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Watches

The Rolex Daytona and the Monaco Grand Prix, Two Icons of Racing History

By Jessica Diamond

W ith the Monaco Grand Prix, widely regarded as the most iconic driving circuit in the world, celebrating its 90th anniversary this weekend, we look at another icon of racing history, the Rolex Daytona, considered the greatest driving watch ever made.

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ROLEX | Daytona, Ref 6265 A Stainless Steel Chronograph Wristwatch with Bracelet 1979. Estimate $60,000-80,000. Photography: Justin Morton. JUSTIN MORTON

The Daytona was launched in 1963 and was named after the American race which it sponsored. While its popularity took a while to take off forcing Rolex to limit production (making those early models even more covetable), it was the wrist of one Paul Newman that gave the watch its much needed boost.

Paul Newman, tried to remain inconspicuous in the audience a
Paul Newman in the audience at Madison Square Garden, circa 2002. (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images) New York Daily News Archive/NY Daily News via Getty Images

Newman, Hollywood actor and now racing car driver was gifted one by his wife Joanne Woodward – the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Reference 6239 – with the message ‘Drive Carefully Me’ engraved on the case back. Regularly seen wearing a Daytona in the 1970s while competing in races such as Le Mans 24 Hours, this heady mix of Hollywood A-list and motor-racing helped catapult the watch to the top of many a wish-list.

Undergoing various iterations over the decades, including an automatic movement introduced in 1988 and an in-house movement in 2000, its aesthetics remain largely unchanged with its distinctive 3 chronograph sub-dials and graphic art deco-esque styling.

MAIN IMAGE: THE MONACO STREET CIRCUIT BY NIGHT, AHEAD OF THE MONACO FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX. (PHOTO ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

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