When it comes to sensational watches, it turns out Paul Newman, Mr. Hollywood Legend, is my timepiece doppelgänger. An upcoming Sotheby’s event is cause for a timely comparison.
Paul Newman and I have a lot in common.
Newman is a legend, an iconic figure in Hollywood history, an Academy Award-winning actor, acclaimed director, and noted philanthropist who helped define the male lead in motion pictures from the mid-1950s through the 21st century.
And I … am none of that. Although I did have the lead role in a high school production of “The Elves and The Shoemaker.” The PTO newsletter called it “riveting.”
Newman was also famously handsome, with piercing, baby-blue eyes. Mine are brown.
But none of that matters. What really connects us is that Newman and I both have had cool watches in our lives.
His cool watch was a Rolex Daytona. It sold for $17.8 million at auction in 2017, the most of any watch in history. My cool watch? I still have it in my top dresser drawer. It’s in a box. With my name on it. Written in Magic Marker by my mom. Fifty years ago.
OK, so Newman’s Rolex Daytona, the most prized watch in the world, is slightly more “valuable” than the Timex I got from my parents when, against all odds, I graduated from eighth grade. I’ll grant him that. But the box with my name on it in black Magic Marker? It’s lined with a deep purple velvet. It’s plush.
In the right lighting – dark – you could even call the box luxurious. And if you do call the box luxurious, well then, I just might be underestimating the value of the total watch package.
Just like my watch, Newman’s has sentimental value. His 1968 model Rolex was a gift from Joanne Woodward, his wife of 50 years, when the actor got hooked on racing cars. Today, a Rolex Daytona will set you back at least $30,000. But the models of the ’60s and ’70s cost about $250. They were little more than timekeepers for gear heads like Newman, featuring a built-in stopwatch for timing laps and a tachymeter for calculating speed.
Much like my watch box, Newman’s Rolex Daytona has writing on it, albeit not in black Magic Marker. Engraved on the back of his watch was a message from his wife: “Drive Carefully Me.”
Newman’s watch has been hailed as “legendary” and “rare” and “amazing.”
My watch has been hailed as “nice.”
To be fair, what really sets my vintage Timex apart from other watches of the era is its wide, so-ugly-it’s-cool, 1970s “genuine leather” watchband. The band is blue, a color you don’t often see in the genuine leather watchband world. What’s more, the watchband has a gold buckle, which probably isn’t made of “real” gold. Of course, I’m no precious metals expert, so I could be mistaken.
Anyway, I still have my watch and Paul Newman, my timepiece doppelgänger, does not. And that’s the point. I’m holding on to my Timex until the market is just right to sell, which could be this summer.
Here’s the thing: Sotheby’s recently announced that in June it would auction off 300 items from the life of Newman and Woodward.
The series of sales will include such things as shackles from the film “Cool Hand Luke”; a script from the 1963 comedy “A New Kind of Love”; and the wedding dress that Woodward wore the day the couple married in 1958.
Newman died in 2008 at the age of 83. Woodward, 93, a terrific talent in her own right, has kept a private life since she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2007.
The Sotheby’s sales promise to offer a rare window into the personal and professional lives of the famed couple, dedicated philanthropists, and darn good salad dressing makers.
The auctions will have everything: film and entertainment memorabilia, autographed scripts, awards, movie props and wardrobe.
One thing the Sotheby’s sales likely won’t include? A classic Timex with a genuine leather watchband.
I’m holding onto this blue-banded beauty just a little bit longer. Of course, if Sotheby’s does come calling, groveling, looking for the perfect timeless treasure to put the Newman event over the top, I’ll have to listen.
It’s the least I can do for a fellow Paul.
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