The History of the Exotic Rolex Paul Newman Dial Designs…

Studying Exotic Rolex Paul Newman Dial Designs…


Updated: After Mr. Paul Newman’s Rolex nicknamed alias “Paul Newman Daytona” sold for nearly $ 18 million at Phillips in New York the awareness for Rolex Paul Newman’s have exploded even further. It has become the must have vintage Rolex and vintage watch in general and prices are exhilarating to peak this upcoming weekend when Phillips will yet again write history with their dedicated Daytona Ultimatum auction. Questions rise why exactly this exotic Rolex dial design made it to the top when other brands have used same elements. In this article I tried to explain you where this Paul Newman dial came from  and why it has so immense populair…


Now what is so striking on a Rolex Paul Newman dial design? For this we need to compare the first Daytona designs with the later Exotic’s. For example here’s one of the very first Daytona Ref 6239 with black “Double Swiss” from 1963 next to a 3 color pump Paul Newman Daytona from 1969. Clearly the Newman design is much more colorful and refined, more “Exotic”…


Original Rolex Catalogue showing the Paul Newman Daytona designs…


Lets go back to the evolution of the Rolex chronograph dial design with following picture I made. We see a very early, square pusher Rolex Chronograph Ref 2508 from the 40-ies with telemeter index on the dial, A Pre-Daytona Ref 6238 with black dial also with the telemeter index much smaller but still on the dial. From the first Ref 6239 design as seen above, the telemeter disappeared from the dial and was clearly printed on the wider bezel to increase visibility…


In below picture you see the obvious differences between a regular Daytona and a Paul Newman, in this the last Oyster Paul Newman version.


  • With the Paul Newman design the outside minute track is contrasting, making the dial at first look smaller but in this case the black bakelite bezel pops out the lay out.
  • Next are the typical lollipop index with square tops printed in the sub-dials making it totally different and much more visible then regular dial.
  • Last difference are the much shorter indexes added on the dial. The Newman’s have square indexes matching the printing in the sub-dials, which marvelously matches in heaven.


Below another clear example between the “Panda” & “Oyster Paul Newman”, both 6263 and completely different. There where the silver soigné Panda Daytona dial is for every Rolex collector a dream, the Oyster Paul Newman is for me personally much more exciting in black and white geometric. Everything is in balance with the Oyster PN, the white hands in the sub-dials, the hands matching the index, the minimum of text on the dial, just perfect!


Below I try to show you the differences of the 2 dial designs. The regular Daytona dial is made like most Chronograph dials where made and thats flat. The Paul Newman dial design has a step on the outside & sub dials and the printing is much more catchy!

