Rolex Cosmograph Daytona “Paul Newman” 6262
The Grail Daytona. The Paul Newman.
There are only a handful of Daytonas that can be “Newmans”. Those references are - 6239, 6241, 6262, 6263, 6264 or 6265 and were released in either steel or yellow gold.
Crucially, if a Newman Daytona doesn’t have one of those four digit references, it isn’t one.
Today we’re going to look at references 6239, the first, and 6262, the rarest.
The Newman nickname references the dial, which is instantly identifiable due to its use of art deco style numerals and square markers on its sub-dials.
It achieved the nickname “Paul Newman” as the first reference with this exotic dial configuration, the 6239 was engraved with “drive carefully, me” and gifted to the man himself by his wife Joanne Woodward.
Newman was regularly seen wearing it over several decades, and the watch became almost as legendary as the man himself.
For those of you who aren’t as similarly ancient as I am, Paul Newman was WW2 veteran, Oscar winning actor, blue eyed heart throb, championship race car driver, philanthropist, and in his later years, producer of the finest Caesar dressing outside of Las Vegas.
Paul Newman and Steve McQueen were at the peak of cool guys in the 60s, and naturally, the pieces that they wore back then are some of the hottest vintage watches on the modern markets.
In 1984 Paul Newman gifted his Daytona to his daughter Nell’s boyfriend, James Cox, who had spent the summer on Newmans Connecticut estate helping to rebuild a treehouse in the grounds.
Cox shared these memories -
“Joanne had recently bought Paul a new watch with a new inscription on the back, so I guess you could say he was updating,” Cox continues. “Why he chose me to give the old Rolex, we’ll never know. People question why he would give such an intimate object away. But that was him. He didn’t hoard. He was more interested in helping people. I do tend to run late and maybe this irked him – he was never late despite the fact that he could have easily got away with it – it was just how he rolled.”
For the following decade, the ref. 6239 became everyday wear for Cox, who was oblivious to the fascination the watch world had for the piece and its current whereabouts. “I had no idea of its importance,” he says. “When Paul gave it to me in the 1980s, it was a beautiful personal gift.
I knew Rolex was a great brand and it was a nice thing to own but that was it. In the 1990s, I found out that the watch was a cult. I was at an event and a Japanese man kept pointing at my wrist and saying ‘Paul Newman’. I nodded and wondered how he could possibly know Paul gave me the watch.
“When I got home I did some research – and once I saw that the watch had its own Wikipedia page – I stopped wearing it and put it in a safety deposit box. It was interesting to know, but it made owning it a burden and that brings us up to the present day. Eventually I thought that as Paul had done something beautiful in giving the watch to me, it was time for me to do likewise. If he was alive today he would not want his watch to sit in a safe, he would say: ‘Let’s bring it out in the world.’”
And in 2017, that is EXACTLY what happened.
The watch was taken from the vault and shown the the public once again, but this time, it was going to be auctioned with a significant chunk of the profits going to The Nell Newman Foundation, a non profit set up by Pauls daughter.
The return of Paul Newman’s Paul Newman was met with huge excitement as you can see from the following quotes, it was described as - “The Holy Grail,”
“The Michael Jordan of Paul Newmans,”
“An artifact of museum quality,”
“The most iconic Rolex you could possibly imagine,”
“The perfect storm of awesomeness,”
and my favourite due to its concise nature - “The fucking watch.”
The Daytona was auctioned by Phillips and returned a staggering $17.8 million dollars thanks to an anonymous telephone bidder, which made it the most expensive wristwatch sold at auction, a crown that has only recently been snatched by Patek.
Not bad for a Daytona that had initially cost around $200 dollars.
The reference 6239 that Joanne bought for Paul was in production from 1963-69 and was the first of the Daytonas.
In 1970 the line received a refresh in the shape of a new movement, the Valjoux 727 which upped the beat rate from from 18,000 to 21,600 but the Daytona was otherwise aesthetically the same as the original.
The upgraded movement model was the reference 6262 which is one of the rarest vintage Rolex ever made. With one production year from 1970-71 it was a transitional model which was quickly replaced by the 6263 which included modern upgrades, such as screw down crowns and pushers.
Initially, seen as out of date and impractical with strange fonts, 6262’s were unpopular, and by unpopular, I mean to the point of being difficult to sell.
This one was on display for 4 years until it was purchased which gives you an idea of just how unloved they were at the time.
I expect those who passed it by are kicking themselves as currently the demand for these pieces, particularly those in original condition could not be higher.
This particular 6262 Newman is in spectacular condition.
It was originally sold in England in 1974 and has a lovely clean cream dial with eggshell tritium markers. It features a fixed metal bezel which has some hairlines as it’s been loved but still maintains its blacked out numbers.
The lugs are nice and fat with no sign of over polishing although at close to 50 years old it will likely have had a light lick at some point during a service.
We like to keep them unpolished though as theres nothing more satisfying than a thick case on a vintage watch.
The bracelet is original and has only the bare minimum of stretch.
All in, it is a fantastic example of a rare and coveted pump pusher transitional Newman.
These golden oldies are smaller then the modern Daytona at 37mm and rather than being automatic are manual winding which if you’re anything like me is a bonus as I love the daily routine of a morning wind over coffee.
Another little pleasure is the sound that these things make which is sometimes audible on the wrist as they tick along. You don’t hear it as much with an automatic but the sound of a mechanical working away in the background of your life is something that I really enjoy.
If you love this 6262 as much as we do, give us a call!