The sale of the “Paul Newman” Daytona timepiece was more dramatic than the sale of Patek Henry Graves Supercomplication watch. That only happened three years later, but if Daryn Schnipper can say that interest in watches grew exponentially in 2014 compared with 1999, the growth of Paul Newman Daytona watches over the past decade has been anything but exponential.
The Paul Newman Daytona did not have a particularly promising start in life; when they were first produced, in the 1960s and ’70s, they were unpopular with customers and often sold, when they sold at all, at big discounts. It was not until the late 1980s that a small group of Italian and American collectors began to take an interest in these bizarre dial-up Daytona versions.
The difference between the Paul Newman Daytona result and the Graves Supercomp result is intriguing in that the latter sold very much on its character as a best swiss replica watches. In other words, it set the records it set, because it is a piece of horological craft and a representative of old school Genevan watchmaking at the highest possible level.
Moreover, the Graves result naturally raises the question of whether or not a similarly sophisticated fake watch from a manufacturer other than Patek Philippe would have achieved a comparable result. There is no doubt that the fact that the Graves Supercomp is a Patek Philippe watch had something to do with its high auction prices, and the sheer complexity of the watch does not alone explain the high auction results. The horological credentials of the Graves are so perfect, but provenance and history certainly had something to do with the record-setting price. Were it not what it is as a watch, however, it would certainly not have commanded so high a price.
In comparison, one of the most famous aspects of the popularity of the Paul Newman Daytonas, and the avidity with which they are collected, is that from a purely horological standpoint they are fairly uninteresting. Their production is not particularly small; they used a very common, mass-produced movement of goods; they are surpassed in intrinsic horological interest by probably hundreds of thousands of other watches from other makers
However, the appearance of Paul Newman Daytona on sale comes at a time when interest in the watch is higher than ever. It was and is unique. Its impeccable provenance, combined with an unprecedented desire for models and its unique nature, means that when it comes to auctions, the sky is the limit. The combination of a celebrity-owned watch and a model of a watch that can be said to be a modern watch collector led to a price that, in retrospect, should not surprise anyone to see such a wonderful fake.