Watches owned and worn by Hollywood icons have proven to be some of the biggest money makers at auction, especially if it’s a Rolex. Just look at the actual Daytona owned by Paul Newman that sold for over $17 million late last year (currently the most expensive watch publically sold at auction). Similarly, expect this vintage Rolex Submariner — owned, worn and eventually gifted by Steve McQueen — to command a great deal of money when it makes its way to auction. And like Newman’s watch, there’s an incredible story behind it.
According to Phillips listing, this Submariner Ref. 5513 dates to 1964 and is the earliest-known McQueen Submariner in existence. McQueen kept the watch until the mid-to-late ’70s when he gifted it to Loren Janes, McQueen’s longtime stunt double and friend. McQueen started working with Janes on the set of the Western TV drama Wanted: Dead or Alive and grew to appreciate his work so much that he requested Janes to work as his stunt double for every project in which their schedules aligned. As such, Janes worked on 19 of McQueen’s 27 major motion pictures.
The watch has stayed in the Janes family until it recently sold to the current cosigner. It even survived the Sand Fire outside of Los Angeles in 2016 which destroyed Janes’ home. The watch was found within the rubble and sent to Rolex for restoration. While some key elements were refurbished and replaced (including the dial), the case back adorned with McQueen’s endearing engraving — “TO LOREN, THE BEST DAMN STUNTMAN IN THE WORLD. STEVE” — remains.
Phillips will auction the watch off on October 25th, 2018 and estimates a sale price somewhere between $300,000 and $600,000. A portion of the proceeds will go to benefit the Boys Republic, a school rehabilitating at-risk teens (McQueen attended the school in his youth) as well as surviving members of the Janes family.
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