How a Singaporean collector’s rare Paul Newman Rolex Daytona watch got a cameo in ‘Crazy Rich Asians’

Photos: Facebook; Instagram
Photos: Facebook; Instagram

As much as there were flaws in the film adaptation of Crazy Rich Asians, one thing you can’t argue is how the flick brings the opulent razzle-dazzle of obscene wealth to life on the silver screen.

The attention to detail wasn’t spared, even for the smaller moments in the grandiose rom-com. For one scene in particular, Crazy Rich Asians author Kevin Kwan sought out a real-life lavish watch to be used as a gift by Astrid Leong (played by Gemma Chan) to her husband Michael Teo (our own Pierre Png). That watch, as Galerie Magazine found out, ended up to be a rare, highly-coveted “Paul Newman” Rolex Daytona, which belongs to a collector in Singapore.

The search for the right watch began in May 2017, when Eric Wind, a watch specialist at British auction house Christie’s, received an email from Kwan himself. According to Wind, Kwan wanted a watch “that would impress even watch collectors”, and the specialist only had 48 hours to hunt it down, Galerie reported.

After much calls to collectors in Asia, Wind finally tracked down a collector in Singapore who recently bought a version of the original timepiece owned by the late cinema legend. Of course, there was no way the original Rolex Daytona owned and worn by Newman was ever going to be loaned out. The watch — long considered as the Holy Grail among watch collectors — was sold off last year at a record high of US$17.8 million.

The one that did end up on Crazy Rich Asians however, is a US$700,000 MK1.5 Oyster Newman (Reference 6263) that belongs to Eric Ku — a veteran vintage Rolex dealer and the owner of VintageRolexForum. Turns out, Ku’s wife is a fan of the book, and the collector “saw it as an honor” to have his watch featured in its film adaptation.

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