Paul Newman's Vintage Rolex Watch Fetches $17.8M at Auction

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"I said, you know, 'a hair past a freckle, ' or some comment meaning 'I don't have a watch,'" the 52-year-old Cox told the New York Times in July after the sale was announced. With more than 700 people in the room watching the auction take place, competing phone bidders went back and forth until the hammer price of $17.8 million was settled on by the victor. One of the world's most legendary and sought after of all mechanical wristwatches, this timepiece is the only "exotic"-dialed Daytona that Mr. Newman owned, inspiring the legendary nickname for the most prestigious versions of Rolex's Daytona".

Phillips has set a new world record for any wristwatch at auction with the $17,752,500 (£13,557,011) sale of American actor Paul Newman's Rolex. Newman had also taken up the sport himself and Woodward, fearful of his need for speed, inscribed on the back of the watch in all caps: "Drive Carefully You". Mr. Cox, who was at the long-time boyfriend of Newman's daughter, was working on a treehouse with the famous actor in the mid-1980's.

This past June he chose to sell it and give "a big portion" of the proceeds to the Nell Newman Foundation, whose goal is "carrying on her father's legacy of charitable giving, coupled with her passion for the environment", and the Newman's Own Foundation.

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"This record result is a testament to the historic importance and continued legacy of this Rolex", said Aurel Bacs, a watch specialist of the Phillips auction house in NY. After years of keeping the watch in a safe box, Cox made a decision to put it up for auction this year, with proceeds going to the Nell Newman Foundation.

She wrote: "Pop asked James if he knew the time". He said Newman appeared to be surprised and handed him the Rolex Daytona, telling him if he winds it, it will keep pretty good time.