Paul Newman, Steve McQueen's Watches Set Sales Records at Auction

Lara Dreux | December 14, 2020 | Style & Beauty Celebrity Watches Latest

Steve McQueen Tag Heur Monaco

What would you pay for the chance to wear history? Let the bidding start at $5.5 million.

That's how much one lucky buyer coughed up for Paul Newman's Rolex "Big Red" Daytona. Sold at Phillip's flagship Racing Pulse auction in New York Saturday, Dec. 12, the landmark price marked the third highest for a Rolex at auction ever.

Steve McQueen's Tag Hueur Monaco also fetched a pretty penny. The iconic watch worn by the famous racer in the film Le Mans sold for $2.2 million, once again setting a record as the most expensive Tag Heuer ever sold, clearing ten times its estimated value and doubling the previous record. Tourneau's NYC location had the exclusive on retail preview, giving potential bidders and VIPs the opportunity to experience the watch prior to auction.

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All in all, Racing Pulse fetched $27,584,570, $2.1 million of which is going towards the One Drop Foundation and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation via the collaborative Time Counts initiative. All accumulated net proceeds from the Time Counts charitable initiative will go towards bringing positive changes in water and sanitation sectors and actively working to improve climate resilience for some of the world's most vulnerable communities.

The foundations raised a remarkable $2,107,350 through the sale of 12 lots generously donated by acclaimed celebrities. Among the kind donors were Guy Laliberté, U2 singer Bono, One Drop Foundation founder H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, two former Formula One racing champions, and television personality Kevin O'Leary, aka "Mr. Wonderful."

Notable between the sales, are five lots from Sylvester Stallone's personal collection which also gained enthusiastic bidding across the board. His Panerai Luminor, worn during the filming of Daylight, sold for $214,200. This watch marks the most important modern Panerai wristwatch to ever be sold publicly, leading to Panerai Luminor's contemporary renaissance. His selection of pieces by Richard Mille also soared past estimate, most remarkably the Ref. RM52-01 at $998,000.

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Phillips' Senior Consultant Aurel Bacs commented on the present thriving watch market, partially boosted by Phillip's digital innovations and partially by the international interest and accessibility today's technology is facilitating.

“The market for watches has never been stronger, as evidenced by the tremendous enthusiasm we have seen in Racing Pulse, with registrants across 60 countries vying for these exceptional timepieces," Phillips' Senior Consultant Aurel Bacs says in a press release. "With the digital innovations Phillips has made over the last several months, the auction world has been transformed, as we were able to broadcast our sale to phone bidders in New York and London, as well as online bidders across the globe. Despite all the uncertainty, we witnessed with the events of 2020, the insatiable international demand has led the Phillips Watches team to see our most successful year ever, with an annual total of over $133 million.”


Steve McQueen's Tag Heur Monaco sold for a record $2.2 million at auction.

Paul Newman Rolex
Paul Newman's Rolex "Big Red" Daytona.
Paul Newman

Photography by: Bernard Cahier; Geoffrey Hewitt; Courtesy Phillips