One of the most famous vintage Rolex watches available is the so-called Daytona Paul Newman, named after the famous Hollywood actor who wore a steel Daytona Ref.6239 with white 'exotic' dial during an early 1970's magazine photoshoot and in his personal life.
Little though is talked about the other Rolex watches Paul Newman owned and wore on a regular basis, take for instance this seemingly 'normal' stainless steel automatic Daytona with white dial, just a regular production model Ref.16520 he happened to wear regularly during the latter years of his racing career, right? Wrong.
Paul Newman discovered a love of racing cars while filming the 1969 movie 'Winning' (he didn't wear a Rolex in that movie) and after commenting it was the first sport he ever had any talent in, proceeded to enter his first professional event in 1972, the same year his wife presented him with a Ref.6263 Daytona (more on that one later). Paul Newman's love of racing and desire to run a professional team let him to contact Bill Freeman in 1976 and the two later established 'Newman Freeman Racing', wining the Can-Am team championship trophy in 1979. Paul Newman later teamed up with Carl Haas to launch the highly successful Newman/Hass Racing team, achieving 8 drivers championships in 1983.
In 1995 Paul Newman won his GT1 class at the 24hrs of Daytona race and, as is still common today for the winners of the Rolex sponsored 'Rolex 24' at Daytona, was presented with a (white dialed) steel Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 16520 engraved with his name.
After being presented with the specially engraved Rolex Daytona in 1995, Paul Newman, in typical generous fashion, donated it to Antiquorum's charity auction 'Famous Faces' held in New York in 1999. During the auction the watch sold for US39,000 (with the entire proceeds going to charity), well above its estimate but a fraction of the value it would be worth today. I was fortunate enough to view the late Paul Newman's collection of watches in 2009, the above photograph was taken by me of his well-used white-dialed Ref. 16520 Daytona with presentation inscription. Presumably Mr Paul Newman didn't want to let it go so easily and either bought it himself at the 1999 sale, or someone bought it for him.