Heuer - The New York Watch Auction: SIX New York Saturday, June 11, 2022 | Phillips

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  • JAMES GARNER | BIOGRAPHY

     

    With a casual wit, the unlikely charm of an anti-hero, and the rugged and athletic good looks of an all-American football star combined with a cowboy of the Old West, James Garner captivated the small and big screens of 20th century America. His career spanning six decades, he is best known as the highflying poker player Bret Maverick in the Western television series Maverick (1957-1962), the ex-con-cum-private detective Jim Rockford in The Rockford Files (1974-1980), and his Academy Award-nominated performance in Murphy’s Romance (1985) alongside Sally Field. Later years would see him take up the mantle as an aged astronaut alongside his previous co-star Clint Eastwood in Space Cowboys (2000) and an older version of Ryan Gosling in Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook (2004). Born in Norman, Oklahoma in 1928, Garner overcame a hardscrabble childhood to join first the Merchant Marine during World War II (he got mercilessly seasick), the California National Guard, and then was drafted during the Korean War, where he was awarded two Purple Hearts. After returning from Korea, Garner began taking some theater roles, which he did not enjoy due to apparent stage fright, and later worked with Marlon Brando in 1957’s Sayonara. It was after this feature film debut that he landed the role of Maverick and played the role for three years, gaining enormous popularity among American audiences and launching his future career.

     

    Photo courtesy of Gigi Garner

     

    It was right before Maverick, in 1956, that he met his wife Lois Josephine Fleischman Clarke, and they remained married for almost 58 years – indeed, for the rest of Garner’s life. They only separated once, for three months, and that was only because Garner needed time alone to de-stress from the trials of acting. Garner and his wife had one daughter together, Gigi, and raised Lois’ daughter together from a previous marriage as well. Garner was an immensely private man, introverted and down-to-earth, who saw acting as merely a day job - a means to an end. He was active in the civil rights movement, and was in the audience during Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963. Garner’s notable co-stars include not only Marlon Brando and Clint Eastwood, but also Steve McQueen (in The Great Escape, 1963), Julie Andrews, Aubrey Hepburn, and Bruce Lee. It was his role as Pete Aron in the Academy Award®-winning film, Grand Prix, that turned his “day job” into a new-found passion for motorsport outside of work. He would state, “Making Grand Prix was the most fun I’ve ever had…,” in his autobiography, The Garner Files. A man of many talents, he would become the owner of the American International Racers, racing cars at Le Mans, Daytona, and Sebring from 1967 through 1969. Another quote from his autobiography reads, “I don’t have any theories about acting, and I don’t think about how to do it, except that an actor shouldn’t take himself too seriously, and shouldn’t try to make acting something it isn’t. Acting is just common sense. It isn’t hard if you put yourself aside and just do what the writer wrote.” He was most at home as an ambivalent hero, with a sly grin and a quick wit, and had modeled his acting style after the great Henry Fonda. Garner passed away in 2014 at  the age of 86, just a month shy of his 58th wedding anniversary.

     

    Photo courtesy of Gigi Garner

     

     

     

    Photo courtesy of Gigi Garner
    • Condition Report

    • Description

      View our Conditions of Sale.

    • Manufacturer: Heuer
      Year: Circa 1966
      Reference No: 3647N
      Case No: 75’754
      Model Name: Carrera “James Garner”
      Material: Stainless steel
      Calibre: Manual, Valjoux 92, 17 jewels
      Dimensions: 35mm Diameter
      Signed: Case, dial, and movement signed Heuer; dial additionally signed "James Garner"
      Accessories: Accompanied by a signed letter from Gigi Garner.

    • Catalogue Essay

      Heuer has long been associated with precision timekeeping with the founder Edouard Heuer patenting a chronograph in 1882 and receiving another for an oscillating pinion (1887) still in use today. Heuer chronographs have been used for timed events from the Olympics to the Grand Prix of Monaco, and today they are sought by collectors for their iconic designs and technical innovations. The Carrera, introduced in 1963, was a tribute to the Carrera Pan Americana automobile road rally in Mexico from 1950 to 1954, and considered the most dangerous and deadly car race at the time. Unlike the Heuer reference 2447 three register chronograph, the Carrera reference 3647 featured a sleek modern dial with two subsidiary dials, including a 45-minute register in place of the usual 30 minutes register - more in-line with timing a football match than a fuel-injected automobile competition. The two-register model became known as the Carrera 45 with an upgraded Valjoux 92 caliber using Heuer’s patented oscillating pinion - a movement used by other top Swiss brands during the 1960s.

