The world's most valuable celebrity watches



2017-10-27 13:18:22

For some collectors, watches owned by famous figures are the ultimate prize.

Many of these timepieces were already rare and valuable in their own right - but the added celebrity provenance sent their values soaring into the stratosphere.

Here are some of the world's most valuable celebrity-worn watches, from stars of the silver screen to leaders who helped change human history forever.

Marilyn Monroe's Blancpain wristwatch - $225,000

(Image: Julien

(Image: Julien's Auctions)

Despite being one of the world's most glamorous women, Marilyn Monroe famously didn't own a lot of jewelry – preferring to wear costume pieces to the real thing.

However, amongst her few genuine accessories was this Blancpain platinum Art Deco cocktail watch, set with round cut and marquise diamonds.

The watch hit the auction block at Julien's in November 2016, where it sold for $225,000, more than doubling its top estimate.

The winning bid was placed by Blancpain itself, and the watch currently resides in the Swiss manufacturer's permanent museum collection.

Daniel Craig’s James Bond Omega Seamaster wristwatch - $254,270

(Image: Christie

(Image: Christie's)

Although the character of James Bond famously wore Rolex watches for decades, by the new millennium it had all changed, and Daniel Craig took on the role of 007 wearing an Omega.

Craig wore this Automatic Seamaster Professional ‘Planet Ocean’ wristwatch on-screen in Skyfall, his second outing as James Bond released in 2012.

The unique example featured black dial with Arabic quarters, luminous hands and sweep centre seconds, and was built in Titanium to withstand the film's many action sequences.

The watch hit the block at Christie's in London in 2012, as part of a sale celebrating 50 years of James Bond, and sold for $254,270.

Albert Einstein's pocket watch - $348,315

(Image: Christie

(Image: Christie's)

The simple silver Swiss open-face pocket watch was owned by Einstein during the earliest years of his career, following his graduation from Zürich Polytechnic in 1900.

He spent the next two years searching in vain for a teaching post, before settling for a job as a patent clerk in Bern, and began working on his thesis.

By 1905 – his 'annus mirabilis – he had written four groundbreaking papers and made scientific breakthroughs which changed the course of human history.

The watch, which had passed directly from Einstein to the present owner, was offered with an estimate of £15,000 - £20,000, but sold for a final price of $348,315.

JFK’s Omega gold Ultrathin wristwatch - $350,000

(Image: Omega)

(Image: Omega)

In 1960, John F. Kennedy’s close friend Grant Stockdale presented him with a gold Omega Ultrathin watch engraved with the message: “President of the United States John F. Kennedy from his friend Grant".

Kennedy wasn’t elected President until a year later, but he clearly saw the watch as a good omen and wore it at his inauguration in January 1961.

More than 40 years later the watch sold at Guernsey’s, in December 2005, when it was bought by the Omega Museum for $350,000.

Roger Moore's James Bond Rolex Submariner wristwatch - $365,000

(Image: Antiquorum)

(Image: Antiquorum)

This Rolex watch was famously worn by Roger Moore in the 1971 James Bond film Live and Let Die, his first on-screen outing as '007'.

The Rolex Submariner was created by prop designer Syd Cain, and like all Bond watches featured two memorable gadgets: a spinning buzz-saw and a powerful magnetic field.

In the film Moore put them both to good use, cutting through ropes around his wrists, deflecting bullets, and undoing the dress zipper of a female acquaintance.

The iconic screen-worn Rolex was once described as "the most recognizable watch in history", and sold at Antiquorum in 2015 for $365,000.

Jacqueline Kennedy's Cartier wristwatch - $379,500

(Image: Christie

(Image: Christie's)

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy received this Cartier wristwatch as a gift from her brother-in-law Prince Stanislaw Radziwill in 1963.

It was inscribed "Stas to Jackie 23 Feb. 63 2:05 am to 9:35 pm", to commemorate a 50-mile hike he took along with his friend Chuckl Spalding, after President John F. Kennedy bet them they couldn't complete the route in under 20 hours.

