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Auction Watch: Four American Icons, Four of their Personal Watches

June 15, 2017

BY Paul Altieri


Jackie Kennedy, Bob Hope, LBJ, and Joe DiMaggio. These are just a few of the names linked to the watches that Christie’s will be auctioning off this summer. Named the “Rare Watches and American Icons” event, the auction will take place June 21, 2017, at the Rockefeller Center in New York City.

Considering the provenance of these watches, we’re excited to see what kind of results this Christie’s auction will bring. So without further ado, let’s have a look at the goods.

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Jacqueline Kennedy’s Cartier Watch

Given Jackie’s elegance and sophistication, it comes as no surprise that she would own a tasteful Cartier watch. The 18k yellow gold Cartier Tank was actually gifted to her by her brother-in-law, Prince Stanislaw “Stas” Radziwill in 1963. The words “Stas to Jackie 23 Feb. 63 2:05 am to 9:35 pm” are engraved on the watch’s caseback. This message is in reference to the beginning and ending times of a private Kennedy 50 Mile Hike. This Palm Beach event was part of a nationwide challenge set forth by President Kennedy in an effort to promote fitness for all.

American Icons

Jacqueline Kennedy’s Cartier Watch will be up for auction. (Credit: Christie’s)

The best part about Jackie’s Cartier is that it didn’t just sit in a jewelry box, but rather, it was almost always on her wrist. Truly her daily watch. The estimate of this lot (including a painting she made for Stas) ranges from $60,000 to $120,000. Moreover, a portion of the proceeds will go to the National Endowment for the Arts.

Lyndon B. Johnson’s Hamilton Watch

Although the watch that President LBJ is most closely associated with is the Rolex Day-Date a.k.a. the President, he had plenty of watches in his personal collection. While the Day-Date is  the international symbol of success he also has a Hamilton. One of them is this two-tone Hamilton quartz watch with an asymmetrical case, circa 1958. This was of course prior to his presidency. In fact, the caseback features the engraving, “Presented to Senator Lyndon B. Johnson by the McDowell County Democrats, Welch. V. VA. Oct. 18-58.”

American Icons

Lyndon B. Johnson’s Hamilton Watch is certainly unique in shape. (Credit: Christie’s)

The Hamilton watch that belonged to then-Senator Johnson and the eventual 36th American President—along with photos of him wearing it—is estimated to sell for $15,000-30,000.

Joe DiMaggio’s Audemars Piguet Watch

Moving away from politics to America’s favorite pastime, Christie’s will feature a few pieces that belonged to Joe DiMaggio. An absolute legend in baseball, Joe DiMaggio played for the New York Yankees. While “Joltin’ Joe” passed away in 1999, he still holds the record for the longest hitting streak in Major League Baseball with 56 games. One of his timepieces was an 18k white gold square Audemars Piguet watch from 1962. The Audemars Piguet archives confirm that the watch sold in 1962 in Valduz, Liechtenstein. Plus, it was also gifted to the Baseball Hall of Famer that same year.  The caseback of this AP watch is engraved with, “TO JOE FROM AARON, OCT. 1962.”

American Icons

Joe DiMaggio’s Audemars Piguet Watch displays how successful he was. (Credit: Christie’s)

Along with Joe DiMaggio’s watch is the original Audemars Piguet box in addition to a Letter of Provenance from the DiMaggio family. The lot’s pre-sale estimate is $25,000-30,000.

Bob Hope’s Jaeger-LeCoultre

Another “Bob” that’s dear to our hearts is American personality, Bob Hope. During his incredible 80-year career, Bob Hope entertained the nation with his comedy, singing, and acting. What’s more, during much of his career, Bob Hope entertained American troops all over the world. Unbeknownst to some, in addition to bringing joy to the troops, Bob Hope also entertained “The City of Hope” residents. And it was this work that brought this particular 14k yellow gold Jaeger-LeCoultre ref. 2721 triple calendar watch into his life. As a matter of fact, the engraving, “FROM THE PHILA COMMITTEE OF THE LOS ANGELES SANATORIUM, “THE CITY OF HOPE,” TO AMERICA’S BOB HOPE, 11-6-47″ is on the caseback. There are more details on this Jaeger-LeCoultre on Christie’s. Be sure to catch a glimpse of this watch in LA or NYC.

American Icons

Bob Hope’s Jaeger-LeCoultre is sure to turn heads at this auction. (Credit: Christie’s)

Bob Hope’s Jaeger LeCoultre watch, along with a photograph of the star and an “Entertaining the Troops” DVD, comes with a pre-sale estimate of $25,000-30,000.

Prior to the sale, Christie’s will also host previews in LA (June 6 – 9) and in NYC (June 16 – 20).

These personal watches of the four great American personalities discussed above are just a handful among many others that will be up for auction. Offering a little piece of American heritage, these timepieces are important not only to watch fans but to Americana enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

Which of these historically important watches would you add to your collection?





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