From the left to the righ: Panda Big Red 6263, a similar 6265 next to a Oyster Paul Newman 6265. The Newman is much brighter.
For now, lets focus on the Paul Newman dials Rolex ordered with their dial maker Singer. The evolution shows us that at first the pump pusher versions had a 3 color dial, the track printed in red together with the “Daytona” at 6 o’clock. Next to the ref 6239 is the last version of Paul Newman’s, the 6263 Oyster version the difference can’t arguably be bigger. From black & white vs Red.
Below a mix of Pre-Daytona, Panda, Pump & Oyster Newmans. You clearly see the newman dial design is so much different from the rest, it explains me this dial design was specially made, the pump up the disappointing Daytona sale after the Omega MoonWatch hit a huge market on the moon….
The Exotic dials where made separately and send by Rolex to dealers all over the world to mount them in their dead stock. Stories have reached me where initial customers told me they got offered the Paul Newman dial as an extra to choose the Daytona instead of the Submariner or GMT master.
Or isn’t it crazy that the Newman dials have become so much more expensive then a regular Daytona? If you look at it without emotion, the logic will tell you that a Newman Daytona dial is much more rare then a regular Daytona dial. So this makes it more  collectable in the common sense of collecting. It’s hard to say how many Paul Newman dials have been produced but my guess is that 1000-1500 where made in pump version and much less for the Oyster Paul Newman, maybe 2-300.
Below a Tutti Fruti Datona group shot. From 6241 Tiffany over to first generation 6239 Double Swiss Underline to 6264 transitional Paul Newman to 6239 Pump Paul Newman to tropical brown aged 6265 Oyster Daytona to 6263 Oyster Paul Newman…
  • In a total of 9 years ( 1963 – 1972) 14.000 Daytona’s ref 6239 of which estimated  3 % where gold cases ( only 420! )
  • The 6241 was made 2300 in stainless steel and 700 x in gold.
  • From 1965 – 1969 a total of 1700 Oyster Daytona Ref 6240’s have been made.
  • In almost 20 years, the Ref 6263 & 6265 are estimated at 24.000 in steel, less then 10 % in gold cases (<2400! )
  • So in total 16.300 Pump Daytona’s have been ( 6239, 6241, 6262, 6264) made of which 1120 where gold.
  • Totally 25.700 in steel & 2400 in gold Oyster Daytona ( 6240, 6263, 6265) have been made.
Now we know how “limited” the Rolex Daytona production has been, it shows that it never was a real sales succes back in the days and that’s most likely, together with the stunning designs, why this particular sport Role reference is still so immense populair.
Below some very rare special ones Rolex has made. Find below the so far unique Pan Am & Linz Cosmograph…
A minty RCO or Oyster Sotto, which means that the word “Oyster” is added. Here we see the MK1 version. Check out also my article about the “Evolution of Rolex Luminous”…
Back to the title, the Exotic dial, made in the flowerpower 70-ies had a color explosion which was also produced in a much more bright 70-ies style for sister company Tudor. Find below the Exotic Monte Carlo Home Plate design in most common grey, black and  70-ies orange….
Close up of a minty Tudor Ref 7031 Monte Carlo…
And the rare black, grey and orange Tudor Monte Carlo Ref 7032 version.
Later Tudor Exotic designs, here a 7169. See all historical Tudor references on their own website….
Now lets focus on the legendary “Paul Newman” design a bit closer. Here’s a minty close up of a transitional Paul Newman dial for the 6262 & 6264. The closer we get towards the 70-ies the less color the Newman dial gets. The minute track is now white and not red as on previous 6239 & 6241…
Close up from the step in the dial towards the minute track and sub-dials, that are lower under the surface…
First serie black 3 color Paul Newman…
Here the black version of the 6239 & 6241 and in some cases also 6262 & 6264’s..
Note the wider ” T swiss T ” at 6 o’clock… RPR_thumbs-img-85-738
An even wider “T SWISS T” you see on the first serie 18K yellow gold Rolex Paul Newman Daytona with 1.75 million serial ( = 1968)…
Next is a 6264 in 18K yellow gold where the sub dials are printed in more visible white and not gold as above. Handful are known.
And the John Player Special in 18K yellow gold…
Did you ever ask yourself why a Newman dial has a step? I did and I would like to share my thoughts with you. In the 1960’s the important dial maker Singer proposed their clients (Rolex, Tudor, Omega, Universal etc.) their new production techniques and design idea’s because back then the watch brands didn’t entirely produce their own dial like we see now. It’s due to these studies we better understand where the ‘Step’ of the iconic Newman design is coming from.
The easiest solution for Singer was to print the minute-track in a different color, like you see on this 2 color blue Submariner dial and in next pictures of the ‘Non Step’ Yachtmaster & red 15 minutes Newman dial it’s even more obvious. Rolex wanted Singer to come up with something even more special,  more complicated to produce, different then what all other watch brands used, more exclusive with more depth so it was way more special then the regular Rolex Daytona dial, which they hardly sold. The cheapest solution for a watch maker to come up with something new is to change the dial, so this is IMHO why the step dial alias exotic dial / Paul Newman dial was born….
The Neanderthal is als a non step pre Paul Newman design study as you can see below…
And with this photo type Paul Newman dial for steel version you also see no step yet….
All below studies have non step dials. This Paul Newman “lollipop” lay-out was a typical 70-ies design feature which you saw on many other watch brands…
The prototype Yacht Master from Mr. Goldberger below shows you 2 Paul Newman sub-dials and one regular 30 minute counter where Regatta signing has been hand painted…
