Marilyn Monore’s Watch: The Mystery Behind The Icon’s Blancpain’s Timepiece
Vintage & Auctions

Marilyn Monroe’s Watch: The Mystery Behind The Icon’s Blancpain Timepiece

Over the years, many celebrities have worn beautiful timepieces that carry captivating stories and memories. Such is the case with Marilyn Monroe’s stunning platinum Blancpain that recently sparked a peculiar mystery for this writer.

By Viviana Shanks

Marilyn Monroe is more than an icon. She was the most photographed woman of her time, more than even the legendary Jackie O, and she always inspired the curiosity of the press and men. She was a lover of simple things, so how did she come to possess a beautiful Blancpain timepiece?

An Exhibition To Celebrate Timeless Elegance

From October 31st until November 23rd at Blancpain's Fifth Avenue Boutique, you’ll see Marilyn Monroe’s watch on display for the first time ever. For the occasion, the Fifth Avenue boutique is decorated with red roses and vintage ladies’ timepieces on loan from Blancpain’s museum. It’s the ideal exhibition for Art Deco lovers.

The Blancpain team put together a beautiful tribute to Marilyn with displays of the star’s personal items, iconic dresses, and movie accessories. But maybe the most striking homage was the presence of Lawrence Schiller, the photographer, and friend of the Hollywood star. Lawrence took some of the most iconic pictures of the sex-symbol when he was in his 20s, including the famous shot of Marilyn leaving a pool topless.

During the exhibition, Marilyn's priceless Blancpain is surrounded by the brand's current feminine watch collection, which is comprised of beautiful pieces and haute joaillerie watches which would make even Marilyn swoon. Blancpain's Marilyn Monroe showcase is the perfect occasion to wander and discover (or re-discover) what the brand has to offer in the often overlooked segment of mechanical ladies’ watches.

About Marilyn

Marilyn became, and still is, an icon of fashion, grace, and elegance. But before that, she started her career working in a factory during World War II. That is where she met a photographer from the U.S. Army Air Forces’ First Motion Picture Unit and began her pin-up modeling career.

After being discovered by movie producers from Twentieth Century Fox and Columbia Pictures, she landed a couple of small roles and started becoming popular in the early 1950s. It wasn’t until her roles in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and “Niagara” that Marilyn became the sex-symbol she is known as today. However, upon noticing that her male counterparts were paid way more than she was and the production studios not being keen on changing her contract, she decided to create her own production company.

During her career, she acted alongside many notable figures. She became good friends with the Rat Pack, including Frank Sinatra, who she was rumored to have dated. Rumor persists that she often stayed at his house to avoid the photographers and be at peace. Among her notable “friends” was John F. Kennedy, for whom, three months before her tragic death, she sang her iconic (and controversial) “Happy Birthday Mister President.”

The Watch And A Mystery

Back in 2016, the watch appeared at Julien’s Auction and was sold to Blancpain for $225,000, double the original estimate. The watch is set with 73 diamonds, holds a small mechanical movement signed inscribed “Rayville Watch Co. 17 Jewels,” and features Blancpain's insignia on its white rectangular dial. The bracelet is small, painting a vivid picture of how petite Marilyn was back in the day. This watch is the epitome of charm, unique personality, and elegance. 

For two years, the watch neither left the Blancpain manufacture nor was shown to anyone. It would seem only fitting that the “Timeless Elegance Exhibition” is the perfect opportunity to display the watch for the first time.  

Unfortunately, there are no pictures of Marilyn wearing the watch, not one. Neither is it known how she acquired it. There are multiple theories about how the watch came into Marilyn’s possession, but for all we know she might have bought it herself. And yet, despite her image, she was not a big jewelry aficionado. However, knowing the era and how men adored her, we can probably conclude that it was a gift from someone who cared deeply for her.

One of my favorite theories and one that could actually be possible is: What if the watch was given to her by Frank Sinatra? As previously mentioned, they were rumored lovers, and the Ol’ Blue Eyes was known to shower women and friends with gifts and songs. Besides, Joe DiMaggio, Marilyn's ex-husband, was too much of a macho-man to ever gift a diamond watch to the star, and it would have been too much of a political danger for J.F.K. to risk it. Food for thought.

(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)

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