“The only thing I found grace in was a racing car”. Such a statement should be enough to describe a successful person, both in the racetrack and in life.
With his 108 victories and 8 international championships, Paul Newman is considered one of the most representative icons of modern Gentlemen Drivers. He was one of Hollywood actors who achieved the highest level of success in racing in recent history, from SCCA competition to Can Am, Trans Am and to the 24 hours of Le Mans.
He wasn't one of the Gentlemen Drivers of the classic era, as he was competing in the more modern times, but he always had the same spirit, racing with important motorcars such as the Triumph TR6, Porsche 935 and Nissan Skyline. Like other actors, like James Dean and Steve McQueen, Newman was able to be a trendsetter, still knowing how to be a discreet person. While Dean is associated with Porsche and McQueen with the Mustang, Newman became associated for the watch he wore every day, even when racing.
Wearing your wristwatch every day is an ordinary, almost ritual gesture we repeat every day before going out. In the act of putting it on your wrist, we add an invisible piece in the life of this wearable machine. There has been watches that have been used by recordmen, celebrities, professional divers, Hollywood actors and racecar drivers. Independently from what we'll be doing during our day, the wristwatch will put a timing to our routine.
In the world of Gentlemen Drivers, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is maybe the most representative timepiece of our routine of passionate car enthusiasts. It is a myth, a stylistic icon for both sporting enthusiasts and watch collectors.
The Daytona has been inextricably associated with this great Hollywood actor that the Ref.6239 has been defined “Paul Newman Daytona”, to indicate the peculiar color combination of the hands and dials.
The extraordinary thing about the actual Paul Newman's Paul Newman Daytona is that he received it as a gift from his wife, Joanne Westwood, during the filming of the film Winning, fitted with an engraving in the back, saying “DRIVE CAREFULLY ME”.
It was during this time that the passion for racing sparked inside the actor. The famous Paul Newman's Daytona, the iconic watch that sparked the passion for vintage Rolex collecting, was auctioned by Phillips just a few days ago for the incredible amount of $ 17.8 million, setting a new world record for a watch. What's even more incredible is the story how this very watch has been "lost": in the summer of 1984, it was issued as a gift to Newman's daughter boyfriend, James Cox, who used it every day until now. Apparently, Newman gave the watch to James because he hadn't a watch and he didn't know the time. The simplicity in wearing a watch and also to gift it to someone could sometimes lead to memorable stories.
The weareable icon for modern Gentlemen Drivers, equivalent to the Ferrari 250 GTO of watches, has been no more than a watch used like many, suffering impacts, gasoline spills, and much more. The new owner will probably keep it in some safe until he will decide to put it up for sale again. Besides all of this, it is interesting to note how routine sometimes may create legends and “key-points” in history. What we do always tells a story: our goal in life is that it will be remembered forever.
Jacopo Villa, contributor
- “1958 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible and Paul Newman” by 1950sUnlimited is licensed under CC BY 2.0
- “Paul Newman Once Upon a Wheel 1971” by ABC Television
- “David Winters Paul Neuman on set Wheel” by David Winters is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
- “Paul Newman” by Kate Gabrielle is licensed under CC BY 2.0
- “Paul Newman in Venice, 1963” by Lmattozz is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
- “Rolex Ref. 6239, 1969” by Phillips