Jacqueline Kennedy wore the watch for years, and in 2017 it was snapped up at auction for $379,500, more than three times its top estimate.

According to reports, the winning bidder was reality TV star Kim Kardashian.

Eric Clapton’s 1971 Rolex Daytona wristwatch- $505,000

(Image: Sotheby

(Image: Sotheby's)

Rock star Eric Clapton is renowned as a collector of fine things, most notably modern art and timepieces.

In December 2008 this rare 1971 Albino Rolex Daytona sold at Sotheby’s for a remarkable $505,000 – smashing its estimate of $150,000 and setting a new world record in the process.

Albert Einstein’s gold Longines wristwatch - $596,000

(Image: Antiquorum)

(Image: Antiquorum)

This gold Longines wristwatch was presented to Albert Einstein in 1931 by Rabbi Edgar Magnin, during a luncheon held in the physicist's honour in Los Angeles.

Bearing the inscription "Prof. Albert Einstein, Los Angeles, Fe. 16, 1931", the watch was offered for auction at Antiquorum in October 2008.

It soared past its estimate of $25,000-$35,000 to sell for $596,000 – a record price for a Longines watch at auction.

Babe Ruth’s 1923 New York Yankees World Championship pocket watch - $717,000

(Image: Heritage Auctions)

(Image: Heritage Auctions)

In 1923 the Yankees won their first World Series, helped in no small part by their star man Babe Ruth.

Ruth’s popularity was one of the major factors in the team’s success, with the first Yankee Stadium known as ‘The House That Ruth Built’.

However, this inscribed gold Gruen Verithin pocketwatch was the only memento Ruth ever had from his first Championship.

Believed lost for 90 years, and described as "the most significant article of New York Yankees memorabilia that exists", the watch sold at Heritage Auctions in February 2014 for $717,000.

Winston Churchill's WWII Allied Victory pocket watch - $754,610

(Image: Sotheby

(Image: Sotheby's)

This unique pocket watch was one of four gifted to the victorious Allied leaders by a group of prominent Swiss citizens, following the end of WWII.

Churchill received the watch with a dedication which read “The Happy Warrior, he inspired England with courage and endurance when she was alone, defenceless and in great peril, and led her through five years to victory”.

The watch features a hand-painted enamel dial depicting St. George slaying the dragon, with a "V" for victory engraved on the back.

The historic pocket watch sold at Sotheby's in September 2015 for $754,610.

Steve McQueen’s Swiss Heuer Monaco Series wristwatch - $799,500

(Image: Profiles in History)

(Image: Profiles in History)

This Swiss Heuer Monaco Series watch was worn by screen icon Steve McQueen during production and publicity photography for his 1971 racing drama Le Mans.

At least two further examples were also worn by the actor during filming, with one currently residing in the Tag Heuer museum.

However, this model – in the best condition of the three – sold at Profiles in History in July 2012 for $799,500, setting a record for a movie-worn watch.

Elizabeth Taylor’s Bvlgari Serpenti wristwatch - $974,500

(Image: Christie

(Image: Christie's)

The sale of Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry collection at Christie’s in December 2011 set a new world record for a single-owner collection.

Every single lot on offer smashed its estimate, on the way to an incredible total of $116 million.

Amongst the highlights was a diamond, emerald and gold Bvlgari ‘Serpenti’ wristwatch, made circa 1961, which was expected to bring $12,000-$15,000 and sold for $974,500.

Dave Scott's Apollo 15 Bulova Chronograph wristwatch - $1.6 million

(Image: RR Auction)

(Image: RR Auction)

This Bulova Chronograph wristwatch is the only personally-owned watch ever worn on the surface of the moon.

Apollo astronauts usually wore NASA-issued Omega Speedmaster watches during their missions. 

However, during the Apollo 15 mission in July 1971, Commander Dave Scott also took his own watch, and was forced to use it when his Omega watch malfunctioned.

