Elvis Presley’s Omega Fetches King’s Ransom at Antiquorum Auction

Elvis Presley's Omega Constellation “Thank you, thank you very much!”

That’s what the folks at Antiquorum Auctioneers might be saying today to the private collector who acquired the showcase piece at this week’s auction in New York, an Omega Constellation once owned by the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Presley. The watch sold for an astounding $52,500, five times its pre-sale estimate and a world record for that reference.

Elvis’s Omega, a rare, black-dialed Constellation Calendar produced around 1960, was the most high-profile of 269 timepieces on the block at Antiquorum’s “Important Vintage and Modern Timepieces” auction, held at its Manhattan headquarters on June 12. The watch has an automatic chronometer movement with center seconds and date and a steel case with rose-gold plating. Antiquorum put the pre-sale estimate at $10,000 to $20,000, but bids for the coveted piece of rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia quickly escalated to a final hammer price of $52,500. The winning bidder received, in addition to the watch, a letter of attestation from Charlie Hodge, the watch’s onetime owner, a longtime friend and confidant of Presley and a member of the so-called “Memphis Mafia.”

Elvis Presley's Omega Constellation

Lot 192: Elvis Presley’s Omega Constellation. Inset photos, left to right: the watch’s caseback; Private Elvis Presley wearing the watch; Charlie Hodge (on the left) with Elvis and an unidentified sailor

Antiquorum watch expert Nathaniel Borgelt told WatchTime about the Omega’s provenance. “Elvis gave the watch to Hodge while in the army after Hodge expressed his admiration of the piece,” Borgelt said. “To quote Charlie, ‘Several times I told Elvis how beautiful his watch was, and I said, “One of these days I’m going to buy one of those.” Elvis said, “Charlie, you don’t have to wait any longer,” and he took it off his wrist and gave it to me.’”

“We are exceptionally pleased with the result for Elvis Presley’s Omega Constellation in today’s sale,” said Evan Zimmermann, president and CEO of Antiquorum Auctioneers. “Antiquorum is proud to add to its growing list of world records for timepieces with important provenance that includes Gandhi’s Zenith pocket watch, Steve McQueen’s Rolex and Einstein’s Longines.”

While the King’s watch garnered much of the attention, other watches in the sale dwarfed it in terms of dollars, with the highest prices achieved, as per usual, by Patek Philippe.

The top lot by value was a very rare Patek Philippe Ref. 5016, in a yellow-gold case with custom grey dial never before used on that reference, made in 2001. It contains a one-minute tourbillon, retrograde perpetual calendar, moon-phase indicator and minute repeater. This piece was the object of a furious bidding war between two phone bidders, ultimately selling to one of them, a Chinese collector, for an impressive $542,500.

Patek Philippe Ref. 5016 yellow gold

Lot 269: Patek Philippe Ref. 5016 in yellow gold

Another standout from Patek Philippe was a Ref. 3974 in yellow gold, produced in 1992. This watch has a minute repeater, perpetual calendar, leap-year indicator, and moon-phases.  Accompanied by its original mahogany box and a certificate of origin, it sold for a breathtaking $380,500. Among the other highest-earning Pateks were discontinued models like the Ref. 5885, the Ref. 5098 “Gondolo,” and the Ref. 5036.

Patek Philippe Ref. 3974 yellow gold

Lot 268: Patek Philippe Ref. 3974 in yellow gold

Rounding out the top three in value is Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Gyrotourbillon 1, made in a limited edition of 75 pieces in platinum. This highly complicated  wristwatch, sold in 2008, contains JLC Caliber 177, with an inclined, lightweight, two-cage, multi-axis spherical tourbillon; two barrels with sapphire covers; an eight-day power reserve; equation of time, perpetual calendar, retrograde month, and leap-year indication; and a patented, instant date display by means of two retrograde hands. Accompanied by its original box, its final sale price was $314,500.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Gyrotourbillon 1

Lot 88: Jaeger-LeCoultre Gyrotourbillon 1 in platinum

Other noteworthy timepieces included an A. Lange & Söhne “Pour le Merite” tourbillon watch in yellow gold, which sold for $188,500; Ulysse Nardin’s “Trilogy of Time,” a set of three platinum astronomical watches, which went for $164,500, nearly twice its low pre-sale estimate; and Bovet’s “The Elephant and the Snake,” an enamel-and-pearl set pocketwatch from the 19th century, which fielded a winning bid of $74,500.

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    About Mark Bernardo

    Mark Bernardo is the digital media editor of WatchTime magazine, responsible for developing and overseeing the editorial content on WatchTime.com as well as for WatchTime's tablet editions for the iPad, Nook, and Kindle. As WatchTime's managing editor, from 2006 through 2011, he has written about numerous watch companies from major brands like Omega, TAG Heuer and Piaget, to exclusive artisan lines such as Jean Dunand, De Bethune and DeWitt. Prior to joining WatchTime, he was the editor of Smoke, a lifestyle magazine for cigar enthusiasts, whose beats included cigars, watches, cars, wines and spirits, celebrities, men's fashion, and other subjects, and has written about luxury items for a variety of men's-interest publications, including Robb Report, Robb Report Motorcycling, Stratos, Worth, and Bloomberg Markets.

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