Watches and cars seem to go hand-in-hand for many enthusiasts. At least that was the case for Stan Barrett, whose legend as a Hollywood stunt man through the ‘60s and ‘70s — working on iconic films such as Smokey and the Bandit and Navajo Joe — led to his attempt at breaking the land speed record and becoming the first man to travel faster than the speed of sound on the ground. Three of his watches will be auctioned off as part of Sotheby’s Important Watches sale later this year.
Sponsored by Budweiser, the feat took place on December 17, 1979, as Barrett hopped in the Budweiser Rocket to surpass Mach 1 at 739.67mph. On his left wrist were a pair of Rolex watches gifted to him by his good friend Paul Newman: a stainless steel GMT-Master with a Pepsi bezel and a stainless steel Ref. 6262 Daytona (which, we should note, is not a “Paul Newman” Daytona due to its lack of a Singer exotic dial). Newman had the former engraved on the back to commemorate the accomplishment, reading, “STAN BARRETT 739 MPH MACH 1.0106 12-17-79.”
A third watch is also being auctioned off. August Busch, then-CEO of Anheuser-Busch, gifted Barrett with a yellow gold Rolex GMT-Master Ref. 1675, engraved on the back with “STAN BARRETT – DRIVER – BUDWEISER ROCKET CAR 739.66 M.P.H. DECEMBER 17 1979.” Following the land speed record, Barrett began racing professionally with NASCAR in the ‘80s, where he finished in the top ten twice.
While the pair of GMTs are estimated to sell for between $50,000 and $100,000 apiece, the Daytona is expected to go for upwards of $300,000 — no doubt aided by its connection to Newman, as the combination of the words “Paul Newman” and “Rolex Daytona” tends to send collectors into a frenzy. The Important Watches auction will take place on December 9 in New York via Sotheby’s auction house.