A watch from the personal collection of anyone of history’s biggest celebrities (think Charlie Choplin, Elvis Presley, or James Dean) is certainly a one-of-a-kind item to own, and as you would have probably thought, a very expensive item as well. A celebrity’s name, depending on their popularity and historical significance, can add a tremendous amount of value to any watch. In addition, however, history’s top celebrities have often had special access to one-off exclusives from the most renowned watch companies like Rolex and Patek Philippe. Top class watch collectors are willing to spend enormous amounts of money to have a shot at owning one of these rare watches that for them is priceless. This has been the case the past few years at auction houses like Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Antiquorum, where celebrity watches have sold at prices that will leave you dumbfounded. In this article, our team at SellMeWatch.com covers five celebrity watches that took the cake at auctions.
#1. Charlie Choplin’s Rolex Oyster
In 2013, Antiquorum held the “Important Modern and Vintage Timepieces” auction in New York City, which featured many watches from the personal collections of various celebrities and historical figures. Among those watches was Charlie Choplin’s Rolex Oyster from 1945. The legendary star’s Rolex, which had an estimated high price of $12,000, sold for over $50,000. Despite coming with pictures of Mr. Choplin wearing the watch and a correspondence letter from an expert who had worked on the watch, what really increased the watch’s value was the fact that it was a left-handed watch which Rolex only manufactured a very limited amount of.
#2 Elvis Presley’s Omega Constellation Calendar
In 2012, Elvis Presley’s Omega Constellation Calendar was up for sale at an Antiquorum auction and immediately generated a huge amount of buzz. The watch featured a sleek black dial along with one-of-a-kind rose gold plating on the bezel and along the case, making it a perfect fit for the King of Rock and Roll. Estimates had the watch going in the $10,000-$20,000 price range, but it quickly surpassed those estimates and sold for a whopping $52,500. Even with that high final sale price, many would still argue that it’s a bargain for such a unique piece of rock and roll memorabilia.
#3 James Dean’s Elgin Standard U.S.S Pocket Watch
It’s not every day that a pocket watch is sold for a sky-rocketing price, but when the pocket watch belongs to a Hollywood icon, the situation quickly changes. At the same Antiquorum “Important Modern and Vintage Timepieces” that Charlie Choplin’s Rolex was sold at, James Dean’s vintage pocket watch was also up for sale. Dean’s Elgin Standard U.S.S. Pocket Watch had his initials engraved on it, and the watch was believed to have great sentimental value for the Hollywood legend who kept it as a good luck charm. After several rounds of bidding, the watch sold for a staggering $42,000.
#4. Albert Einstein’s 1930 Longines
While Albert Einstein isn’t what most would consider a typical celebrity, he is unquestionably one of the most important figures in the history of the world. When it was announced that his watch would be for sale at an Antiquorum auction in 2008, many jumped at the opportunity. The watch, a 1930 Longines, was engraved with the world-renowned scientist’s name on the back, along with the date and location of where he got the watch. Auction experts estimated that the watch would sell for around $35,000, but the watch eventually sold for an astounding $596,000, breaking the record to become the most expensive Longines watch ever sold.
#5. Eric Clapton’s Patek Philippe Ref. 2499/100
At a Christie’s auction in 2012 in the world’s watchmaking capital of Geneva, Switzerland, legendary rock guitarist and seasoned watch collector Eric Clapton’s Patek Philippe Reference 2499/100 sold for the jaw-dropping price of $3.65 million dollars, the most expensive price this reference had ever sold for. The watch, considered by many watch experts as the epitome of horological excellence, was an ultra-rare platinum perpetual calendar chronograph with moon phases. It was one of only two 2499 watches that were ever made in platinum and the only one to ever be on the market publicly, making it one of the most elusive pieces to own for watch collector’s all over the world.