Two wristwatches liked to Hollywood legends, one that belonged to Paul Newman and the other to Steve McQueen, will be up for grabs at auction house Phillips’ flagship New York sale titled “Racing Pulse” in December this year. The two watches – Newman’s Rolex Daytona Ref. 6263 and the Heuer Monaco chronograph Steve McQueen wore during the filming of Le Mans – are making their maiden appearance on the auction block.
Paul Newman’s name has been inextricably linked to the Rolex Daytona ever since he was photographed wearing a Ref. 6239 on the cover of an Italian magazine in the 1980’s. That particular watch, a gift from his wife Joanne Woodward in 1972, sparked a craze for “Paul Newman” Daytona models that reached fever pitch when Newman’s own Ref. 6239 sold for $17.7 million in 2017. It remains the most expensive Rolex ever sold at any auction.
The Ref. 6263 up for sale now was also a gift from his wife, this time on their 25th wedding anniversary in 1983. The “Big Red” Daytona as this particular Rolex reference is nicknamed – a reference to the Daytona script in red on the dial – carries the inscription “Drive Slowly Joanne” on the caseback. Newman’s youngest daughter Claire “Clea” Newman Soderlund is consigning this watch to the auction.
“He wore the watch nearly every day until he gave it to me. He was photographed wearing it on numerous occasions, as was I. It has been a treasure of mine for almost thirteen years. To me, this watch shows my mother’s tolerance of his continued passion for racing and reflects the enduring love between them which remained for another 25 years until his passing,” she said. It is worth mentioning here that the record-breaking Ref. 6239 from the 2017 auction was consigned by James Cox, who was Newman’s older daughter Nell Potts’ then boyfriend. Newman gave him the watch nearly 30 years ago. A part of the proceeds from this sale, like the earlier Daytona sale, will also benefit charitable organisations founded by the actor. According to Phillips, this Ref. 6263 already has a pre-sale estimate in excess of $1 million.
The second timepiece is a Heur Monaco chronograph worn by Steve McQueen during the filming of Le Mans in which the style icon played a driver competing in the legendary motor race. It is believed to be the last of two known Monaco watches kept and gifted by McQueen to be offered publicly. The actor presented it to Haig Alltounian, the film’s chief mechanic and his personal mechanic, at the end of the filming and the caseback holds the inscription “TO HAIG Le MANS 1970”
Heuer Monaco was launched in 1969 and was the Swiss brand’s first self-winding chronograph. Considered a classic now, the square-cased chronograph is often associated with McQueen after Heuer advertisements featured stills from the film showing McQueen wearing the chronograph. Alltounian himself has consigned this watch, believed to be in good condition, to the auction. Phillips’ Racing Pulse auction is scheduled for December 12 in New York City.