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Stuntman Stan Barrett’s Rolexes to Go on Auction Block

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Anthony DeMarco • 23-08-2022

Sotheby’s will auction three vintage Rolex watches owned by stuntman Stan Barrett at its next timepiece sale in New York.

Barrett’s colorful life has also included stints as a boxing champion and NASCAR driver, yet it was his Hollywood career that cemented a lifelong friendship with Paul Newman, the most famous owner of Rolex watches. The three pieces will headline the auction house’s Important Watches sale on December 9, it said earlier this month.

Newman gave him two of the Rolexes — a stainless-steel GMT-Master Pepsi and a stainless-steel Ref. 6262 Daytona. Barrett, who is now 79 years old, wore both watches while attempting to become the first person to break the speed of sound on land in 1979. His ride in a rocket car was estimated at 739.66 miles per hour, just beyond the speed of sound. However, the radar malfunctioned, and he drove his car across the lake bed at California’s Edwards Air Force Base once, instead of twice, as official guidelines required. In addition, no one at the event heard the sonic boom that should have occurred if the car exceeded the speed of sound.

None of this stopped the players involved from celebrating the disputed achievement. Newman had the case back of the GMT watch engraved, with the inscription on the back reading “Stan Barrett 739 MPH Mach 1.0206 12-17-79.”

A third Rolex, a yellow gold GMT Ref. 1675, was given to him by August Busch, CEO of Anheuser-Busch, the main sponsor of the “Project Speed of Sound” event. It has the engraving “Stan Barrett — Driver — Budweiser Rocket Car 739.66MPH December 17 1979.”

Among watch collectors, legend often trumps reality, so Rolex watches gifted by Paul Newman and worn while possibly breaking the speed of sound have the potential to be an intriguing proposition for collectors.

The stainless-steel Ref. 6262 Daytona is the top lot of the group, with an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000; the stainless-steel GMT-Master Pepsi with its iconic red and blue bezel is expected to fetch up to $100,000; and the yellow gold GMT Ref. 1675 is in the $50,000 to $100,000 range.

Image: A Rolex Reference 1675 GMT-Master. (Sotheby’s)

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