Scott wore it during his third and final spacewalk, and it then remained on his wrist for the journey back to Earth.

Because of the limited amount of water and oxygen available to astronauts, exact timings are vital to survival, and Scott's Bulova Chronograph watch played an important role in the success of the mission.

The watch sold at RR Auction in October 2015 for $1,625,000, setting a new record price for a piece of American space memorabilia.

Mahatma Gandhi’s Zenith pocket watch - $2 million

(Image: Antiquorum)

(Image: Antiquorum)

In May 2009, Antiquorum offered a remarkable collection of items from the Indian political and spiritual leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

These included his 1910 Zenith pocket watch, his glasses, a pair of sandals and the plate and bowl from which he ate his last meal, prior to his assassination in 1948.

Despite much controversy, the collection as a single lot for $2,096,000.

Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie's Rolex wristwatch - $2.9 million

(Images: Christie

(Images: Christie's)

This Rolex ref. 2497 wristwatch was specially made in 1954 for Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie.

As a royal descendant of the biblical King Solomon, Selassie is regarded as the 'Messiah' for four million Rastafari followers around the world.

He received the 18k gold watch from Italian aviation pioneer Federico Bazzi, who presented it to him during an official visit to Switzerland.

The featured sweep centre seconds, moon phases, luminous Arabic numerals and Alpha hands, and was one of only three examples ever produced by Rolex.

The watch was described as "one of the most captivating and important horological discoveries in recent years", and sold at Christie's in Geneva in 2017 for $2.9 million.

Eric Clapton’s Patek Philippe 2499 wristwatch - $3.6 million

(Image: Christie

(Image: Christie's)

This 1987 Patek Philippe Ref. 2499, one of just two examples ever made in platinum, is regarded as perhaps the Holy Grail for Patek Philippe watch collectors.

One remained in the company museum, and the other ended up in the hands of Eric Clapton.

In November 2012 Clapton consigned it to auction at Christie’s in Geneva, where it sold for a record $3,635,808.

Vietnamese Emperor Bao Dai's Rolex wristwatch - $5 million

(Image: Phillips)

(Image: Phillips)

This unique Rolex watch originally belonged to His Majesty Bao Dai, the last Emperor of Vietnam.

The Emperor acquired the watch in Geneva in 1954, whilst attending a peace conference in the aftermath of the Indochina war. 

During a break in talks, he walked across the road to a Swiss watch dealer and said he wanted to buy the world's rarest and most valuable Rolex wristwatch.

The dealer sprang into action, and ordered him a Rolex reference 6062, the company's most complicated Oyster-cased watch.

Finished in yellow gold with a black dial and diamond indexes, the watch included day, date, month and moonphase indications, and was of only three examples ever made.

The watch sold at Phillips in Geneva in 2017 for $5,066,000, setting a record as the most expensive Rolex watch in the world.

Paul Newman Rolex - $17.75 million

(Image: Phillips)

(Image: Phillips)

The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Oyster 'Paul Newman' is one of the world's most collectible watches.

The model got its nickname thanks to Hollywood star Paul Newman, who famously wore several examples throughout his life. However, this particular example was the first he ever owned, and was closely tied to his personal life.

Newman developed a love of motor racing during training for his 1969 film 'Winning', and by 1972 he had taken it up professionally. This second career brought him success on the track, but it also worried his wife Joanne Woodward, who feared for his safety.

She gave him the Rolex, which include the inscription "DRIVE CAREFULLY ME" as a reminder for him to come home in one piece.

Newman kept the watch for years, and later gifted it to his daughter's boyfriend as they rebuilt a treehouse together at his property in Connecticut.

Thirty years later he placed it up for auction, with a portion of the proceeds to benefit the Newman's Own charitable foundation.

The watch was described as "arguably the most iconic collector's wristwatch of the 20th century", and in October 2017 it smashed the world record for any wristwatch when it sold at Phillips for an astounding $17,752,500.

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