Clapton’s Rolex, Wiesenthal’s Patek Going Up for Auction

WatchesMar 24, 2022

Clapton’s Rolex, Wiesenthal’s Patek Going Up for Auction

The timepieces, once belonging to men with very different public images, are part of Phillips’ upcoming watch auction in Geneva.

The three watches leading Phillips’ upcoming Geneva watch auction are, from left, a Rolex chronograph “Crazy Doc” Ref. 6239 that once belonged to Eric Clapton, a Patek Philippe Ref. 1503 originally owned by Simon Wiesenthal, and a Patek Philippe Ref. 1518 in pink gold with a pink dial.
Geneva—Luxury watches that once belonged to men with near-polar-opposite public images are expected to be among the top lots at an upcoming Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo auction in Geneva.

“The Geneva Watch Auction: XV” is scheduled to take place in May, led by a “Crazy Doc” Rolex once owned by Eric Clapton, a Patek Philippe originally owned by Simon Wiesenthal, and an “outstanding example” of a pink gold Patek Ref. 1518 with a pink dial.

The “Crazy Doc” Rolex is a Rolex Daytona Ref. 6239 with a pulsations scale, the only known yellow gold Ref. 6239 with the pulsations scale on the dial.

The watch is estimated to sell for more than CHF 1.5 million ($1.6 million).

Regarded as a music legend and one of the greatest guitarists of all time, Clapton’s image has taken a hit recently after he spoke out against lockdowns imposed to curb COVID-19 and publicly expressed skepticism about vaccines, befuddling and alienating longtime friends and fans.

Clapton’s stance on vaccines had some recalling another controversial incident from the musician’s past—a racist rant he went on at a 1976 concert in Birmingham, England, that he later apologized for, blaming it on the severe drinking problem he had at the time.

The watch going up for auction in May is not being sold by Clapton personally. Phillips said Clapton bought the watch in Italy in the 1990s and sold it at auction in 2003, the first time the musician, a noted watch collector, ever publicly sold watches under his name.

It is being marketed as a Rolex “Crazy Doc” that was “formerly part of the collection of Eric Clapton.”

The Patek Philippe once owned by Wiesenthal is a Ref. 1503 in stainless steel with a black glossy dial and Breguet numerals that was made in 1941. It is one of only two known examples of this configuration.

Born on Dec. 31, 1908, Wiesenthal was a Jewish-Austrian Holocaust survivor who dedicated his life to championing justice and human rights, bringing Nazi criminals to justice and making sure the Holocaust and its victims were never forgotten.

Wiesenthal died in 2005, but his name and work lives on in the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a global Jewish human rights organization.

Phillips said Wiesenthal’s Patek Philippe Ref. 1503 first appeared in the market in 2007, consigned by his family. It has not been seen on the market since.

The watch is expected to sell for CHF 250,000-500,000 ($268,000-$536,000). 

The final watch rounding out the auction’s top three is a Patek Philippe pink gold Ref. 1518 with a pink dial. 

Phillips said the pink gold/pink dial is one of the most wanted versions of the Ref. 1518, a reference that has generated a “market increase” in interest among collectors recently. 

The estimated sale price on the Patek pink gold Ref. 1518 is CHF 1.2 million-2.4 million ($1.3 million-$2.6 million). 

All three watches are pictured above.

 Related stories will be right here … 

The Geneva Watch Auction: XV is a live sale scheduled for May 7 and 8 at Hôtel La Réserve.

It follows another Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo auction, “The Royal Oak 50th,” a sale of 88 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watches, on May 6.

Like most of the fine jewelry and watch markets, Phillips is coming off a strong year, with sales for its Watches department totaling $209.3 million in 2021 and selling 100 percent of lots across all sale locations.

Alexandre Ghotbi, head of watches for Phillips in continental Europe and the Middle East, and Tiffany To, Geneva’s head of sale, said the Geneva sale is a “tightly curated” selection of timepieces that demonstrate the savoir-faire, and technical and design prowess of the watch industry.

“These are watches that will attract the budding enthusiast and speak to the seasoned collector. However, what they all have in common is their rarity, state of preservation, and relevance.”

For more on the upcoming Geneva auction, visit the Phillips website.
Michelle Graffis the editor-in-chief at National Jeweler, directing the publication’s coverage both online and in print.

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