The Rolex Paul Newman Daytona needs no introduction. Arguably, it’s the most coveted vintage Rolex of all time: popular on the auction block, and sought-after as a grail watch by many.
But this wasn’t always the case.
In fact, when Rolex first released the “exotic dial” – later known as the “Paul Newman” dial – for the Cosmograph Daytona line in the 1960s, it was deemed a flop. Buyers much preferred the standard Daytona dial, and it took dealers a long time to move.
So how did a dial that started off so poorly claim its now legendary status among watch collectors? It’s all thanks to the man himself.
Paul Newman started wearing a Rolex Daytona with an exotic dial in the early 1970s, about the same time he transitioned to professional race car driving.
A renowned actor who raced cars while wearing a Rolex Daytona? A perfect match. After all, the Cosmograph Daytona was initially created for the world of motorsports. That pairing, coupled with a famous photograph of Paul Newman wearing his Daytona ref. 6239 with an exotic dial, set the stage for Italian auction houses to nickname the exotic dial Daytona as the Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman”.
The rest, as they say, is history.
What makes a Daytona a „Paul Newman“?
There are some very distinct design hallmarks that distinguish a Paul Newman Rolex from a standard vintage Daytona.
First, a watch must be one of six reference numbers: 6239, 6241, 6262, 6263, 6264, or 6265. Second, the watch must have the right details: the markers with square-shaped ends; the Art Deco font of the numerals; the fine lines that meet in the middle of the sub-dials; and the 15, 30, 45, and 60 numerals on the 9 o’clock subdial rather than a 20/40/60 numeral configuration.
These dials may not have been popular upon first release, but you can’t deny their vintage sporty appeal today. You can most often find the Rolex Daytona Paul Newman in steel, but it’s also available in yellow gold (in much smaller quantities).
Celebrity-endorsed, historic, record-breaking, and above all, highly attractive, the Rolex Daytona Paul Newman has earned its iconic status as the ultimate vintage chronograph.