Summer Rewind: Three Extraordinary Watches With Iconic Owners
We take a look back at the elegant timepieces that once adorned the most famous of wrists.
Anyone who’s been interested in watches long enough has seen their fair share of extraordinary timepieces, at least digitally. One need only look to major auction houses around the world to find hundreds of rare, prestigious, and covetable watches available to the highest bidder.
Whether you fancy chronographs, tourbillons, military models, or unique pieces, the best of the best is often just a click (and a fortune) away.
However, crazy as it may seem, rarity and mechanical excellence only go so far. What sends certain watches into the stratosphere of desire and collectibility is their patronage. As enthusiasts, we see this in our own lives. Watches in our collections that may seem unremarkable to others are often imbued with the personal significance that comes from milestone celebrations, associations with a loved one, childhood dreams, or whatever the case may be.
The power of ownership certainly rings true when we look at notable auctions in watch collecting; for example, it’s not just a Rolex Daytona, it’s Paul Newman’s Daytona. It’s not just a beat-up GMT-Master, it’s Marlon Brando’s GMT-Master with his name hand-carved into the caseback. And it’s not just a yellow gold Day-Date, it’s the only watch that Jack Nicklaus has ever owned.
The examples we’ve chosen for this Summer Rewind follow that same spirit of personal prowess. They are extraordinary timepieces, no doubt, but it’s the wrists they once belonged to that seals the deal. To see exactly what we mean, take a look below.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' Mythical Watch
Jacquline Kennedy Onassis is the closest thing we Americans have had to a princess. Her poise was known the world over, and she served as a cultural icon for many women during the Kennedy administration and beyond. Even the famous reservoir in New York’s Central Park bears her name, officially called the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir.
It perhaps comes as no surprise that the embodiment of new American elegance would wear a Cartier Tank. The watch was gifted to her by her brother-in-law Prince Stanislaw “Stas” Radziwill in 1963, and it’s the watch she wore during her years in the White House and on her exotic adventures around the world. Watchonista’s Editor-At-Large and vintage watch expert Rhonda Riche weighs in on the significance of this personal timepiece.
Is this the watch that Sammy Davis Jr. was buried with?
The words “The Entertainer: He Did It All” mark the gravestone of the late great Sammy Davis Jr. This legendary crooner rose to icon status through his time with the Rat Pack, oozing cool with every note he sang and every joke he cracked.
For years, his gravesite in California was also believed to be the final resting place for a watch gifted to him by none other than Frank Sinatra shortly before Sammy’s death. However, rumors and mystery abound on just how Sammy Davis Junior’s gold Pasha resurfaced 19 years after he was (supposedly) buried with it.
The watch, a yellow gold Cartier Pasha, which Frank Sinatra had engraved with the words “Sammy, I Luv Ya, F.A.S.” on the caseback, suddenly appeared on Antiquorum in June 2009. Watchonista’s US Managing Editor Josh Shanks does a deep dive on this storied piece and the auction lot with suspicious provenance.
Marilyn Monroe’s Watch: The Mystery Behind The Icon’s Blancpain Timepiece
Let’s start by pointing out that, given their feud over President Kennedy, Jackie O and Marilyn Monroe probably would not appreciate being on the same list. But, alas, here we are.
This blonde bombshell carried on her wrist her own symbol of desire in the form of a bejeweled Blancpain watch. The piece itself is fitting of the magnetism that Marilyn represented, and as any good seductress knows, a little mystery goes a long way.
The riddle, in this case, surrounds who exactly gave Marilyn the watch. Watchonista’s own Viviana Shanks takes a look at the competing theories behind its origins and drops some big names in the process.