It is well known that Joanne Woodward had purchased the watch for her husband at Tiffany. A Rolex Chronograph perfect for timing laps was, after all, the perfect timepiece to complement her husband's love of auto racing. Adding to the Rolex's astounding appeal, the watch's caseback comes engraved with the phrase "Drive Carefully Me," as any worried wife might lovingly and thoughtfully add.
This particular model is from 1963, Reference 6239, which was only produced for a very short period of time. Contributing to the celebrity factor is the perfect storm of scarcity and contemporary style that was way ahead of its time. Only 2,000-3,000 were made with the unmistakeable white dial, along with black subdials with a red "Daytona" and counters on the outer ring. The watch now falls into the hands of Phillips Auction House, holder of many world-record watch sales, now with the duty of selling one of the most famous Rolexes of them all.
Going on sale October 26 at the first Phillips watch auction to be held in New York, the Geneva-based auction house expects bidding to exceed $1 million, with the Nell Newman Foundation to receive a percentage of the sale. A rare yellow gold Oyster Paul Newman Daytona recently came under the hammer at Phillips for a record-breaking $3,717,906 USD. And that one pales in comparison to the history and provenance of this particular model.