Who Won Paul Newman’s Paul Newman Rolex Daytona? | The Most Expensive Rolex Ever Sold 2017

After all the media coverage about Philip's watch auction 2017's lot 8, we know the final price the famous Rolex sold for, but left guessing who the new owner is

The dust has finally settled after the historical auction of Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona. And the question on everybody’s mind is “who is the new owner of the legendary watch that broke the internet”. Here are some of our thoughts about the auction, possible owners, and what the future holds for vintage watches.

How much did Paul Newman’s Daytona Sell For?

Philip's Watch Auction 2017 - Rolex Paul Newman's Daytona Sold

The winning bid of $15,500,000 came in from a verified phone bidder and final price of the phenomenal watch was $17,752,500 including premiums. After watching the entire auction of lot 8 multiple times, all we have to say is that Aurel Bacs is an incredible auctioneer and sales person. If it were not for him, the watch would probably have been sold for possibly 2 million dollars less. It would also have been awesome to see some bids from the people present at the auction, but that was probably made less possible by the 1st bid coming in at 10 million dollars. But it was no surprise that the winner came from a phone bidder, mainly for the anonymity that comes with this form of bidding.

Who is the New Owner?

Claude Sfeir - Lebanese watch collector not the winner

Unfortunately, the watch community has to keep guessing who the winner of lot 8 is, as it seems the owner has probably chosen to remain anonymous, so apart from Phillips auction house and a few insiders, the owner will stay unknown until he or she decides to put the watch up for sale, and we think that shunning the spotlight is probably a wise choice:

  • New owner does not have to deal with unwanted pressure of selling the watch or request by scholars to see the watch
  • Safety reasons – keeping malicious intentions at bay
  • Mystery is often synonymous with higher prices – by keeping away from the public eye, when the hype settles, it is easy to build up the hype again by coming out of the shadows and re-draw attention to the watch which will allow the owner to gain a greater return of investment

The fascinating thing about this auction is that this timepiece transcends the watch collecting community. It is a memorabilia sought after by racing, pop culture communities, making it harder to narrow down the search for the new owner of this watch, and it is an understatement that the enigmatic new owner is anything short of a hundred millionaire. Prior to the sale, people have guessed that the new owner would be big time collector, Claude Sfeir, however unlike most of the other times he has walked away with auction star pieces, this time he did not.

Significance This Sale Has on Future Prices of Timepieces

Art auction prices vs Watch Auction Prices

According to Aurel Bacs, the watch market is still young – compared to impressionist paintings which have been collected for centuries, watches have only been auctioned for about 40 years. Christie's art auction turnover was announced at 5.8 billion for 2013 which dwarfs the Christie's watch auction of 130 million (2013). The results of this auction serves to show that watch prices are far from the bubble, if there is even one. With the presence of social media like Instagram and more websites providing information on watch collecting like Hodinkee, thousands of new watch collectors are joining the community every month with many interested in vintage. By extrapolation of prices, it will not be surprising that the Paul Newman’s watch sells for double what it was sold for in the next decade. As much as we do not believe in buying watches as an investment, it is undeniable that this could be a separate asset class, in particular one of a kind high end vintage watches. It makes us incredibly worried and excited what the future holds for vintage watches, worried that more pieces become unattainable and out of reach but at the same time, and excited at the rate the vintage watch community is growing, especially in this day and age where the newest is the coolest. We can only imagine what the future holds for vintage watches.

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