      In the mid-1960s, several Carreras were modified upon request by retailers and sponsors affiliated with Heuer to have special emblems and names printed on the dial. Often, these were related to auto racing. Examples have been seen with the Indianapolis 500 “Wheels and Wings” logo, as well as the MG car company logo, sometimes accompanied with personalized names – see lot 136 of Phillips’ 2021 New York Watch Auction. As an Indianapolis 500 pace car driver, auto racing enthusiast, and producer and star of the movie Grand Prix it makes perfect sense that James Garner would be one of those entitled to receive a special Carrera. The printing of his name on the bottom portion of the dial is completely consistent with other examples seen.

      Billed as “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”, the Indianapolis 500 is the American prong of the “triple crown” of automobile racing, along with the Monaco Grand Prix and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Situated in a suburb of Indianapolis, Indiana, it is typically held on Memorial Day weekend in late May, and possesses a number of specific traditions and traits that make it a distinctive American cultural experience.

      Grand Prix, starring James Garner along with Yves Montand, Brain Bedford, Eva Marie Saint, Antonio Sabàto, and Toshiro Mifune was released in 1966 and produced in part by Garner’s own Cherokee Productions. It went on to win three Academy Awards: Best Sound Effects, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound. Before it went into production, the director John Frankenheimer was racing (pun intended) to put the film together before a similar production helmed by Steve McQueen and John Sturges was produced; that film would be called Le Mans and released in 1971. Similar to the later Le Mans, real-life drivers made appearances in Grand Prix, including Jack Brabham, Jim Clark, Jo Siffert, Bruce McLaren, and Jochen Rindt among others. Significantly, in-car cameras were used in some of the earliest experimentation with that form of videography. Garner was one of the few actors skilled enough as a driver to train with a professional racer, igniting an interest in racing that would last the rest of his life. He even insisted on doing a few of his own stunts, including one where a fuel leak begins a car fire. It is likely on set, or directly after, that Garner acquired his Heuer Carrera.

      After the production and release of Grand Prix, Garner’s interest in racing continued to grow. His daughter Gigi recounted that her father attended at least forty Indy 500s, and drove the pace car at the event on three separate occasions – usually with this Heuer Carrera on his wrist. According to Gigi, it was his “favorite everyday watch” and is seen often in pictures from the era and on episodes of The Rockford Files. Heuer enthusiasts had often noted the Carrera on Garner’s wrist but were unable to discern what was additionally written on the dial. IN 2017, some intrepid Heuer collectors contacted Gigi directly asking her what was on the dial, and she generously met with them to show them the watch. A post on the Heuer enthusiast website caliber11.com followed and was re-posted across the Internet, and voila, the secret held for almost half a century was out.

      For the first time ever, James Garner’s “James Garner Heuer Carrera” is offered to the public. Phillips is honored to work with Garner’s daughter, Gigi Garner, who has graciously entrusted us with the sale of her beloved father’s timepieces, including this historically and culturally important Carrera, one of the most important Heuers to come to market in recent times.

      PROPERTY OF THE FAMILY OF THE ORIGINAL OWNER

    • Artist Biography

      Heuer

      Swiss • 1860

      This iconic chronograph manufacturer has a long tradition of precision timekeeping. As early as 1882, founder Edouard Heuer held a patent for a chronograph watch; in 1887, he received a patent for an oscillating pinion, which is still in use today. These specialized timepieces have been at the heart of the firm's success, enabling the brand to be chosen as early timekeepers for the Olympics. In 1969, the company introduced their first automatic chronograph watch, the Monaco Heuer, which celebrated the Monaco Grand Prix. Other key chronograph models include the Autavia and the Carrera, all of which having become iconic models of the firm.

      View More Works

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Ref. 3647N
A unique, culturally significant, and historically important stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with black dial and personalized dial printing, formerly owned and worn by James Garner, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the James Garner Animal Rescue Fund

Circa 1966
35mm Diameter
Case, dial, and movement signed Heuer; dial additionally signed "James Garner"

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
$20,000 - 40,000 
CHF19,900-39,800
€19,200-38,400
HK$157,000-314,000
S$27,900-55,800

Place Advance Bid
Contact Specialist

Paul Boutros

Head of Watches, Americas

+1 (212) 940-1293

[email protected]

 

Isabella Proia

Head of Sale, New York

+1 (212) 940 1285

[email protected]

The New York Watch Auction: SIX

New York Auction 11-12 June 2022