A Personal Take on Elvis Presley’s Tiffany Stamped OMEGA Watch
Coming to auction this summer at Phillips, Elvis’s personal OMEGA has this fan all shook up. Here’s a long-winded backstory and hands-on with Presley’s personal watch.
A time-honored tradition when I was a young boy growing up in Kokomo, Indiana was to visit the local Big Lots department with my father. For hours, we’d peruse the seemingly endless aisles for bargains, knickknacks, and curiosities. Most days, we would come home with model cars, old gadgets, and the occasional toy. There was however, one visit that helped stir my interest in music and made me an Elvis Presley fan.
Inside a rather generic looking bargain bins of cassette tapes, I found a copy of Elvis Presley’s “From Elvis in Memphis” which was a 1969 recording that Presley made shortly after the conclusion of his film career. While I was raised on classic rock, I didn’t have much experience with Elvis since my parents were teenagers in the 70s, an era which saw Alice Cooper and Aerosmith dominate the charts and radio. I remember asking my Dad “what do you think about this one?” he replied, “Elvis is cool man, but your Grandma Smiley isn’t going to be happy, don’t mention it to her.”
We headed to the cash register and from my $5 allowance, I paid for the tape and headed back to the family Dodge Caravan. I unwrapped the package and popped in the tape. The title track “Wearing’ That Loved on Look” was a bit over this innocent Midwestern boy’s head, but as the album played on, I discovered some real gems. “In the Ghetto” “Suspicious Minds” and the titular “Kentucky Rain” were all well written and beautifully scored pieces of music. Over the next few months, I listened to this tape on repeat – that is – until my religious great-grandmother found it and tossed it in the trash. In the years that followed, I bought every Elvis tape in sight, visited Graceland, and even wore a TCB (Taking Care of Business) necklace.
Elvis may have left the building, but he’s still very much in the conversation
While Presley’s lyrics and gyrating hips seem tame by today’s standards, in the 1950s, the blatant sexual nature of his performances resonated with teens and was generally despised by parents. Despite this polarizing effect, the King of Rock and Roll went on to achieve 10 number one albums and 38 number one singles. Just this year, he was certified 136 million times platinum which is third all-time. Safe to say, the King is still very much in the conversation.
In 1961, shortly after Elvis Presley finished his military service, he focused on his movie career which resulted in the production of over twenty films which, despite critic’s mostly negative reviews, were all commercially successful. Although he wasn’t actively recording or touring in 1961, Elvis was still selling records like hotcakes. To celebrate Presley’s selling of 75 million records, RCA Records gifted Elvis this Tiffany & Co signed Omega wrist watch.
Engraved on the back of the watch is a special note ‘To Elvis, 75 Million Records, RCA Victor, 12-25-60.’
Consigned to Phillips by Presley’s nephew, this 18-karat white gold 33mm Omega wrist watch is sure to captivate buyers and Elvis fans alike. The diamond-set bezel features 44 round brilliant cut diamonds which make this watch fit for a King. The watch is powered by the manually wound caliber 510 movement stamped with “OXG” which as at the time the United States import mark used by Omega.
It’s thought that the watch was gifted to Elvis during a February 25, 1961 charity concert. It was on this day that Tennessee governor Buford Ellington declared “Elvis Presley Day” a statewide holiday. RCA Records then presented Presley with a commemorative plaque for his selling of 75 million records worldwide. Along with the plaque was this Omega wristwatch, likely presented in an Omega box. While the original box is long gone, and the plaque is hung on the walls of Graceland in Memphis, TN, the watch is on offer at Phillips.
Getting hands-on with this watch during Watches & Wonders was one of the highlights of my visit to Miami. Phillips’ Paul Boutros eagerly presented the watch while I tried to contain my boyhood excitement. Boutros was kind enough to let me strap the watch to my wrist and experience for a brief moment in time what it must’ve felt like to be the King of Rock and Roll. It was a special occasion indeed!
For proof of ownership, Phillips has provided a photo of Elvis wearing the watch during a performance, which was publish in Dave Marsh’s Elvis biography. The watch also comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by Jimmy Velvet, the founder and CEO of the Elvis Presley Museum.
Phillips will auction Elvis Presley’s Tiffany stamped Omega wristwatch in their May 12-13 Geneva Watch Auction: SEVEN. The auction is set to take place at La Réserve Hotel just a few miles away from central Geneva. Early estimates expect this important watch to fetch between CHF 50,000 to 100,000.
(Photography by Liam O’Donnell)