Marlon Brando’s Rolex GMT-Master Sells for $1.952 Million at Phillips’ Game Changers Watch Auction
Game Changers, the 2019 New York Watch auction hosted by Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo, realized $20,169,875/ CHF19,847,157 / €18,177,091, selling 100% by lot and 100% by value. This auction marks the first time that a US auction has ever seen five watches sell above $1 million.
The sale set several world auction records across brands and models, notably for a Rolex GMT-Master, a Rolex Day-Date (please read more about the watch here), a Patek Philippe Reference 1518 in pink gold, and a second series Patek Philippe Reference 2499 in yellow gold. Remarkable results were also seen across many independent watchmaking brands, including records for Urwerk and F.P. Journe, as well as a record price for a Lange 1 in stainless steel. The sale also matched the world record for a Philippe Dufour Simplicity, set last month in Geneva.
Aurel Bacs, Phillips’ Senior Consultant, said, “Our third annual New York watch auction, Game Changers, brought together an extraordinary group of timepieces that were owned by those who have reached unprecedented heights in their field, alongside truly groundbreaking watch models by leading brands. The unprecedented success of tonight’s sale is a testament to the ever-growing community of discerning watch enthusiasts, who responded enthusiastically to the meticulously curated sale of 74 lots. It was an absolute pleasure and privilege to preside over this record-breaking auction.”
Paul Boutros, Phillips’ Head of Watches, Americas, added, “It was an honor to work with such an exceptional group of consignors this season, many of whose iconic watches were sold to benefit charitable organizations. I was humbled to have had the opportunity to meet Jack Nicklaus, the greatest golfer of all time, and Petra Brando Fischer, Marlon Brando’s daughter, who so openly shared such wonderful memories of her father. Witnessing their extraordinary generosity was a game-changing experience. Mr. Nicklaus’ prized Rolex Day-Date realized $1.22 million for the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, while Marlon Brando’s Rolex GMT-Master achieved $1.952 million, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the Brando Fischer Foundation. We were delighted to see a great deal of international participation in the sale, with bidders from over 50 countries enthusiastically raising their paddles, especially for the watches whose proceeds are being donated to such worthy causes.”
Leading the auction was Urwerk’s Atomic Mechanical Control, a tour-de-force of modern watchmaking, which realized $2.9 million, setting a new world record for the independent Swiss brand. Offered along with a mechanical wristwatch, Urwerk devoted 10 years of research and development to create this masterful work of art, leading to one of the most important timepieces ever created.
Patek Philippe’s exceedingly rare “pink-on-pink” reference 1518 sold for $2.3 million, having been consigned from the family of the original owner, while the Patek Philippe reference 2499 in yellow gold achieved $2,024,000. Its discovery changed established scholarship, with round pushers originally delivered by Patek Philippe, making it one of the most important examples of the reference to ever surface.
Jack Nicklaus’ Rolex Day‐Date Reference 1803 achieved a remarkable $1.22 million, soaring past its low estimate of $100,000. It graced the wrist of Mr. Nicklaus nearly every day since 1967 and was present when he won 12 of his record 18 professional major championship titles.
The Day‐Date is Rolex’s most prestigious model and one of the world’s most famous watches. 100% of the sale proceeds from this lot will directly benefit the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation.
After over 20 minutes of bidding from collectors across 3 continents, underscoring the enduring legacy of the most iconic actor of the 20th century, Marlon Brando’s Rolex GMT-Master reference 1675 sold for $1,952,000. With absolutely superb provenance, it was famously seen on Brando’s wrist in Apocalypse Now and long thought to have been missing.
Additionally, Vacheron Constantin’s unique Overseas Dual Time Prototype sold for $106,250, with proceeds going toward the National Geographic Society; Tag Heuer’s Monaco Piece d’Art was sold to benefit United Way of New York City; proceeds from watches by Richard Mille and Audemars Piguet will benefit One Drop; and Random Act Funding will benefit from the sale of the Urwerk UR-105 CT Iron worn by Robert Downey, Jr. in Avengers: Endgame (please read more about the watch here).
Top Ten Lots
Lot 8 - Urwerk. A unique, extremely rare, and historically innovative Atomic Master Clock with paired titanium wristwatch with power reserve and oil change indicator, with certificate of origin (please read more about the watch here).
World Auction Record For The Brand
Estimate: $1,000,000 - 2,000,000
Price Achieved: $2,900,000/ CHF2,853,600/ €2,613,480
Lot 64 - Patek Philippe. Ref. 1518. A previously unknown, extremely rare, and highly attractive pink gold perpetual chronograph wristwatch with pink dial and moon phase (please read more about the watch here).
World Auction Record For A Ref. 1518 In Pink Gold
Estimate: $1,200,000 - 2,400,000
Price Achieved: $2,300,000/ CHF2,263,200/ €2,072,760
Lot 40 - Patek Philippe. Ref. 2499. A possibly unique, previously unknown, and extremely well-preserved yellow gold perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with moon phase, retailed by Gübelin (please read more about the watch here).
Estimate: $1,000,000 - 2,000,000
Price Achieved: $2,024,000/ CHF1,991,616/ €1,824,029
Lot 30 - Rolex. GMT-Master, Ref. 1675. An iconic, historically important, and remarkably well-preserved stainless steel dual-time wristwatch with date (please read more about the watch here).
Worn By Marlon Brando In Apocalypse Now
World Auction Record For A Rolex Gmt-Master
Price Achieved: $1,952,000/ CHF1,920,768/ €1,759,142
Lot 18 - Rolex. Day-Date, Ref. 1803, A fine and culturally significant yellow gold wristwatch with day, date and bracelet, sold to benefit the Nicklaus Children's Health Care Foundation (please read more about the watch here).
From The Personal Collection Of Jack Nicklaus
World Auction Record For A Rolex Day-Date
Estimate: $100,000 - 200,000
Price Achieved: $1,220,000/ CHF1,200,480/ €1,099,464
Lot 20 - Rolex. Cosmograph Daytona, Ref. 6264. An extraordinarily rare, extremely attractive, and important yellow gold chronograph wristwatch with “Paul Newman Lemon” dial and service guarantee (please read more about the watch here).
Estimate: $450,000 - 900,000
Price Achieved: $884,000/ CHF869,856/ €796,661
Lot 63- Rolex. Cosmograph Daytona, Ref. 6241. A very fine, well-preserved, and highly attractive yellow gold chronograph wristwatch with “Paul Newman” dial and original guarantee (please read more about the watch here).
Estimate: $350,000 - 700,000
Price Achieved: $758,000/ CHF745,872/ €683,110
Lot 55- Rolex. Sea-Dweller Ref. 1665. A very rare, well preserved and historically important stainless steel wristwatch with date and bracelet, with original guarantee, box made for the Sultan of Oman, from the son of the original owner, including a hand-written letter on the history of the watch and related provenance material (please read more about the watch here).
Estimate: $200,000 - 400,000
Price Achieved: $462,500/ CHF455,100/ €416,805
Lot 48 - Rolex. Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 6263. A rare, extremely well-preserved, and highly attractive stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with “Paul Newman” dial and bracelet (please read more about the watch here).
Estimate: $300,000 - 600,000
Price Achieved: $425,000/ CHF418,200/ €383,010
Lot 29 - Patek Philippe. Nautilus Ref. 5711/1P-010. An important and extremely rare platinum automatic wristwatch with seconds, date, bracelet, and Certificate of Origin (please read more about the watch here).
Estimate: $250,000 - 500,000
Price Achieved: $356,250/ CHF350,550/ €321,053