Paul Newman's Rolex auctions for $17.8M

Paul Newman's Rolex Daytona is world's most expensive watch ever auctioned

After 12 minutes of bidding from collectors across 43 countries and a packed NY sale room, the Ref. 6239 stainless-steel watch sold to an anonymous telephone bidder for $17,752,500, setting a world record for the most expensive watch ever sold at auction.

Visit Phillips' homepage to see the lots' full list and results of this auction in NY.

6239 - considered the holy grail in the world of watch collecting - was expected to go for as high $10 million, but it hit the stratosphere after a 12-minute bidding war. James responded that he didn't know the time and didn't own a watch.

Given to him by his wife Joanne Woodward and lovingly inscribed while the couple filmed and co-starred in the 1969 movie "Winning", Newman was photographed wearing the iconic stainless steel watch on countless occasions. "She knew he didn't want anything flashy", explains their daughter, Nell Newman.

Newman died September 26, 2008, at age 83.

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Newman chose to part with watch, a gift from his wife, Joanne Woodward in 1968, only because she had presented him with a new one.

According to Forbes, Newman had given the watch away in 1984 as a gift to James Cox, who dated Nell and is still a close friend. Cox was restoring a tree house on the Westport, Connecticut estate owned by the Newmans.

"Pop handed James his Rolex and said, 'If you can keep in mind to wind this each day, it tells pretty good time, '" wrote Nell in a signed letter accompanying the sale.

"Paul asked me what time it was, to set his watch". Cox kept it, wore it, before placing it in a safe deposit box in recent years after he realized it was likely worth over a million dollars thanks to Newman's star status.

The Phillips worldwide team of Watch specialists brought together a world-class group of collectors' wristwatches of the highest quality in terms of condition, rarity and provenance. 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. Maybe somewhere, Newman's famous blue eyes are twinkling.

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