The Paul Newman Daytona Result is a Big Deal
By: Properly Wound Group Member Matthew L. McManus
It is no secret that everything Paul Newman touched seems to have turned to gold, almost literally. The auction world has gone crazy as vintage just-about-everything has become hot and there seems to be a steadily increasing number of M- and B- _illionaires around looking for more toys that can double as investments; but until recently watches seemed a fair bit down the totem pole. Some might even think in their rightful place, as the cost of entry is can be as low as the cost of postage! But to put this auction result into perspective, coming in at a record-breaking $17,752,500 according to The Phillips Auction House, is that the magic touch of “Cool Hand Luke” beats out even the cool of the Le Mans winning 917 of the “King of the Cool” (Steve McQueen) by some margin, the car having been sold for only $14M. (only! For a car that can’t even legally drive on the road!)
A few things have been said about wristwatches vs. cars in the great status symbol debates. “You can’t take your car in with you to the boardroom” is one. But when I explain my eccentric habit of obsesses over time machines, one of my stronger arguments is that telling time is part of a social contract. Cars may be a symbol of freedom, but in some sense a watch is an obligation, even to others. Ball brought safety to the railroads, Omega and Bulova brought astronauts to and from the Moon, and the stories of Rolexes marking history need not be repeated here.
My point is, where time is relative and may not even exist as we conceive it, keeping it accurately is an important social glue that means making it to appointments on time, arriving safely to your destination (whether you are driving or not), or advancing what we DO know about the universe. A great man’s watch, more than his car, often symbolizes his achievements and values. The fact that Paul Newman gave away his speaks volumes about his, and it was little surprise to me this sale broke any watch record there was to break.
The watch industry has been consistently mis-underestimated (thanks, Dubya!), and I think for this very reason that we take time so easily for granted. Whether in the dark days of the quartz crisis or in the very beginnings of wristwatches when “real men kept their watches in their pockets,” attention to detail and the philosophy of time and existence remain core values represented by an affinity for time-telling devices, wrist-borne or otherwise. I have a small suspicion some may agree with me, and I hope to continue the conversation about the Paul Newman Daytona in the Properly Wound Facebook Group or in the comments below!