Horror has a face…and you might find it on this particular Rolex GMT-Master. Not for any other reason, but that it sat on the wrist of the late film legend Marlon Brando as Colonel Walter E. Kurtz in the Coppola magnum opus Apocalypse Now.
The watch is being put up for auction by Brando’s daughter Petra and her husband Russel in New York on 10th December 2019. The auction is managed by Phillips, and will be part of Game Changers, a curated collection of other timepieces significant for their extraordinary “provenance, aesthetics, condition, and rarity”.
The Rolex, ref. 1675, was purchased in the early 1970s, and was gifted to Brando’s daughter in 1995. It’s not an “official” movie prop though. Brando — known to be notoriously difficult to work with as an actor — turned up to set wearing the timepiece, and insisted on wearing the watch even though he was told to remove it during filming, arguing, “If they’re looking at my watch, then I’m not doing my job as an actor.”
The actor did make a concession though, and removed the bezel, resulting in the watch’s unique look that made it to screen. For the auction, the timepiece is being offered as it was when gifted to Petra in 1995 — sans bezel and fitted on a rubber strap. There’s also an engraving on the back, with “M. Brando” scratched out on the metal by the actor’s own hand.
Everything else remains well preserved, with details like its bezel and sharp edges all in exceptionally good condition. The hour markers and hands have aged to beige, while the dial, hands, case, crystal, and crown are all original to the watch — a bonus for film buffs who also happen to be fans of vintage horology.
A part of the proceeds from the sale of the watch will go to a charitable foundation established by Brando’s daughter and her husband. The foundation provides financial support for needy children living through abuse, neglect, poverty, or disability.
The auction in December will also be the first time Brando’s watch will be seen in public. The timepiece will also appear alongside other rarities like an iconic Rolex Day‐Date that belonged to golf luminary Jack Nicklaus.
More info at the Phillips website.