Fact: Paul Newman is one of the coolest men to have ever lived. The legendary American actor, revhead and salad dressing mogul – who starred in classic films such as The Hustler, Road To Perdition, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – remains one of the most potent men’s style icons of all time.
He’s also responsible for popularising one of the most desirable watches of all time: the so-called ‘Paul Newman’ Rolex Cosmograph Daytona. A Daytona, in any guise, is already one of the most sought-after watches from one of the most sought-after brands on the planet, but Paul Newmans take that to another level.
These rare, ‘exotic dial’ chronographs regularly sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. A ref. 6239 owned by Newman himself recently sold for US$17,753,000: making it the third most valuable watch of all time, and easily the most valuable Rolex.
Of course, there’s a reason why Newman’s so closely associated with exotic dial Daytonas – he owned a bunch of ’em. But the Daytona wasn’t the only watch Newman had in his collection, far from it. Today, we’re going to shine a light on a few other watches Newman owned and wore during his illustrious career.
It took Newman a long time to settle on the Daytona, with the actor trying out many different watches before finding one that ‘fit’. The most notable of these is his Waltham Bathyscape Diver, made for Waltham by Blancpain, which he notably wore in the 1966 film Harper.
Sometimes called ‘the Baby Blancpain’, this watch itself has ironically since been dubbed the ‘Paul Newman’, just like the exotic dial Daytona. A classic and capable dive watch, it’s a respectable choice – although the lack of a chronograph function might have led to the motorsports-loving Newman ditching the Bathyscape for the Daytona.
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Newman also owned a large flat dress watch of some description which he often wore off the movie set, as you can see above. Our inclination is that it might be a Breitling (the large white outer track resembles a Navitimer and the bracelet design seems Breitling-esque), but the lack of obvious chronograph pushers is throwing us off.
Newman also wore a few Rolexes that weren’t Daytonas: for example, in 1986’s The Color of Money, Newman wore a simple steel Datejust ref. 16200 on a Jubilee bracelet, a watch that legendary watch auctioneer Aurel Bacs has described as a “perfect” watch. “Never underdressed, never overdressed. Exactly all the watch that you need, but not a gram more.” Just like Newman himself.
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In his earliest screen appearances, Newman also wore an even simpler still, time-only Rolex dress watch of some description, something like a ref. 4981. Photos from his early career are virtually all in black and white, so it’s hard to tell what material it was made out of – but knowing Newman’s typically understated style, we’d bet it was steel and not gold.
Newman also reportedly owned a few other watches that we don’t have any photos of, such as a Timex Ironman, as well as a bunch of other non-‘Paul Newman’ Daytonas, including a ‘Big Red’ and a modern ref. 116519. But for the vast majority of watch fans, the only Paul Newman watch is the Paul Newman – and that’s fine by us.