Monochrome Watches
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Eisenhower’s Heuer, Jordan’s Datograph, Bond’s Submariner… Missing in Action

They have all disappeared... but we'd love to know where they are!

| By Nick Gould | 5 min read |

Some watches have gained true cult status, mostly because of who wore them. Notable actors, men of political and historical importance, some of the greatest pilots or even space heroes who walked on the Moon. Not only are these watches great horological objects, but their background has given them an unbeatable aura, which extends far beyond the small circle of watch enthusiasts. Some years ago, Ben Clymer of Hodinkee published a list of 12 great watches that were known to exist but that were MIA (missing in action). Since then, a couple of them have resurfaced; however, today we are going to look at five other lost watches that we’d love to see reappear. 

Buzz Aldrin during the Apollo 11 mission, his Speedmaster on the wrist.

Many watches that have built up the reputation of a certain model have been lost. Take for instance Buzz Aldrin’s Omega Speedmaster, one of the two actual watches that gave this model its “Moonwatch” name. What about Jean-Claude Killy’s Rolex Killy? Or Fidel Castro’s Rolex GMT-Master? In recent years, we’ve seen several important models resurface. For instance, in 2017 and to much fanfare, Paul Newman’s own Rolex Daytona 6239 “Paul Newman” – the actual watch that gave this specific exotic dial version its name – appeared out of the blue. The watch, offered by Newman’s family at auction, achieved a whopping USD 17.8m, making it the most expensive Rolex ever auctioned.

Paul Newman's Paul Newman Rolex Daytona - phillips New York Auction - Credits Douglas Kirkland - Corbis via Getty Images
Paul Newman with his Rolex Daytona 6239 “Paul Newman” – Photo by Douglas Kirkland Corbis via Getty Images

In the same vein, the bezel-less Rolex GMT-Master Reference 1675 owned and worn by Marlon Brando’s character Colonel Walter E. Kurtz in Apocalypse Now was put up for sale by his daughter, Petra Brando Fischer in 2019, and fetched USD 1.95m with Phillips. Pablo Picasso’s Jaeger-LeCoultre Triple Date Moonphase was on the list but has not surfaced yet, although in 2019 I discovered that his daughter Paloma Picasso had the watch in her possession and gifted it to her first husband, Rafael López-Cambil.

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With this in mind, I thought it would be a good time to add a few more interesting timepieces owned by notable people, which I have come across recently and that are missing. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if they reappeared?

Dan Gurney’s Breguet Diver

In 2019, I published an article on Dan Gurney and his previously unknown Breguet dive watch. This was the first photograph that documented someone wearing the timepiece, which has always been shrouded in mystery. Other examples have come up for sale in the past, with extracts from the archives confirming Breguet made the watches. Gurney’s Breguet would be the coolest of the bunch if it came up for sale.

Dan Gurney, Grand Prix of Great Britain, Silverstone, 10 July 1965. (Photo by Bernard Cahier/Getty Images)

Dizzy Gillespie’s Patek Philippe 1463 Chronograph

American trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie made the original missing watches list for his first-generation Rolex Reference 6542 GMT-Master. He also owned a yellow gold Patek Philippe Reference 1463 chronograph, which is noted for being the first water-resistant chronograph from the Geneva Maison. Gillespie wore it often and it was spotted on his wrist at the 1968 Newport Jazz Festival.

American jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie (1917-1993) performing live at the Newport Jazz Festival in Newport, Rhode Island on 5 July 1968, his Patek Philippe 1463 on the wrist. Photo by David Redfern/Redferns
An example of yellow gold 1463 – photo by Artcurial

General Dwight Eisenhower’s Heuer Reference 2447 Chronograph

In 1946, Casa Masson, a Rio de Janeiro jeweller, ran an advertisement featuring a picture of General Dwight Eisenhower and a Heuer chronograph. Until March 2020, nobody knew the exact model he owned. I happened to come across several photographs that clearly showed which model graced Eisenhower’s wrist. With the assistance of vintage Heuer specialist Jeff Stein of On The Dash, we were able to identify it was a Heuer Reference 2447 NR (with the “N” indicating a black dial and the “R” showing the use of radium), with a tachymeter scale on the dial.

General of the Army and Supreme Commander, Dwight D. Eisenhower sat for this portrait during a press conference. On his wrist, a Heuer 2447 RN Black Dial Chronograph

Michael Jordan’s A. Lange & Söhne Datograph on platinum bracelet

Compared to the watches on this list, the A. Lange & Söhne Datograph is a more modern timepiece. However, if you knew who owned it, it would increase its value exponentially. Earlier this year I came across a 2002 photo of NBA legend and whom many consider the greatest player of all time, Michael Jordan, sporting an A. Lange & Söhne Datograph. What made the find even cooler was the fact that he was wearing the watch on a factory-sourced platinum bracelet. The Datograph was launched in 1999 and even in 2002 was still a relatively unknown model to many in the watch world – which makes MJ owning one that little bit more special.

Michael Jordan and Jerry Stackhouse of the Washington Wizards watch their team playing on 14 October 2002 in Philadelphia. MJ had his Platinum Datograph on a bracelet on the wrist. Copyright NBAE 2002, Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images

Sean Connery’s Rolex Submariner 6538, worn in Goldfinger

In October 2020, the world mourned the passing of Sean Connery, the first actor to portray British secret agent James Bond on the silver screen. In the third Bond film Goldfinger, the Rolex Submariner Reference 6538 appeared in the pre-title sequence when Bond was consulting the time with the aid of his cigarette lighter. This scene cemented the Submariner in horological history and now the Reference 6538 is nicknamed the “James Bond”. Surprisingly, this watch has never surfaced but it would be very interesting to find out where it is hiding!

5 responses

  1. It would be interesting to know what happened to the original Cartier Pasha of 1932

  2. Seans Rolex will “appear” from nowhere with a slightly unbelievable story but the story itself will seem benign enough, it will be a complete con job but the watch guys just won’t care, as long as we can worship it, they will live with the lie. It’s how it’s done in cults and the money helps us “believe” because ” no one would pay millions for a fake story ! ” Or would they ?

  3. In Michael Jordan photo, Jerry Stackhouse is with a IWC Portugieser chrono… affordable and cool

  4. Eisenhower’s Heuer is the one I’d most like to own. It wouldn’t even need to be his. An exact duplicate, fresh out of the box please! Oh, and a Daytona like Paul Newman’s.

  5. I want all of them! Nwahahahahaha! Bwahahahahaha! All mine, mine, mine!!!! Actually, a brand new, fresh out of the box Heuer like General Eisenhower’s, is the one I’d most like to wear.

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