Apocalypse Now, The Godfather, A Streetcar Named Desire, Guys and Dolls… Marlon Brando’s filmography is a crash course in fantastic cinema. His portrayal of Kurtz in Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam War masterpiece is as captivating as he is insane. At the same time, it proved to be a major moment for watches in cinema because the Rolex GMT-Master Ref. 1675 he wore has become legendary, and now its up for auction again.
The watch in question is unlike any other GMT-Master in the world for a number of reasons. First and foremost, Marlon Brando hand-engraved his name into the caseback, proving beyond all doubt the watch’s providence. He also had it customised to reflect the austere character of Kurtz by putting it on a sombre black strap instead of a bracelet and replacing the characteristic day/night GMT bezel with a steel ring.
Combined with the black dial and hyper legible hour markers, these adjustments make the watch instantly recognisable and give it a tactical appearance. It almost looks like a GMT-Master x Explorer hybrid. Oddly, the fact that the watch has become so famous is almost against Brando’s wishes. The director and set staff asked him not to wear it but Brando refused, reportedly telling them that if people noticed his watch, then he’d failed as an actor.
In terms of the watch’s auction history, the watch was thought to be lost until it suddenly emerged in 2019 at a Phillips auction. It had been in the family of Marlon Brando’s adopted daughter Petra until then. At that auction it was sold for $1,952,000 to a collector called Mohammed Zaman. Now, the watch is being sold again, this time by Christie’s as part of a wider private collection sale of Mr Zaman’s watches. It has an estimate of CHF 1,000,000 – 2,000,000.
While Marlon Brando’s Apocalypse Now Rolex GMT-Master Ref. 1675 is the headline grabber, there are plenty of other watches that watch enthusiasts will be excited by at the auction. A Philippe Dufour Grande et Petite Sonnerie with an estimate of CHF 4,000,000 – 6,000,000 million. A George Daniels Anniversary No. 00 and a Rolex 6062, both with million+ estimates too.
The auction, titled “Passion for Time, a Historically Important and Valuable Private Collection” is set to take place on November 6th in Geneva. Although, this isn’t the only landmark private collection auction in November and we’ll have details of another soon. Keep an eye out for that.
More details at Christie’s.