From Jackie O and her classy Cartier to Elvis Presley’s shield-shaped Hamilton, here’s our pick of the most iconic watches worn by some of the most famous stars in history
In today’s era of brand ambassadors and paid product placement it’s hard to know whether celebrities choose their watches or just enjoy the one supplied to them as a perk of the job.
To find out what brands are really loved by famous faces it’s worth jumping back a few years to some of the most iconic actors, actresses and socialites of the golden age of Hollywood.
Here’s our rundown of the timepieces worn by the rich and famous of a bygone era…
Grace Kelly and her Rolex Lady Date
Within the space of two years in the mid-1950s Grace Kelly had bagged herself an Oscar and married Prince Rainier of Monaco – making her acting royalty and actual royalty.
It’s easy to argue that there are only two watch brands worthy of a princess – Rolex and Patek – and Grace chose the former. She was regularly snapped wearing a yellow gold Rolex Lady Date in a petite 26mm size, and similar versions of the piece are still available to buy today.
Steve McQueen and his TAG Heuer Monaco
Fans of racing in all its forms will undoubtedly have heard of the TAG Heuer Monaco, which was famously chosen by Steve McQueen to adorn his wrist in the 1970 film ‘Le Mans’. Interestingly, the Monaco was also the world’s first square automatic chronograph, with square chronograph counters, red-orange hands and a blue alligator strap.
This iconic model is still available to purchase today in a number of different guises, including this striking option with a blue dial and red accents (pictured above).
RRP £4,050 Shop
Elizabeth Taylor and the Bulgari Serpenti
When she passed away in 2011 Elizabeth Taylor left behind a veritable treasure trove of diamond jewellery and diamond-encrusted watches, which were later sold at auction by Christie’s. Among all of her precious objects, none of them meant more to the star than those created by Italian design house Bulgari. In fact, her on-again-off-again husband Richard Burton famously quipped “I introduced Liz to beer, she introduced me to Bulgari”.
Elizabeth’s Bulgari Serpenti watch (pictured) sold for a staggering $974,500 in December 2011 – more than 60 times its pre-sale estimate. The design continues to be one of the brand’s most popular to this day, with most pieces blurring the lines between secret watch, high jewellery watch and functional timepiece.
Paul Newman and his Rolex Daytona
Nothing is written into watch lore like Paul Newman and his iconic Daytona, which he wore regularly up until the 1990s. Anyone with a smidge of knowledge about Rolex knows that the Daytona is perhaps the most covetable and collectible of all the brand’s pieces, but certain conditions need to be met before a vintage Daytona can be nicknamed a ‘Paul Newman Daytona’; specifically the design style on the sub-dials.
More modern versions of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona chronograph are available to buy today, but stick to one with a white face to mimic Paul Newman’s choice. The piece pictured above is available pre-owned allowing you to get the look for a little less…
Buy for £10,250 Shop
James Dean’s lucky Elgin pocket watch
James Dean achieved a kind of mythical status during his short time on earth (he died aged just 24 in a road accident), resulting in the Academy Awards giving him the first-ever posthumous Oscar.
Instead of wearing a wristwatch, the actor carried around a ‘Standard USA’ Elgin pocket watch – originally made in 1889 – which he believed was his good luck charm. The case of the watch was engraved with his initials and featured a simple white dial and a gold chain, gifted by Dean’s father. It later sold at auction for HK$260,000 (£33,519) – a figure more than three times its estimate.
Elvis Presley and his Hamilton Ventura
Elvis Presley and his Hamilton watch have one thing in common…they’e both American classics! The King famously wore a shield-shaped Hamilton Ventura in his 1961 movie ‘Blue Hawaii’ and the piece was given a contemporary revamp in 2015. The ELVIS80 Auto (pictured above) reminds us of Danny Zuko’s Greased Lightnin’, and it’s perfect for anyone who wants to strap a bit of Americana to their wrist.