Phillips is honored to present the cherished wristwatch of the greatest champion in the history of professional golf, Jack Nicklaus – also known as the Golden Bear. This Rolex Day‐Date Reference 1803 in yellow gold has graced the wrist of Mr. Nicklaus nearly every day since he received it as a gift from Rolex in 1967 and was present when he won 12 of his record 18 professional major championship titles — often photographed when Jack Nicklaus hoisted the championship trophy following his victories. The Day‐Date is Rolex’s most prestigious model and one of the world’s most famous watches.
Jack Nicklaus’ Yellow Gold Day-Date Ref. 1803
Originally launched in 1956, the Day‐Date, with its famous “President” bracelet, was the first wristwatch to feature a date and fully spelled‐out day of the week indication on its dial. The sporty elegance of the Day‐Date is appealing to a variety of consumers around the world, due to its versatility, robustness, and elegance, enduring for over six decades as one of the most popular and sought after Rolex models. In 18-karat yellow gold and fitted with a stunning and extremely rare champagne‐ colored “pie‐pan”‐style dial, with tapered and faceted baton hour- markers —reminiscent of golf tees — Phillips is especially proud to announce that all of the sale proceeds will directly benefit the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation when it is auctioned on 10 December 2019.
Jack Nicklaus at the 1978 British Open. Courtesy of the Nicklaus Companies
“This is the very first watch I ever owned, and the only watch I wore for every professional tournament I’ve won throughout my career,” Jack Nicklaus said. “It has accompanied me at U.S. Opens, Masters Tournaments, PGA Championships, Open Championships and countless other events for over five decades, and has served me well at every step along the way. Parting ways with this watch is certainly bittersweet. While I will certainly miss the opportunity of wearing the watch and having it serve as a constant reminder of some of my life’s most memorable moments I know that parting with it will help countless children and families impacted through the work of the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation. I have said many times that the work being done by our Foundation and Nicklaus Children’s Hospital is far more rewarding than any 4-foot putt I made to win a golf tournament. So to know that 100% of the money raised from the sale of something on my wrist that I have treasured for over a half-century will directly benefit pediatric care is a treasure of the heart. I also want to thank Phillips for contributing its profits to this great cause.”
Paul Boutros, Phillips Head of Watches, Americas, added, “A tour‐de‐force of athleticism and philanthropy, Jack Nicklaus is the greatest golfer of all time, revered by sports fans around the world. We are honored to present this superb Rolex Day‐Date Reference 1803 in our December auction — the watch that was on his wrist celebrating the many historic milestones that marked his illustrious career. With its incredible provenance and timeless aesthetics, we look forward to seeing an enthusiastic response from collectors, golf fans, and charitable supporters, who, in addition to vying for one of the greatest timepieces associated with an iconic sports legend, will have the opportunity to raise funds to positively impact the lives of children. We are truly honored to help Jack and his wife Barbara in these efforts.”
This particular Rolex’s history begins in the late 1960s. While attending the Canada Cup in Tokyo in 1966, Mr. Nicklaus was offered a watch of his choice during a Rolex cocktail event that he attended with golf icons Gary Player and Arnold Palmer. Mr. Player, who was sponsored by Rolex at the time, recommended that Mr. Nicklaus choose the gold Day‐Date on display. Having never previously owned a watch, Mr. Nicklaus decided to take his friend’s advice. Mr. Nicklaus received his golden Rolex Reference 1803 — aptly matching his famous moniker, Golden Bear — the following year in 1967, the same year he won his second U.S. Open and set the U.S. Open scoring record at 275. Although he eventually acquired a number of watches throughout his lifetime, Mr. Nicklaus has revealed that this Rolex is the wristwatch that he wore daily and that barely left his wrist for 50 years.
An original inductee of the World Golf Hall of Fame, Mr. Nicklaus played his first full professional season in 1962 at the age of 22. That same year, he began cementing his place as one of the greatest golfers in the world, with his first career in and major championship victory at the U.S. Open in Oakmont, Pennsylvania, where he defeated golf legend and close friend Arnold Palmer. Mr. Nicklaus’ rapid success earned him the reputation of being the game’s most dominant player, and launched him on a quarter-century run that would include 120 professional wins worldwide, 73 PGA TOUR victories, 18 of which were major championship titles.
Courtesy of Jim Mandeville / Nicklaus Companies
With a career spanning five decades, Nicklaus would become one of only five golfers to win all four of golf’s modern majors, known in the golf world as achieving a “Grand Slam.” Nicklaus’ success on and off the course has earned him several prominent accolades. With honors and titles such as “The Most Powerful Person in Golf,” “Golfer of the Century,” and “Best Individual Male Athlete of the 20th Century’’ under his belt, Mr. Nicklaus continued to use his success as a platform for the greater good of others. That impact led to him being honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the country’s highest civilian honor — and the Congressional Gold Medal, which is the highest recognition by the United States Congress. Mr. Nicklaus was the 7th athlete (3rd golfer) to receive the Congressional Gold Medal and only the 17th person to receive both the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. More notably, Mr. Nicklaus is just the 4th person in history—and the 1st athlete—to be honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2005), the Congressional Gold Medal (2015) and the Lincoln Medal (2018).
Mr. Nicklaus has dedicated himself to the well‐being of children around the globe. In 2004, Mr. Nicklaus and his wife, Barbara, established the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, to provide families access to world‐class pediatric health care. Collaborating with pediatric hospitals across the United States, the Foundation supports innovative programs focused on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of childhood illnesses. Its efforts include support for Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, a world leader in pediatric healthcare with over 800 attending physicians and more than 475 Pediatric subspecialists. The Nicklaus Children’s Health System includes 15 Nicklaus Children’s Outpatient Centers.
All of the auction proceeds will directly benefit the Foundation and its ongoing efforts to provide the best care to children in need around the world, as the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital has served children and families from all 50 states and 119 countries.
Phillips is thrilled to present this iconic Day‐Date — one of the most storied Rolex watches to appear on the market — on 10 December 2019 during a tightly curated and important thematic auction in New York. Prior to the auction, the watch will be presented on an international tour, which will include viewings in London, Geneva, Hong Kong, and throughout the United States. The tour will begin at the Jack Nicklaus Museum in Columbus, Ohio, on 29 May, followed by the Memorial Tournament Presented by Nationwide, hosted by Jack Nicklaus in Dublin, Ohio from 30 May - 2 June. The watch will then be exhibited at the US Open at Pebble Beach from 13-16 June.