Stan Barrett was a legendary stuntman back in the heyday of Hollywood film, appearing alongside some of the industry’s biggest stars like Burt Reynolds and Dustin Hoffman. But it was his work – and 40-year-long friendship – with the king of cool, Paul Newman, that is most notable. For during his tenure with the movie star, the two formed a great friendship, spending time together on and off set, sharing a passion for cars and racing, and of course, watches.
Being such a fond friend of Paul Newman, Barrett was gifted two Rolexes by the late actor in appreciation of the work they did together – as well as Barrett’s feat in attempting to break the harrowing land speed record, and the sound barrier, in the Budweiser Rocket car. These two watches (as pictured below) happen to be a Rolex GMT Master “Pepsi” and a stainless-steel Daytona Ref. 6262 (Newman’s own Daytona 6239 broke the world record for a wristwatch at auction, selling for US$17 million in 2017).
Barrett can be seen wearing both watches on his wrist as he was clocked going 739.66mph in the modified vehicle in 1979. Newman later had the GMT’s case back engraved with the inscription, “Stan Barrett 739 MPH Mach 1.0206 12-17-79″ to celebrate his friend’s achievement.
Now, Barrett is working with famed auction house Sotheby’s to auction off three vintage ‘grail’ Rolex timepieces, including the two Newman gifted Barrett, and one yellow gold GMT Ref. 1675, that was given to Barrett by Anheuser-Busch CEO August Busch, whose company sponsored Barrret’s record attempt.
Because of the significance of these three vintage Rolexes – and how they were acquired – it is presumed that they will fetch a hefty sum at auction. Sotheby’s has estimated that the GMT “Pepsi” could sell between US$50,000 to US$100,000, while the Daytona could easily fetch anywhere from US$300,000 to US$500,000.
But knowing what we know, watch collectors love a Paul Newman-related timepiece, so we wouldn’t be surprised if these pieces reach even higher sums.
“These three watches – personal gifts between friends and colleagues – carry more historical significance than just their benefactors,” says Jonathon Burford, Sotheby’s Watches Specialist.
“Inextricably linked to a feat of human exploration, they represent a slice of American history itself and will no doubt appeal to watch connoisseurs and racing enthusiasts alike.”
The Sotheby’s auction will officially take place on December 9 as part of an “Important Watches” sale in New York City. Before they hit the auction stand, the three pieces will be on display at Monterey Car Week from August 17 – 20, before making stops in Dubai, Hong Kong and Los Angeles.
In other auction news, Michael Jordan’s 1998 NBA finals jersey is up for auction, with experts saying it could fetch up to US$5 million.