Style

6 Famous Watches Worn By Famous Men

We never truly get to know the men whose fame have stood the test of time, but their watches offer us a slight glimpse into their lives.

Jun 26, 2018 | By Terence Poh

JFK wearing the Omega ‘Ultra Thin’ at his inauguration ball, January 20th 1961

High-end watchmakers like Omega, Breitling, and Cartier have led the ubiquity of watches as both a fashion statement and symbol of social standing for many yearas. General Merchandise Manager of Barneys New York, Tom Kalenderian, describes watches as “a fine timekeeping device that not only kept time but said something about status and personal style”. A good watch speaks for itself, and its owner.

Often, we never truly get to know the men whose fame have stood the test of time. But perhaps, their watches offer us a slight glimpse into their lives.

6 Famous Watches Worn By Famous Men Of Our Time

Paul Newman and his Rolex Daytona

Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona

Actor, Director, and Producer Paul Newman, whose achievements on the big screen has hardly been contended, owned a Rolex Daytona amongst his most prized possessions. At an auction in October 2017, Newman’s watch sold for over $17.8 million after fees and percentages, setting a record for most valuable watch sold at an auction.

The watch is considered Holy Grail among watch collectors due to its far-reaching roots and ties to numerous collectors’ communities. A gift from Newman’s wife, actress Joanne Woodward, the watch transcends more than a vintage watch or Hollywood memorabilia – it is a piece of American history, and one of the greatest in the world at that.

 

John F. Kennedy’s Presidential Omega ‘Ultra Thin’

Before he was president, JFK was a gracious US Senator from the Massachusetts. His friend and former Florida State Senator Grand Stockdale commissioned the design of a custom Omega Ultra Thin to commemorate JFK’s electoral victory. The watch face is cream white with an 18-karat gold case inscribed with “PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES JOHN F. KENNEDY FROM HIS FRIEND GRANT” on its back. It is curious to note that JFK hadn’t yet won the election at the time it was ordered.

In 2005, OMEGA bid $350,000 at an auction for the watch and has since housed the timepiece at the Omega Museum in Bienne, Switzerland.

 

Steve McQueen wearing his Rolex Submariner in The Hunter.

Steve McQueen’s Rolex Submariner

The star of Bullitt was so cool that he was literally coined the “the King of Cool” in Hollywood. Steve McQueen gifted his prized Rolex Submariner to legendary stunt driver Loren James, the man behind McQueen’s stunts in movies such as Bullitt and The Getaway. The timepiece sports the inscriptions “LOREN, THE BEST DAMN STUNTMAN IN THE WORLD. STEVE.”, perfectly stylised considering McQueen’s counterculture anti-hero persona back in his days.

As if the men who owned it didn’t imbue it with enough cool, the watch even survived the LA Sand Fires in 2016. Though serviced by Rolex after the incident, chunks of soot are still stuck in between the band clasps and caseback.

The watch is due to be auctioned this October, with bids estimated to go as high as $600,000.

 

Buzz Aldrin and his Omega Speedmaster

Buzz Aldrin’s Omega Speedmaster

Buzz Aldrin stepped foot on the moon in 1969 with an Omega Speedmaster on his left wrist. This made the Speedmaster the first wrist watch to make it to the moon. Shortly after making it back to earth, Aldrin sent all his gear to the Smithsonian. However, rather unfortunately, his famous Speedmaster never made it to the museum. It could still be out there somewhere, but we hope he left it on the moon.

 

Alain Delon and director Jean-Pierre Melville on set of Un Flic in 1972

Alain Delon’s Cartier Tank

Celebrating its first centenary last year, the Cartier Tank, with its shape and name synonymous of the period it was created, remains a fashion accessory that stands the test of time. The Tank was, quite literally, inspired by military tanks – of undeniable immediacy, ‘tank’ was the buzzword and trending topic of the time in 1917 – done tastefully by Cartier whose sort of marketing savvy preceded its time.

The Tank’s unparalleled elegance was coveted by many, and by immensely popular French star Alain Delon himself among his collection of watches. An iconic spontaneous photograph of Delon and director Jean-Pierre Melville on set of Un Flic in 1972 cemented the timepiece’s place in pop culture as the pair was seen sharing their passion for the Tank. The watch sold for 68,750 euros despite its 1,800 euros estimate at an auction in 2012.

 

A Swiss-made Longines wristwatch, seen front and back, which belonged to Albert Einstein and auctioned on October 16, 2008 in New York. AFP PHOTO / HANDOUT/ANTIQUORUM

Albert Einstein’s Longines Gold Watch

The world’s most famous physicist Albert Einstein wore an elegant gold model Longines dating from 1929. Little needs to be said about the man whose work revolutionised mankind’s perception of time.

Inscribed with his name on the caseback, the watch is a symbolic part of the greatest spirit of the 20th century. The timepiece auctioned off at US$ 596,000 in 2008, fetching the highest price ever at the time.


 
Back to top