Rolex brand for 20 years after its release. Dealers who had them in stock sometimes sold them at half price just to be rid of them.

Enter Paul Newman.

Mr. Newman’s wife gave him a Daytona around 1969, which he evidently proceeded to never remove. And then, he proceeded to be photographed about fifty thousand times looking extremely cool while wearing it.

He was photographed wearing his Daytona while racing cars, at high society galas, and on magazine covers. He wore the dang thing in his movies.

Newman was seen wearing this odd looking Rolex so often that eventually the model came to be known as the “Paul Newman” Daytona. And that’s precisely when people started wanting a Daytona. And when people want something, the price they’ll pay for it goes up.

In the late 1980s, people were paying $1500 for a Daytona. In the 90s, it was up to $10,000. In the early 2000s, they were hitting six figures. In 2013, a Daytona broke the $1 million mark. And as you learned already, in 2017 someone paid over $17 million dollars for Paul Newman’s personal, one-and-only “Paul Newman” Daytona.

This is a 10,000x price increase! What the H-E-DOUBLE-HOCKEY-STICKS is going on here?!

Stay tuned... more on this tomorrow.

In the meantime, I think you’ll enjoy reading this article about the watch, its history, the seller, and the auctioneer. And definitely spend the seven minutes to watch the video recording of the live auction. It’s wild.



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