Modern Rolex watches are exceedingly popular, vintage Rolex watches are highly collectible, and Paul Newman Rolex Daytona watches are the cream of the crop. Simply put, vintage Rolex Daytona watches fitted with Paul Newman dials are grail-worthy watches. But, why? What makes a Paul Newman Daytona different from a standard dial Daytona, and more importantly, so much more expensive?
Collecting the Paul Newman Rolex Daytona is not for the faint of heart. Given their sky-high values and coveted status, the market for Daytona Paul Newman watches can be a minefield – particularly for newer collectors. This is why we’re chosen them as our vintage watches of the week. If you’re interested in learning more about one of the most collectible watches out there, read on as we shine a spotlight on the history, evolution, and collectability of the Paul Newman Rolex Daytona.
Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona Legacy
Rolex released the Comosgraph chronograph in 1963 but did not immediately use the Daytona name. Rolex’s racing-inspired chronograph was initially known as the Cosmograph LeMans. However, since the company was focused on the U.S. market, it wasn’t long until Rolex settled on the name Daytona—after the American center of auto-racing.
Rolex continues to manufacture highly popular Daytona watches today; yet, the rarest and most sought-after Daytona watches are the early four-digit manual-winding references, made from 1963 until 1988. Rolex furnished these Daytona references with standard dials and exotic dials, which are the ones we now refer to as Paul Newman dials.
The Characteristics of a Paul Newman Daytona Dial
The cases, bracelets, and movements of traditional vintage Daytona watches and “Paul Newman” Daytona watches are identical. So what sets a Paul Newman Daytona apart from other classic Daytona models?
The simple answer is the watch’s dial. The only Daytona watches to originally feature a Paul Newman dial are References 6239, 6241, 6262, 6263, 6264, and 6265. The sub-dials of the Paul Newman may also feature block markers rather than lines and have crosshairs across each sub-dial that meet in the middle. The seconds sub-dial on a Paul Newman dial is positioned at the 9 o’clock mark and displays 15, 30, 45, and 60. A normal Daytona dial is marked 20, 40, and 60. The Paul Newman dial also features an Art Deco-style font for the numerals as well as hash marks with a small square on the end.
Here are a few defining characteristics of a Daytona Paul Newman dial:
- The subdials in a contrasting color to the main dial
- The trio of subdials feature art deco-style font
- The trio of subdials feature hash marks at the end
- The small seconds subdials include the numbers 15, 30, 45, and 60 (traditional ones have 20, 40, 60)
- The dial features a small step” in between the center and the outer minute track
- Many (but not all) have tri-color dials
The six vintage Daytona references that Rolex fitted with Paul Newman dials are as follows:
- Reference 6239: produced approximately 1963 – 1969, pump pushers, metal bezel
- Reference 6241: produced approximately 1965 – 1969, pump pushers, acrylic bezel
- Reference 6262: produced approximately 1969 – 1970, pump pushers, metal bezel
- Reference 6264: produced approximately 1969 – 1972, pump pushers, acrylic bezel
- Reference 6265: produced approximately 1971 – 1988, screw-down pushers, metal bezel
- Reference 6263: produced approximately 1971 – 1988, screw-down pushers, acrylic bezel
Depending on the specific reference, there are stainless steel and yellow versions of the Paul Newman Daytona chronograph, as well as metal bezel and acrylic bezel variants.
Collecting and Buying Authentic Paul Newman Rolex Daytona Watches
As mentioned, exotic Paul Newman dials were not a hit when initially released. Rolex clients preferred the more traditional look of the standard Daytona dial. Due to the lack of demand, Rolex simply did not make many Paul Newman dials, which explains their rarity. That rarity, coupled with the history of Paul Newman the man and the interest in vintage Rolex watches in general, have all paved the way for the sky-high prices that these vintage beauties command today.
Given that there are no other differences aside from the dial between a Paul Newman Rolex Daytona and a regular Daytona of the same era, the Paul Newman Daytona can be a tricky watch to collect. Sadly, some have taken advantage of this situation to place fake Paul Newman dials on normal Daytona watches to pass them off as authentic Paul Newman watches.
As such, it is recommended that you always purchase your Rolex watches, especially a Paul Newman Daytona, through a certified and reputable dealer.
Paul Newman Rolex Daytona
Because there are no differences between a Paul Newman Rolex Daytona and a regular Daytona of the same time except the dial, the Paul Newman Daytona can be a tricky and potentially difficult watch to collect. Sadly, some have taken advantage of this situation to place fake Paul Newman dials on normal Daytona watches, attempting to pass them off as authentic Paul Newman watches. Because of this, it is recommended that you always purchase your Rolex watches, especially a Paul Newman Daytona, through a certified and reputable dealer.