Stuntmen and famous actors driving fast cars, auctioning off personal sports Rolexes—and getting huge returns—remind us of the true strength of the brand.
By Danny Crivello for Rolex Magazine, Wednesday, August 17, 2002
A 79-year-old gentleman named Stan Barrett will have three Rolex watches on display in Monterey, Calif., this week in preparation for auction. And this is why it’s notable: Mr. Barrett is a former boxing champion turned leading Hollywood stuntman for the likes of Paul Newman, Burt Reynolds and Dustin Hoffman.
He was also an established NASCAR driver who piloted the Budweiser rocket car in 1979 on his quest to become the first man to travel faster than the speed of sound on land. Anheuser-Busch gifted him a yellow gold Rolex GMT-Master 1675 for his trouble.
The other two Rolex watches that will be displayed starting Wednesday — a steel GMT Pepsi and a steel Daytona 6262 — were gifted to Mr. Barrett by Hollywood legend Paul Newman whose own Daytona 6239 broke the world record for a wristwatch at auction, selling for $17 million.
Mr. Barrett, who worked as Mr. Newman’s stunt double in many of the actor’s most famous films, shared a love of cars and watches that would glue the two together for the duration of their 40-year friendship.
Stuntmen and famous actors driving fast cars, auctioning off personal Rolexes and getting 10X, 100X, 1000X returns remind us of the true strength of the brand. And because that publicity is made organically, it easily surpasses brand ambassadors’ Insta posts.
Shortly after Newman’s high-profile 6239 auction, in a 2017 podcast, I said such an auction was “great for the buyer, great for the charity, great for Rolex, great for the vintage world in general for the publicity it received. It was great for all the owners of mechanical watches in a world of updates and throwaway and always getting the new iPhone or Apple Watch … Some things just last for a long time. For a lifetime.” Little did I know how much the Rolex market would explode that following year emptying Rolex cases at ADs the world over.
The December auction of Mr. Barrett’s Rolexes — two gifted by Mr. Newman — will be a much-needed shot in the arm for the watch industry though in a smaller measure compared to record-setting Newman’s 6239. But let’s remind ourselves that $17 million Daytona had been a gift also: from Mr. Newman to his daughter’s boyfriend, James Cox.
In the next two images taken at the same event, we see Stan Barrett and Paul Newman sharing some smiles.