A Paul Newman Rolex Daytona watch that was appraised on Antiques Roadshow for $700,000
image via Forbes

What’s even more shocking is the original purchase price on this Paul Newman Rolex Daytona. A United States Air Force veteran named David (last name has been kept private) purchased it for $345 at his base exchange when he was in the service decades ago.

That was at a 10% military discount, and it was almost a month’s salary at the time. For reference, a U.S. Air Force member brought in about $300 to $400 a month back in 1974.

This Antiques Roadshow episode aired in January, and was filmed in Fargo, North Dakota. Keep reading to find out why this Paul Newman Rolex Daytona watch is worth so much.

What is Antiques Roadshow?

First off, what the heck is Antiques Roadshow? Antiques Roadshow is a television show that began airing on PBS in 1997. According to PBS.org, it’s a part adventure, part history lesson, and part treasure hunt!

The tv show travels and films throughout the United States. Specialists from leading auction houses and independent dealers offer free appraisals in communities around the nation.

Individuals bring in their family heirlooms, antiques, flea market finds, and collectibles to find out how much they’re worth. Sometimes these items are only worth a few hundred dollars more than original prices.

In contrast, the occasional large amount appraisal can literally cause an on-screen collapse. Exactly like the owner of this historical Paul Newman Rolex Daytona did when he found out how much the watch is worth.

A Quick History of the Paul Newman Rolex Daytona

These Rolex Daytonas have become some of the most highly valued and collectable watches in timekeeping history. A Paul Newman Daytona shattered records when it was auctioned back in 2017. 

The history of The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona begins in the late 1950’s. The Daytona International Speedway opened in 1959, and a few years later Rolex was awarded official timekeeper status.

Rolex sponsored the first ever 24 Hour Daytona in 1962 and the Cosmograph Daytona watch was shortly conceived to celebrate the partnership. It was designed specially for professional racers. The tachymeter scale on the bezel is used to measure speed and distance. 

But it was Paul Newman that really catapulted the Daytona to fame. The actor, philanthropist, and IndyCar driver was documented throughout his massively successful career wearing at least six different models.

One being a Rolex Oyster Cosmograph Reference No. 6263 he wore in the 1969 film, Winning. The watch appraised last month on Antiques Roadshow is very similar, with a rare exception.

Why This Rolex Oyster Cosmograph Reference No. 6263 is So Valuable

There are multiple reasons this watch appraised so highly on Antiques Roadshow. Take note if you want an unimaginably high rate of return on a Rolex purchase.

It was basically unworn

Practically unworn Rolex Daytona appraises for $700,000 on Antiques Roadshow
Image via Forbes

The owner said he first noticed Rolex watches when he was stationed in Thailand flying on Continental Airlines. All of the pilots and crew members wore Rolex.

Fast forward a few years, David got into scuba diving while stationed at another base. He knew Rolex watches were good for diving, so he decided to order his own.

Why he chose a Daytona, instead of a watch more suitable for diving, we’ll never know. But hey- it all worked out, because he decided it was too nice to ever touch the saltwater.

Instead, he kept it locked away in a safety deposit box for 40 years. He said he only removed it a few times to look at it, but never actually wore it.

It even has the foil sticker on the back still intact, depicting the reference 6263. That in itself is extremely rare.

Rare Features

Oyster: This model has the word “Oyster” underneath Rolex and above Cosmograph on the dial. That referred to the screw down buttons. The 6263 Reference was actually made with the screw down locking buttons and without.

The watches with the screw down buttons were much more water resistant (and rare) that those without. The similar watch Paul Newman wore in “Winning” didn’t have the screw down button, hence are worth about $150-$200k at auction.

Date of Production: A date mark on the bracelet indicates the watch was made in the first quarter of 1971.

Dial Features: Several dial features make this watch a coveted collector’s item:

  • Art Deco style numerals on the trio of registers
  • Crosshairs on the registers, as well as square ends on the hash marks
  • The subdial at 9 o’clock includes 15, 30, 45, and 60 numerals rather than just the 20, 40, and 60 of standard Daytona dials
  • Panda dial

The appraiser tells the watch owner a watch like his would go for around $400,000 at auction, which is when David collapses in disbelief. But this particular watch is even more valuable.

Has the Original Box and Papers

It’s not often that a pristine, never been worn Paul Newman watch is unearthed. But David kept all the original paperwork and boxes.

His original documentation includes the Rolex Cosmograph brochure, the blank warranty paper, two receipts (one for the order and one for the actual payment), and both the outer box and the watch box.

Just the blank warranty paper alone sometimes sells for upwards of $2,000 because it increases the value of any Rolex watch.

These documents and boxes are all in perfect condition and easily adds on several hundred thousand dollars in value.

Final Thoughts

This was an incredible Antiques Roadshow find. A watch that was less than $400 in the 1970’s appraises for a value between $500,000 to $700,000 dollars!

It’s not only extremely rare, but there’s probably not another Paul Newman Daytona on Earth that’s in this prestigious condition.

We absolutely loved this story, and hope you did too.


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