Paul Newman’s Rolex watch fetches a record $17.8m at auction. The most expensive watch ever sold.

A rare Rolex watch that was owned by the late movie star Paul Newman has sold for almost $17.8m (£13.5m), making it the most expensive watch ever auctioned.

The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, made of stainless steel and on sale between 1963 and 1970, became known as the “Paul Newman watch”.

Paul wore the watch every day for 15 years.

The expected price was around £1m but there was far more interest than expected and more than 700 people crammed into the auction room, while others joined by phone from 43 countries.

The Rolex was sold to an anonymous bidder for $17,752,500.

The watch had been given to Paul Newman by his wife, Joanne Woodward, in 1968.
She bought it from a Tiffany & Co store in New York and had it engraved with the message “Drive carefully”, in light of her husband’s fledgling motor racing career.

In 1984 he gave the watch to his daughter’s then boyfriend, James Cox, who did not own a watch, saying it “keeps good time”.

After the two friends split up they remained on good terms, and they jointly put the watch up for auction. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Nell Newman Foundation and the Newman’s Own Foundation.

Paul Boutros, the head of watches at Phillips auctioneers in New York, said it had been a tremendous honour to handle the sale:

“The significance of this watch cannot be overstated,” he said.