As you may have heard, the Marlon Brando “Apocalypse Now” Rolex GMT-Master Ref. 1675 will be auctioned at Phillips this fall.

Brando’s Rolex GMT-Master will be offered alongside Jack Niclaus’ legendary Rolex Day-Date, in the New York auction called Game Changers on December 10, 2019. A portion of the proceeds from the Brando lot and all of the proceeds from the Nicklaus lot will go to charity.

Another Brando-owned timepiece sold at auction in May, although that watch was not one he personally wore. And we already know what a Rolex that was personally worn by someone as famous as Brando can command so it will be interesting to see the final hammer on this one since he did, in fact, wear it regularly. Accordingly, Paul Boutros, the Head of Watches for Phillips’ America, told the New York Times, the starting bid will be “in the six figures.”

Marlon Brando Rolex 1675 GMT-Master
Marlon Brando Rolex 1675 GMT-Master

This Rolex reference 1675 GMT-Master was manufactured in 1972 and the condition is good but the watch is missing its factory bracelet (instead it includes an aftermarket rubber strap), the dial is a service dial meaning it was replaced by Rolex at some point (although the patina on the new dial is quite even and matches the hands), and most notably the bezel is missing. However, according to Phillips, the dial, hands, case, crystal, and crown are all original.

Marlon Brando on the Set of Apocalypse Now Rolex
Marlon Brando on the Set of Apocalypse Now wearing Rolex GMT, Photo by Mary Ellen Mark

Worn by Brando in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 movie Apocalypse Now, the GMT-Master is seen (pictured) on the wrist of Colonel Walter E. Kurtz, played by Brando. Long thought to have been lost, perhaps the most interesting discovery that has come to light is the personalized caseback. According to Boutros, Brando engraved his name “M. Brando” in the steel caseback himself with an electronic engraver pen.

Marlon Brando Rolex 1675 GMT-Master caseback
Marlon Brando Rolex 1675 GMT-Master caseback engraved by Brando himself

Remaining in Brando’s possession until 1995, he gifted it to his daughter, Petra Brando Fischer, as a present following her graduation from Brown University in 1994. Brando told Petra that he wore the watch to the set of Apocalypse Now in the Philippines, and he was told that he had to remove it during filming, as it would stand out. (The original bezel was a bright red and blue “Pepsi” bezel.) He said that the filmmakers let him wear the watch, but he removed the bezel, resulting in a unique looking piece that is associated with Colonel Kurtz.

Brando Family - Petra with Marlon and her mother Caroline Barrett at her graduation from Brown University in May 1994, courtesy of Petra Brando
Brando Family – Petra with Marlon and her mother Caroline Barrett at her graduation from Brown University in May 1994, courtesy of Petra Brando

Petra later gifted the watch to her husband, Russel, in 2003 as a wedding present. He never wore it but has decided it’s a good time to sell it. So coming this December, Phillips will try to successfully land the one-two punch, with two of the year’s most important Rolex sales going under the hammer the same night.

Learn more at Phillips.

Brando Family - Petra with Marlon and Russel Fischer taken in May 1998, courtesy of Petra Brando
Brando Family – Petra with Marlon and Russel Fischer taken in May 1998, courtesy of Petra Brando
Jason Pitsch
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