Michael Caine Is Selling His Rolex Oysterquartz (And His Iconic Glasses)
In an effort to downsize, the acting legend is auctioning off some of his personal possessions at Bonhams in March, including a rare yellow-gold Oysterquartz Ref. 19018.
One of Watchonista’s most-read Unlikely Watch Collector articles over the past year was our profile of Sir Michael Caine. In it, we saw how the versatile actor, over a long and distinguished career, has rocked an eclectic range of timepieces, including an IWC Ingenieur 666 AD, Breitling Navitimer Aerospace Titanium, and Traser H3 Black Storm Pro.
However, the brand that has most often graced the Londoner’s wrist (both on-screen and off) over the past seven decades has to be Rolex. After hitting the big time in the 1960s, Caine began wearing a yellow-gold Oyster Perpetual Day-Date second-series Ref. 1803, with fluted bezel and linen-textured dial, at first on a leather strap before switching to a President bracelet in the 1970s.
But come the 1980s, and the Alfie star had moved with the times. To be more specific, his go-to timekeeper became a yellow-gold, champagne-dialed Oysterquartz Day-Date Ref. 19018 with an integrated, rectangular-link bracelet, which he regularly wore in his private life and in classic movies like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988).
Now, fans of the actor have a chance to become the new owner of this rare, battery-powered Rolex when it goes up for auction as part of Bonhams’ Sir Michael Caine: The Personal Collection sale in London on March 2nd.
Time To be Moving On
A few months shy of his 89th birthday, the actor known for playing butler Alfred Pennyworth in The Dark Knight Trilogy and the magic engineer Cutter in The Prestige has decided to take life, as Bonhams explained, “at a more leisurely pace.” As such, Caine and his wife Shakira are “downsizing” by putting a selection of the Oscar winner’s personal possessions up for auction.
The 20 lots will feature works of art (including a painting by Marc Chagall) and movie posters publicizing Caine classics such as Zulu, Alfie, Get Carter, and The Man Who Would Be King. Plus, there will be personal effects like cigarette lighters, a pair of the actor’s iconic, thick-rimmed glasses, and his Rolex Oysterquartz Ref. 19018.
“It’s going to be quite a wrench to part with so many treasured parts of my life and career, but it’s the right time to be moving on. I hope these mementos will give their new owners as much pleasure as they have given us,” said Caine.
The Oysterquartz Day-Date Ref. 19018
Launched in 1977, the Oysterquartz was Rolex’s response to consumer demand fueled by the quartz era, and it was one of the first Rolex models to come with a sapphire crystal.
Over the next 24 years, until it was discontinued in 2001, numerous versions of the Oysterquartz model were produced using either stainless steel, white gold, yellow gold, or a combination of stainless steel and white or yellow gold. Yet, despite its variations and 24-year production run, it is thought that fewer than 30,000 Oysterquartz watches were ever made.
Made around 1979, Caine’s yellow-gold Ref. 19018 is notable for its 36mm angular case that features polished sides and a brushed surface topped by a fluted bezel. The yellow-gold bracelet features three rows of rectangular links – with the peripheral links brushed and the central links polished – and it integrates seamlessly with the case. Helping the bracelet to flow even more is its “concealed” clasp.
Caine’s watch looks like it’s in good condition, bar a few scratches on the sapphire crystal at 6 o’clock and a few marks on the edge of the case, bezel, and bracelet. In any case, the new owner will be able to tell their friends that it was Michael Caine who put them there.
Champagne Dial and Loud Movement
Six dial variations were available for the Ref. 19018, and the dial on Caine’s watch is champagne-toned with a radial finish. While the day of the week at 12 o’clock was available in multiple languages, the actor understandably chose his in English. And, of course, the date window at three o’clock is magnified by a cyclops lens.
Moreover, the faceted, lume-filled baton hands point to applied baton hour markers, each accompanied by a luminous dot and a Roman numeral incorporated into the black outer minute track. Meanwhile, the gilded central seconds tapers to a fine point.
Finally, inside is the battery-powered 5055 calibre, which is known for ticking pretty loudly.
No Ordinary Rolex
At March’s auction, Caine’s Ref. 19018 will carry an estimate of between £8,000 and £12,000, which might seem about right for an “ordinary” Ref. 19018. But given this example has been owned and worn by one of the great movie icons, we can expect it to fetch considerably more than that.