The late Anthony Bourdain went from scrappy Midtown Manhattan chef to a globally revered culinary genius before his demons finally caught up with him in 2018, resulting in his tragic suicide. Those with a sharp eye frequently noticed that he was something of a luxury watch enthusiast, and his blue-dial Rolex Date was his constant companion on many an epic adventure into the “parts unknown” of our planet and its myriad foodstuffs.
Now the watch collection belonging to the famed TV personality, who has inspired so many to pursue a career in the restaurant business, is coming up for auction along with some of his other prized possessions, with 40% of the proceeds going towards a scholarship at the Culinary Institute of America, which he graduated from in 1978.
Anthony Bourdain’s Watch Collection
The online sale is being handled by iGavel Auctions and runs through October 30th, but you shouldn’t expect any screaming deals on any of Bourdain’s eight timepieces just because the internet auction site isn’t very well known. Already his star power has pushed bidding on what is attractive but otherwise unremarkable and not terribly valuable pieces well past their pre-sale estimates.
The current bid on his classically-styled Rolex (at the time of this writing) had reached $10,000, and all of the pieces will carry a 25% buyer’s premium on top of the winning bid. Additionally, the current bid for Bourdain’s Panerai Radiomir, a classically understated watch with impressive military heritage, has exceeded $12,000 as of press time (Panerai is something of a cult favorite watch among chefs, though most opt for the more robust Luminor).
Current running a close third for the highest bid is his 18k gold Patek Philippe Calatrava, which has reached $9,750 (at the time of writing). His only true true vintage piece, a rose gold c.1930 Rolex dress watch with an inscription on the back indicating that it was presented to some sort of retiring executive, is looking quite affordable at $3,700. A personal favorite is his TAG Heuer Monaco re-issue with a classic blue dial and square sub-dials – very Steve McQueen – with a current bid of $4,100. And of lesser interest are two other everyday watches, a Ball Standard Fireman Storm Chaser and a Filson “Smokey the Bear” watch, with current bids of $2,000 and $1,550, respectively.
The Oyster Date, Patek, and Panerai are obviously the most desirable pieces. How much of a premium you should pay for them really depends on what Bourdain means to you because there is certainly no guarantee that his timepieces will ever acquire Paul Newman’s status.
*All images courtesy of iGavel Auctions