Complete review of Rolex Daytona 6239 Paul Newman

Today, we've decided to showcase one of the most legendary references in the history of modern watchmaking. Our aim is not to provide a detailed technical review of the watch, but rather to offer a clear overview of its features and differences from its predecessors and successors. For additional information, we suggest reading this article in conjunction with our complete review of the Daytona saga.. You can also check out our complete article about how to identify a genuine Paul Newman dial

The history of the model:

Introduced around 1964, the reference 6239 is part of the famous Daytona "4 digits" series. It is an evolution of the renowned ref. 6238, also known as the Pre-Daytona. The original 6238 was equipped with non-waterproof 24-P3 pump pushers, which were the first generation of chronograph pushers (as opposed to the screwed pushers that would first be used on the 6240).

The watch features an Oyster Twinlock 600 Series crown, which would go on to be used in numerous later references

The Caliber:

The reference 6239 was equipped with the Valjoux 72B movement from around 1963 to 1965 and the Caliber 722 from around 1965 to 1967. The Caliber 722-1 was used during the last two years of production.

Like all 4-digit Daytonas, the reference 6239 is a manual-wind watch. It wasn't until the famous 16520, equipped with Zenith's El Primero movement, that an automatic chronograph was introduced to the Rolex Daytona.

Image of a Valjoux 722 movement modified by Rolex

The Exotic or "Paul Newman" Dial:

The dial commonly referred to as the Paul Newman (originally called an exotic dial, which is distinct from the two classic versions, the silver dial and the black dial) is characterized by the presence of indices within its sub-dials. This type of dial is known as the "Exotic Dial", "Tropical Dial" (not to be confused with a dial with the tropical patina), or more commonly, the "Paul Newman Dial".

Excerpt from a 1969 Rolex catalog
Dial face
Zoom on the dial
Back of the dial made by Singer

According to legend, the Rolex company opted to make this subtle change to its dials as a way to revitalize sales of its Daytona chronographs (which back then, could sit in display cases for years before finally being sold!)

Excerpt from a 1960s catalog showcasing various exotic dial versions.

As we can observe, the reference 6239 was launched at the same time as the reference 6241. The sole distinction between these two versions is the tachymeter bezel, crafted from steel for the 6239 and bakelite for the 6241.

The reference 6239 hit the market around 1964, available in steel, 14K gold, and 18K gold, much like most Daytonas from that time period.

Why the name "Paul Newman"?

The iconic chronograph, reference 6239, is THE Paul Newman edition that collectors covet.

Paul Newman was well-known for his love of Rolex Daytonas, owning multiple references himself. During his prime, the actor was often photographed sporting a Rolex Daytona 6239 with an exotic dial...

The very timepiece worn by Paul Newman himself was sold by the Phillips auction house in New York for a record-breaking $17 million in 2017.

Paul Newman's personal timepiece sold at auction on October 26th, 2017, by Phillips auction house.

Being a present from his wife, the case back of the watch gifted to him showcases a special engraving.


Image of the 6239 once owned by Paul Newman, fitted with a strap from our friends at L'Atelier du Bracelet Parisien!

The Case Back:

The case back includes various engravings on its reverse side.

Given that Rolex is an industrial manufacturing company, it's entirely possible for a case back to be engraved with a reference other than 6239, in line with cost-cutting measures and optimizing existing stock.

The C.R.S inscription is arbitrary and represents Charles René Spielman, the supplier of this specific part.

The Bracelet:

The reference 6239 features the famous "Oyster" bracelet. Back then, Oyster bracelets could either be riveted (particularly in the American market) or folded beginning in 1968.

The bracelet measures 19mm in diameter, as opposed to the 20mm diameter found on Submariners and GMTs of that time. The bracelets are not interchangeable, and the 4-digit Daytona bracelet maintains a sporty yet elegant look with its modest size and brushed-polished links.

The watch was also released with a leather strap and famously worn by Paul Newman with an American-style buckle, which sparked a trend and, in a way, immortalized the model.

Illustration of the 6239 with an American-style buckle strap

We're incredibly proud to showcase this iconic model in all its splendor. Feel free to reach out to us for an evaluation of your collectible timepiece or to chat about your upcoming watch investment. We'd be more than happy to help you find the perfect piece.

By Clément C.

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