By Brecken Branstrator
At left, Paul Newman’s Ref. 6239 Cosmograph Daytona (Photo credit: Phillips). At right, the late actor wearing the watch (Photo credit: Douglas Kirkland via Getty Images).
New York--Phillips, in association with Bacs & Russo, is inaugurating its New York auctions by selling the watch of a late Hollywood icon.

Slated for Oct. 26, “Winning Icons--Legendary Watches of the 20 Century” will offer watches from some of the most important collectors of the last century, including what the auction house is calling one of the “most important Rolex watches to ever be offered on the market,” the Paul Newman Cosmograph Daytona once owned by the film star himself.

Newman was a two-time Academy Award winner. He won Best Actor for his role in 1987’s “The Color of Money” and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, an award given periodically by the Academy honoring an individual’s contributions to humanitarian causes.

He died of lung cancer in September 2008.

20170912 InscriptionPaul Newman’s wife was concerned with his safety when he started driving race cars and so inscribed the Rolex Daytona she gave him with the words “Drive Carefully Me.” (Photo credit: Phillips)
Outside of acting, Newman also was a director, entrepreneur, philanthropist and racecar driver, the latter of which grew from his role as Frank Capua in the 1969 film “Winning.” The movie--in which his real-life wife, Joanne Woodward, played his wife--took place at the Indianapolis 500 Motor Speedway and launched Newman’s successful auto racing career.

He committed a lot of time to this part of his life, dedicating himself to training and going on to win a number of races, including a second place win at the 1979 “24 Hours of Le Mans” race.

Newman’s wife, on the other hand, constantly was afraid for his safety, even from the earliest days on the set of “Winning,” Phillips said.

So she bought him, likely at Tiffany & Co., a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, a watch designed specifically for motor sports, and had the caseback inscribed with these words: “Drive Carefully Me.”

Woodward chose a rare and exclusive version of the Cosmograph Daytona to give to her husband, a Ref. 6239 fitted with what the brand called an “exotic” dial.

The Ref. 6239 was the very first model of the brand’s iconic “Daytona” series, produced from about 1963 until 1970. It also was the brand’s first chronograph with a tachymeter scale engraved on the bezel, designed to measure speed instantly and clearly.

During the 1980s, when the popularity of collecting wristwatches was growing, Daytonas fitted with this so-called exotic dial became known as “Paul Newman” Daytonas. Along with the red Daytona designation at 6 o’clock and the red outer seconds track, these watches also have subsidiary dials, Phillips said.

The Art Deco feel of the font and the hash marks with small squares used for the counters set them apart from the standard Daytona dials.

20170912 Paul NewmanThe late actor, racecar driver and philanthropist Paul Newman wearing his Rolex Daytona (Photo credit: Ron Galella via Getty Images)
The watch up for auction next month is the very one that Newman himself wore until 1984, when he gave it to James Cox, who was dating his daughter Nell at the time and also was helping them with a construction project at their house.

Nell Newman and Cox, who remain close friends, are selling the watch together. A portion of the proceeds will go to The Nell Newman Foundation, which supports organic food and sustainable agriculture, as well as the Newman’s Own Foundation.

In other company news, Phillips recently announced the appointment of Arthur Touchot as specialist and head of digital strategy.

In his new role, Touchot will work closely with the department’s senior consultants and international strategy advisor to lead the expansion of the auction house’s digital presence.

Touchot most recently served as the senior European editor at online watch publication Hodinkee, where he provided analysis of the auction market and helped grow Hodinkee’s international reach.

He began his career writing articles for traditional media outlets, including the International Herald Tribune and the Financial Times, before joining Haute Time to lead its editorial team.

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