The Rolex Daytona and Paul Newman
Paul Newman was one of the greatest movie stars who ever lived. In the 1970s and 1960s his name was box office gold. His performances in movies like Cool Hand Butch and Luke Cassidy and the Sundance Kid made him an icon of rebellious, hipster cool that resonated deeply with an entire generation. Newman was also a serious humanitarian who raised hundreds of millions for charities through his Newman’s Own company and the Hole in the Wall Gang Camps for seriously ill children. His charitable works continue after his passing, too. In addition to his charitable accomplishments, Newman still manages to do something else noteworthy after his passing: to lend his name to one of the most sought after variants of one of the most desirable Rolex watches of them all-the Daytona.
Back in the days when a wooden ring would have been quite rare in a jewelry window, the watch was introduced in 1960 as the Rolex Cosmograph. That is an interesting and trademarked Rolex way of saying chronograph. On the Cosmograph, a tachymeter scale is engraved on the bezel. The tachymeter can be used as a mechanical calculator and is especially helpful in calculating lap times. This made the watch very popular with the racing set and is why it eventually was renamed Daytona after the famous race track in Florida. Thus does Paul Newman enter the story.
Newman was an avid racing amateur and fan race car enthusiast. His wife, actress Joanne Woodward, gave him his first Rolex Cosmograph in 1972. In later years he evidently owned another, rarer contrasting register model that has been the source of much controversy among collectors. (Registers are the small circular places on the dial for theminutes and seconds, and hours of the chronograph.) Several stories, none of which have been proven conclusively, are told by collectors to explain the association of Newman with the rare variation of the Daytona now called the “Paul Newman” with contrasting registers. Some aficionados maintain only manual-wind Reference 6239 and 6241s with non-screw down pushers are properly called Paul Newman’s. In practice, today any contrasting register Daytona is generically termed a Paul Newman.
Today’s Daytona is better than ever and the Paul Newman association has done the model no harm. Rolex upgraded the watch in 2000 with a superb in-house movement. In fact, the Daytona is a certified chronometer (a highly accurate watch). You rarely see that in a chronograph as it is extremely difficult to make a glorified stopwatch a chronometer-accurate timekeeper. When it is time to send it in for rolex watch repair most owners don’t seem to mind, although , you will pay a little more for a chronograph service. They see it as a necessary cost in owning one of the class acts in watches. In fact, the watch named after him and Paul Newman share the quality of class to a great degree. Newman is missed, but the watch he loved carries on.