Sir Elton John’s Collection of Luxury Watches Gets Auctioned Off by Christie’s
Vintage & Auctions

Hello, Goodbye: Sir Elton John’s Collection of Luxury Watches Gets Auctioned Off by Christie’s

Christie’s New York put 31 of Sir Elton’s greatest horological hits under the hammer. Here are the most amazing auction results.

By Rhonda Riche

Elton John and his husband, David Furnish, sold their long-time Atlanta residence last year, and they just held one hell of an estate sale. Beginning with an evening sale on Wednesday, February 21, and wrapping up today, February 28th, Christie’s New York presented “Sir Elton John: Goodbye Peachtree Road,” a collection of watches, photographs, fashion, and jewelry that provide a peek into the couple’s life in Georgia.

However, as interesting as his collection is, in the world of collecting, Elton John is an anomaly. He is rich and famous and connected enough that he can buy whatever whenever he wants. For instance, in a 2016 interview that appeared in The Guardian, Sir Elton confessed that he once impulsively bought out an entire exhibition of Nan Goldin photographs from Jay Jopling’s White Cube gallery in London.

In that same interview, John states that he is not a trophy collector; he just buys what he loves, and this auction of objects from his Atlanta estate (which consisted of 921 total lots spread over eight sales, both live and online) proved just how esoteric – and extravagant – his tastes can be.

Here, we look back on five of the 31 watches on offer, from over-the-top to absolutely unhinged.

Can You Feel the Love Tonight

In the catalog for a 2003 exhibition called “The Radical Eye” at the Tate Modern, John said: “I’ve always loved objects. As a child, my parents argued a lot, so I found comfort in objects, and my collections were always pristine – my records, my toys, they were all beautifully kept.” However, this is not to say that Sir Elton doesn’t wear his watches.

In fact, in an infamous 1980 interview on The Tomorrow Show, John schooled host Tom Snyder on his jewelry whilst wearing a gold Cartier Santos and singing an a cappella version of a ditty called “Cartier.”

Lot 12 in the Christie’s catalogue was a very desirable and rare 18k gold limited edition asymmetrical wristwatch with a deployant clasp. This 1991 model is numbered 150 out of a limited edition of 400 pieces, and it sold for $277,200 – almost four times its estimate.

Dark Diamond

Most appraisers will tell you that altering a watch will lessen its resale value. But glow-ups are integral to Elton John’s personality. In fact, the Rocket Man is known for after-market embellishments such as diamonds, diamonds, and more diamonds.

One of the most interesting pieces – at least, horologically speaking – in the Goodbye Peachtree collection is a 2000 platinum Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Automatic Triple Calendar with a pointer date. The estimate was $12,000 to $18,000, but the hammer price was $35,280 – proving that provenance can trump essentialism.

Don’t Go Breaking My Heart

Over the last forty decades, the timepieces Sir Elton has most frequently been photographed wearing include a Chopard Imperiale, a Platinum Rolex Day-Date, and a Franck Muller Cintrée Curvex.

And since Elton John’s style is a testimony to his love for the outrageous, so you know he’s going to have more than one Muller up his sleeve. After all, in a sit down with Interview magazine, Sir Elton called Muller “the Picasso of watches.”

Hence, Lot 401 of the auction is an 18K white gold and diamond-set Franck Muller Chronograph from the 1990s. Estimated to sell for between $8,000 and $12,000, it sold for nearly triple the high-end of its estimate, with a final hammer price of $35,280.

That’s What Friends Are For

You’d think a Rolex Daytona would be pretty tame for Elton John’s taste, but Lot 9 is described in the Christie’s catalogue as an “exuberant and rare 18k gold, diamond, and yellow sapphire-set automatic chronograph wristwatch with leopard dial.”

Yet, despite this already florid description, it completely undersells the audacity of this 2001 timepiece. Its estimate was between $40,000 and 60,000, but it sold for a whopping $176,400, setting a new world auction record for a non-Paul Newman version of the model.

I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues

Over the years, Chopard has teamed up with the Elton John AIDS Foundation to create limited editions for its fundraising efforts. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Chopard is well-represented in the Goodbye Peachtree auction.

However, the brand highlight (at least, for me) was a 2010 piece unique created for the charity – a blue-dialed automatic chronograph flanked by two diamond set skulls estimated to be worth between $10,000 and $15,000. The winning bid for this memento mori was $94,500.

(Front image: Sir Elton John (album cover variant), 1974 by Terry O'Neill (1938–2019). All Images © Christie's)

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