The Paul Newman Daytona Rolex Is So Famous There’s Now a Song About It

Brett Dennen's new tune was inspired by a certain watch appraisal on "Antiques Roadshow"

An image of an illustrated Rolex Daytona watch from Brett Dennen's lyric video for the song "Paul Newman Daytona Rolex" from the album "See the World"
An image from Brett Dennen's lyric video for the song "Paul Newman Daytona Rolex."
Screenshot via Brett Dennen on YouTube

Watches and pop culture go hand in hand. They star in movies, they pair well with video game characters and every so often they can even eclipse the celebrities who wear them. But apart from high-priced pieces being namechecked in rap lyrics, I couldn’t name an actual watch song off the top of my head — until Brett Dennen came along.

If you’ve never heard Dennen’s name before, he’s a folksy singer-songwriter from California who’s been kicking around for quite a while, with his first, self-titled studio album released back in 2004, and his seventh, called See the World, just released this summer. There’s plenty worth checking out on the new 10-song release, but one track in particular caught the eye (or ear) of watch blog Hodinkee: “Paul Newman Daytona Rolex.” 

What is a song about one of the most famous watches in the world doing amongst tracks like “Kumbaya, Life Rolls On” and “Not A Free Country”? Hodinkee reached out to Dennen and got the full story behind the catchy, unexpected tune, which all started with an episode of what we can only assume is the TV show of choice for touring musicians, Antiques Roadshow

“There was an episode where a man came in. He was a pilot in the ’70s with a good look and a cool shirt on. He said he bought this watch in the ’70s for a few hundred dollars when he was a pilot because it was the Daytona model and all the pilots were buying Daytona model Rolex watches,” Dennen told Hodinkee. The $543 watch ended up being appraised for $100,000. 

“I thought that was phenomenal,” he said, adding, “Could this be a song? How could I write a song about this?” 

Here’s the original clip from the show, which isn’t even the most famous appearance of a Paul Newman. The rest of the story involves inspiration from a certain Paul Simon song and putting the track away for a while to discover the real meaning, beyond just the watch. 

Not that the Paul Newman Daytona Rolex is just a watch. In fact, Paul Newman’s own Paul Newman became the most expensive wristwatch ever sold at auction when it went up for sale in 2017 (though it has since been eclipsed by a Patek Philippe). 

If you can’t afford one of these coveted models, maybe take solace in the fact that Dennen hasn’t been able to get one either. At least now we have his song to comfort us, and the rest of the album ain’t bad either.

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