The 20th century was riddled with celebrities who attempted to breach the confines of their areas of expertise to engage in other industries. We all saw Elvis take his well-marketed persona to the silver screen and even witnessed Shaq debut a handful of lost-in-time rap albums. In 2023, we see this more often in the form of celebrity whiskeys and restaurants. When you’re famous, you have a lot of connections, and those connections can afford you big opportunities. Like few celebrities, however, Paul Newman was a true talent across the board. His passion for both philanthropy and food sparked the idea for Newman’s Own in the ‘80s — a nonprofit line of salad dressings using a recipe made by the actor himself — which is still ubiquitous on store shelves today. But an upcoming auction features a pair of items that represent two more of the man’s most important passions.
Newman was also a fervent fan of auto racing and in 1995, at 70 years old, became the oldest driver to ever win his class at the 24 Hours of Daytona. As the official partner of the race, Rolex gifted the actor a 16520 ‘Zenith’ Daytona timepiece while presenting him with the Man of the Year award. The obverse side of the beautiful white dial reads the inscription: “Rolex at Daytona 24 Paul Newman Rolex Motorsports Man of the Year 1995.” Newman possessed this watch until auctioning it off for charity in 1999, but he somehow acquired it back later in life. Now it’s being offered once more from his and his wife’s estate.
The second watch up for sale is a Ref. 116519 Rolex Daytona given to him by his wife of 50 years, Joanne Woodward, only a year or two before his death in 2008. The chronograph’s caseback reads the inscription, “Drive Very Slowly Joanne.” Featuring a white gold case, this timepiece was the only precious metal Daytona owned by Newman and the last watch gifted to him by Joanne. He wore this during his farewell laps at Lime Rock Park about a month before his passing from lung cancer.
If you want your chance at owning one of these two Rolex watches, head over to Sotheby’s on June 3 when the auction goes live.