Rolex Daytona 6264 'Paul Newman'

Museum Piece
If there’s any single watch that’s a symbol for the vintage watch craze of the recent few years, it is without a doubt the iconic ‘Paul Newman’ Daytona.


If there’s any single watch that’s a symbol for the vintage watch craze of the recent few years, it is without a doubt the iconic ‘Paul Newman’ Daytona.

The Rolex Daytona was a tough sell for the first three decades of its existence. There are different factors that played into the model’s lackluster sales, but the fact that it housed a non-automatic movement that Rolex did not produce in-house surely played an important role. As a result, these models languished in dealer displays for years. But even among the Daytonas there was a hierarchy, with most customers preferring the toned-down versions to the colorful ‘Paul Newman’ dial variation (officially called the 'exotic dial' by Rolex).

As these vintage Daytonas gained popularity among ever-stylish Italian collectors and dealers in the late 1980s and 1990s, the ‘Paul Newman’ dial stood out, especially, because of its funky looks and its connection to the legendary actor who was known for wearing a Daytona with an exotic dial. And as relatively few of these models had sold prior, they were quite rare as well. In other words, the perfect recipe for a vintage icon.

Nowadays, the ‘Paul Newman’ Daytona is the quintessential collectible vintage Rolex, with rare sub-variations (such as the ‘Oyster Sotto’ ‘Paul Newman’) fetching well over a million dollars at auction. When the long-last watch that was owned by the iconic actor surfaced in 2017 at a Phillips auction, it set the watch world ablaze and the watch eventually sold for a whopping US$ 17,752,500. Thankfully, there are still affordable ‘Paul Newman’ Daytonas to be had. Well, relatively speaking at least.

This 6264 Daytona with ‘Paul Newman’ dial from 1970 is a wonderful example. The reference 6264 is an important reference among vintage Daytonas as it was only produced for approximately one or two years and introduced the upgraded high-beat Valjoux 727 manual-winding chronograph caliber into the Daytona line. Aside from that, the 6264 is housed in the iconic 37 mm stainless steel Oyster case with a black acrylic bezel inlay and pump-style chronograph pushers.

The iconic ‘Paul Newman’ dial on this watch, manufactured for Rolex by Singer, is executed in the reverse panda configuration with a black background and white sub-registers. A few characteristics make the dial configuration so loved among collectors, including the contrasting recessed outer seconds track, the square applied hour markers, and the iconic sub-registers with Art Deco font and square hash marks. We think you should know that the sub-registers have some damages, which are clearly illustrated in the pictures.

This watch is in all original condition and comes on an original 19mm folded stainless steel Oyster bracelet with the correct Daytona-specific end links.

Rolex started making chronographs in the 1930s, but it was only in 1963 that a named product line was introduced: the Cosmograph. In some early advertisements, Rolex referred to the watch as the ‘Le Mans’ after the famous race track in France, although the name never appeared on the dial. After a few years, the line was officially renamed Cosmograph Daytona, after the racetrack in Florida. The most noticeable difference between these Cosmograph (Daytona) models and earlier Rolex chronographs was the tachymeter scale (used for measuring distance and speed) that was moved from its traditional placement on the dial to the bezel. Furthermore, the dial was updated with the introduction of contrasting sub-dials. It's hard to imagine now, but Daytonas received little love after their release. Most Daytonas languished in dealer displays for years and only started to get noticed by Italian collectors and dealers in the late 1980s. Nowadays, Daytonas are among the most sought after Rolex models, fetching prices from $20,000 for modern ones to many millions for rare vintage references. A big contrast with the $210 list price when it was first released!