This “Yacht Master Cosmograph” design was an attempt by Rolex dial maker Singer’s design department trying to step into a new customer friendly direction with the race track marketed chronograph. The later oil crisis changed a lot in the design of the Daytona. After reinventing itself again, Rolex updated their Cosmograph Daytona with an waterproof version Ref 6263/6265 which became developed 6240 pushers and enhanced movement.
Below the Yacht Master prototype next the stunning Cosmograph blue & black proto from 1968. Note the 3 o’clock printing is the same on both models…
Now look closely, you will be surprised about the sub-dials printed in paul newman kind of Vulcain…
Rolex wasn’t the only client of the Singer factory. As being the leader in the market, for other dial makers they copied their design and the typical Paul Newman Sub dials we see with many more brands. I found some examples on IG which I like to share so you understand the way dials got designed in the 70-ies.
Digging little deeper into the 70-ies dial design you will find further more clues of the exotic lollipop design, like in below Bulova…
Often when I start investigating I stumble upon more questions then answers. For instance now why would Singer have used for some brand the identical font and lay out in their design and for others not? For the Candino below the dial maker adapted the exact Rolex Paul Newman sub-dial design into their lay out….
As above with the Candino, for below Nivada they have been using same font and Paul Newman kind of lay out…
Or only the seconds sub dial in PN design. Obviously dial designers where mixing their design with other brands. Remember there was no copy past computers back in the days, all had to be done by hand…
Even for Longines the Exotic dial design was used. Not precisely the same as with Rolex as the font is slightly different but clearly design wise it’s very close to what Singer used at Rolex…
And in 2 different serie, red & orange 😉
And another Longines Paul Newman 😉
Update 30-08-2017: I always get a lot of reactions after I post a new article. One of the guys send me these pictures of a loose Longines dial with PN style sub dials. Although the graphics are not the same as with Rolex it’s very obvious that the dial maker Singer used the same idea for different brands in their design…
What do we learn from this? Apparently the designer responsible at Singer used different graphic styles. Just to be 100% clear the picture below shows us exactly the same Singer stamp we see with Rolex on the backside of this Longines dial…
Next Lip made different series with PN sub dials. Here the Singer designer used the same font as with Rolex here...
This french brand as well, same Rolex font
Even Bucherer copied the PN sub dial design in theirs…
Or this Wyler…
The more examples you see the more it looks like the graphics of the Paul Newman sub dials doesn’t match the rest, which most logically had already been printed. The sub dials had all kinds of different functions like back in the days you where having a phone call in sessions, you see dials having longer markers. Sometimes for yachting purpose a section was printed red on the dial as you see below. This example below is one of the view I came across where the font on the minute track is the same as in the sub-dials…
For Rolex Singer also made a prototype dial design based on the Paul Newman having the red counter in the 3 o’clock sub dial. Here this design study dial which is not born in a Rolex and not all prototype dials went into production but it’s up to the owner what he wants to do with it, for me personally the most logic place where it should be preserved is in this a period correct gold Daytona case…RPR_IMG_9288
Nivada had a whole collection of Paul Newman rip off’s…
RPR_IMG_9676 RPR_IMG_9677
For Nivada the designers liked to copy idea’s. Paul Newman Sub dials & red depth rating 66-0FT= 200m, LOL 😉
With this Luccard it almost looks like the PN sub dial print is too big for it’s counters. Does this mean there was a cliche that printed the sub-dials in Paul Newman design?? Note also the “Yachtmaster” kind of regatta signing at 3 o’clock sub dial…
Then we see another Yacht Master design study for Rolex made by Singer, which never went into production…
Somehow for Longines they ‘borrowed’ the design idea and used it in one of their chrono’s as you see below…
Apropos handmade, this american lady below is making little marvels after spending hundreds of hours painting a Paul Newman Daytona
Below, a gold Paul Newman design next to a Singer Prototype Chronograph version from their 1968 design catalogue for Rolex. Honestly Rolex would still do very well when they would bring a elegant chronograph as proto below next to their Daytona…
Marvelous couple of Daytona’s: The Albino Oyster Daytona on the left and a tropical brown RCO Oyster Paul Newman…
Handfull of rarities, the left and middle didn’t make it into production there where the right Albino was made in very small quantity, this Albino is different then the one I showed you earlier, this one below from Pucci Papaleo has red Daytona and is a pump version and not a later Oyster as show above…
Below a exotic design that also made it into production for Japanese market in small numbers…
The typical “Piano” minute track we see with many more Singer prototypes up close…
This Exotic design that went into production was apparently cool enough, there where below design study it never made till production…
This wonderful prototype version also didn’t got Rolex preference back in the days…
I hope you learned a bit about the Exotic 70-ies dial design in this post. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me by using the “CONTACT” button up in your screen.  Always believe what your own eyes see, have fun collecting and enjoy your beauties!
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