The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is among the most appreciated and recognized chronograph models by any manufacturer. When it comes fitted with the rare “exotic” or so-called “Paul Newman” dial, its rarity, aesthetic appeal, and collectability are profoundly increased. This dial, distinguished by the three dimensional construction – with sunken subsidiary dials and sunken outer chapter ring – was an alternative dial offered to clients at the time. Ironically, this variation was not appreciated by the market at the time of its production. It took decades for collectors to prize this "exotic" dial variation. Paul Newman himself wore a reference 6239 with this dial, reportedly a gift from his wife, and he used it in particular for his racing career.
The present example is an early version of the Paul Newman dial, correct for the 2 million case number of this timepiece. It is distinguished by the “T SWISS T” designation presenting taller letters in the center and shorter at the ends. It is also notable for its remarkable provenance.
Property of Garth S. Estadt
Upon his graduation from United States Military Academy in West Point, New York in 1988, Garth Estadt’s mother presented him with three objects that were prized possessions of his late father: his .45 caliber gun, Randall knife, and Rolex watch. The watch was the present Rolex Daytona reference 6239 with exotic or “Paul Newman” dial and would go on to faithfully accompany Garth on missions around the world.
Garth Estadt is one of only eight individuals to ever letter for Army as a varsity football player, graduate from the United States Military Academy, and then become a Green Beret - a member of the United States Army Special Forces. Garth’s career in the military brought him to places of conflict and turmoil around the world, and this Rolex “Paul Newman” Daytona accompanied him along the way, doing high altitude – low opening (HALO) jumps at 18,500 feet to peacekeeping in Haiti, as well as other more discreet missions around the world.
Beyond the cool aesthetics or the fact that it was his late father’s watch, Garth particularly appreciated wearing it as many of his fellow Green Berets also wore Rolex watches, both for their durability and for the fact that they would have them to barter if ever in a difficult, life-threatening situation. However, it seems quite unlikely that many, or even any, of his colleagues in the Special Forces had a vintage “Paul Newman” Daytona like this one.
For his service, Garth received 5 Army Commendation Medals, 2 Army Achievement Medals, an Army Superior Unit Award, an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, a Humanitarian Service Medal, a National Defense Ribbon, an Armed Services Ribbon, an Overseas Ribbon, and a UN Medal for Haiti. He was also awarded the Special Forces Tab, the Military Freefall Badge, the Expert Infantry Badge, the Parachutist Badge, and the British Parachutist Badge. Additionally, he was qualified to speak French, Greek, and Haitian Creole.
Garth continued to wear this Rolex after the conclusion of his military career, including on the 2002 television show “Combat Missions” on USA Network. Garth has also been a guest on “Good Morning America” on ABC, Geraldo Rivera’s show on Fox News, and Debra Norville Tonight on MSNBC.
Only recently did Garth learn this Rolex watch was worth significantly more than he imagined and rather than put it away in a safe, he hopes the next owner might continue adding to the watch’s rich history.