There are a handful of documented important wrist and pocket watches out there that the world at large is still looking for. That means that they have not been publicly sold or located. This is a short list of twelve watches that we know to exist, have serious interest in, but have seemingly gone missing.
Pablo Picasso’s Jaeger-LeCoultre Triple Calendar + Rolex GMT-Master
Seen prominently in famed portrait photographer Yousuf Karsh’s image of Picasso, there is very little known about the Jaeger-LeCoultre triple calendar that can be seen on the 20th-century master’s wrist. But, the photo itself has a serious following and regularly sells for several thousands of dollars.
Caroline Murat’s Breguet No. 2639 (The First Wristwatch, Ever)
The first wristwatch in history is missing. Seriously. Breguet number 2639 hasn’t been seen since a direct descendent of the Queen of Naples sent it for service back in 1855. I saw the original entry in the Breguet archives while visiting the Breguet museum in Paris, and it’s worth a read here and a visit if you are ever in town.
Marlon Brando As Colonel Kurtz’s Rolex GMT-Master
Image via Jake’s Rolex World
Marlon Brando’s performance as Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now is down right legendary, but did you know he wear wearing a bezel-less Rolex GMT-Master on a tropic strap? He was. There isn’t much information on how this obviously real-world worn GMT got on the wrist of Brando, nor where it went after filming, but this is one for the ages. You can read more on Brando’s life as a Rolex wearerhere.
The OTHER Graves Astronomic Complication
After Henry Graves, Jr.’s Supercomplication sold for over $11,000,000 back in 1999 nobody knew where it went. Until it was revealed that it belonged to the Qatari Royal Family. But, there is another watch that nobody knows much about, it’s never been publicly sold, and it could be another multi-million-dollar watch. If you look at a photograph of Graves’ Patek collection, you can see that atop the pile is the Supercomp, but right below it appears to be another astronomical complication pocketwatch. Back at the 2012 Graves sale at Sotheby’s, the box for this would-be watch sold – andsold for $30,000. For a box. Yes, something tells us somebody on the other side of that bid might have an idea where this other mega Graves watch might be sleeping. Should it ever surface, we’re looking at a big, big watch.
Paul Newman’s Paul Newman Rolex Daytona 6239
Image via Jake’s Rolex World
Ok, we kinda know where this one is. Paul Newman’s five Daytonas, as far as we know, still reside with his immediate family members, and that includes the absolutely game-changing 6239 he is wearing in the photo above. It is arguably the watch that set the modern vintage Rolex collecting world into the stratosphere in which is currently resides, and there is no telling how much Paul Newman’s personal Paul Newman might be worth. Though, I do suspect we will find out one day.
Buzz Aldrin’s Omega Speedmaster
This could very well be the most important wristwatch of the 20th century, lost. Neil Armstrong wore his Omega Speedmaster to the moon, but not on it. His module’s mission timer failed, so he left it on board. Buzz Aldrin, however, wore his Speedy on the lunar surface and thereby his watch became the stuff of legends. But did you know that upon return, Aldrin’s watch was lost or stolen on its way to the Smithsonian? It was. Armstrong’s Omega made it, but Armstrong’s Omega wasn’t the first watch on the moon. There have been a handful of folks claiming to have possession of Aldrin’s Omega, but none appear to have been credible. It is likely that the person who took the Aldrin Omega had no idea of its significance, but at this point, it’s fair to say this is one of the great horological mysteries of the modern era – where is Buzz Aldrin’s Omega Speedmaster?
Jean-Claude Killy’s Jean-Claude Killy Dato-Compax
Jean-Claude Killy was / is a super cool guy. I mean, just look at him. The ski racing champ went on to a prolific career in sports management and business, and eventually found himself on the board of Rolex itself. Though there is little documentation of him actually wearing a Dato-Compax Rolex, it is known that he owned one. In fact, some years ago, I had the chance to meet Mr. Killy and I asked him where that original Dato-Compax was. He told me that his best friend at the time loved the watch, and he gave it to him for his wedding. If that friend still has Jean-Claude Killy’s Jean-Claude Killy is unknown.
John Lennon’s Patek Philippe 2499
Image via Beatles Photo Blog
This is one not too many people know about, and it’s unclear if he even owned the watch or if he was just wearing it in one photograph, but there very well could be such a thing as the “John Lennon Patek Philippe 2499,” and that is just crazy. The 2499 is one of the most iconic, desirable, and valuable timepieces on the planet, and one belonging to a Beatle? Well, you can imagine how a collector might be interested in that. The rumor is that Yoko bought John the Patek for his 40th birthday, though that is wholly unsubstantiated.
Fidel Castro’s Rolex GMT-Master
Image via Reddit.com
Castro is a life-long Rolex fan. He can be seen wearing one of at least three Rollies in any number of photographs, including this one where he is seen in a 1675. He has also been spotted in an earlier no crown guard, bakelite bezel 6542, and a Datejust. Where are his watches now? We can only assume still with him or his family, though I once met a man in Italy who claimed to own Castro’s 6542.
Miles Davis’ Breitling Navitimer
Image via Magnum Photos
Miles Davis was a Navitimer guy? Yup, sure was, as seen in this photo. Nobody knows where this jazzman’s timepiece is, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it sprouted up one day. What makes it interesting is that the watch can bee seen in some of the most famous photos of Davis ever taken, by Magnum photographer Dennis Stock. More on it here.
President Johnson’s Rolex Day-Date
Image via Jake’s Rolex World
While Presidents wore Rolexes before Johnson, it was LBJ’s yellow gold Day-Date that can be credited with inspiring the term “President” for this flagship model. Of course, “President” actually refers to the hidden clasp style of bracelet often found on the Day-Date, but when an accompanying advertisement showed this watch on this bracelet as the “President’s watch,” that was that. More on the LBJ Rolex here.