Today is the big day. Ever since Phillips announced that they were auctioning off Paul Newman’s “Paul Newman” Daytona back in June, the watch community has been buzzing with questions.
How high will the hammer price be? $8 million? $10 million? Over $12 million? What does this mean for the auction community and the value of Paul Newman Daytonas as a category?
So many questions, and less than six more hours until the Phillips showroom on Park Avenue transforms into a high-stakes fight over 50 legendary timepieces. With so much focus on Paul Newman’s “Paul Newman” Daytona — and for a good reason — a few other timepieces have slipped under the radar. Here’s five watches that you should keep your eye on when watching the Phillips Winning Icons auction tonight.
Lot #1: Heuer Monaco Ref. 1133
The first lot starts the auction off with a bang. This is a new-old-stock Heuer Monaco from 1970. The Monaco was first released in 1969 and became popular after Steve McQueen wore the model in the 1971 film Le Mans. This is an absolutely fresh timepiece that has never been worn and includes the original Heuer sticker on its caseback. The estimated value is currently projected to end up between $10,000 – $20,000 but I expect the Heuer army to show up in force today and wouldn’t be surprised to see it end up doubling the list price. After all, how often does an unworn Ref. 1133 show up in the marketplace? This is the kind of watch that will be referenced on Heuer forums for the next decade-plus.
Lot #10: Rolex Daytona Ref. 6265/3
“I want a Rolex with a twist.” So said Bruce J. Levin, a businessman turned race car driver who owned the Bayside Disposal Team in 1984, to a Rolex Vice President who offered him any Rolex from the brand’s catalogue at the time. He requested a Daytona Ref. 6265 in stainless steel and gold, something that Rolex had never made before or since. This is truly a one-of-a-kind timepiece that is expected to sell for $100,000 – $200,000.
Lot #13: Cartier Crash
The Cartier Crash is an icon in avant-garde watch design. Some believe that the watch was created to reference The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali but a more accepted — if not more outlandish — theory is that a Cartier executive was wearing his Maxi Bagnoire Alongee when he got in a car accident and the resulting fire melted the watch down into this shape. The watch was taken to London for repair where some watchmaker was inspired and subsequently created the Crash in 1967. It has been produced in limited quantities ever since, and this model from 1986/87 is part of an extremely limited run of plus-sized versions. It’s estimated to sell for between $40,000 – 80,000.
Lot #23: A. Lange & Söhne Pour Le Mérite Ref. 701.011
It wasn’t until 1994 — four years after Walter Lange announced his intentions to bring the A. Lange & Söhne marque back to life — that the first four watches were physically released. Here, we have perhaps the most iconic of the four: the Pour Le Mérite Ref. 701.011. This model was produced in a limited edition of 201 examples over the next four years. Only 24 were produced in rose gold, including this one. It’s expected to sell for between $120,000 – $240,000 and will likely go to a collector interested in historic modern timepieces that can only appreciate with time.
Lot #41: Zenith El Primero A386
While the Zenith El Primero A386 is not as rare as some of the watches up for bid today, it’s as historically significant as any other. This is one of the very first chronographs that featured an automatic movement. It is in totally original condition, including its Gay Fréres ladder bracelet and comes with its box, papers, and hang tags. A unique piece of horological history, an authentic A386 provides a peerless glimpse into the past 45 years of watchmaking. It’s expected to end up between $12,000 – $24,000 but expect it to exceed the estimate as well.
Going back to tonight’s star, we’ve heard a lot of doubts over the past few days from people in the watch community, and outside of it, wondering why this watch has been so publicized and why some insiders have the final hammer price hitting the eight-figure mark. It’s a fair question. After all, the most recent high-priced Paul Newman memorabilia that’s been to auction before — the Porsche 935 that Newman drove when he finished second in the the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans — sold for $4.4 million to TV star Adam Carolla.
So what’s the deal? Why does this watch matter so much?
It’s simple. Rolex is the most well-known and most profitable watch brand in the world. And what model drives collectors into the biggest frenzy? Paul Newman Daytonas. And of all the Paul Newman Daytonas, which one would those collectors want the most? Paul Newman’s “Paul Newman” Daytona. Couple that with the fact that this will bring out deep-pocketed film memorabilia collectors as well as the typical global audience of watch collectors and what you have is the perfect storm for creating — perhaps — the most expensive watch in history.
Feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments, and you can watch the Phillips Winning Icons auction live at 6:00 EST tonight.