Rolex - Game Changers New York Tuesday, December 10, 2019 | Phillips
  • Video

    Marlon Brando's Rolex GMT-Master

    Game Changers, 10 December

  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: 1972
    Reference No: 1675; inside caseback stamped 1675, II.72
    Movement No: D603’691
    Case No: 3’245’836
    Model Name: GMT-Master
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1570, 26 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Rubber
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel
    Dimensions: 39mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, and movement signed.
    Accessories: Two signed provenance letters from Petra Brando Fischer and Caroline Barrett, and two additional, custom “M B” straps designed by Attila Aszodi

  • Catalogue Essay

    Phillips is proud to offer what is, without a doubt, the most important wristwatch formerly owned by Academy Award® winner, Marlon Brando. An exceptionally well-preserved example of a Rolex GMT-Master reference 1675, it is the watch worn by Brando in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. With its absolutely superb provenance, it is the watch seen by millions on the wrist of Colonel Walter E. Kurtz – the character played by Brando – and long thought to have been missing. In addition to its role on the silver screen, the present GMT-Master is made even more extraordinary by the engraving on the caseback, “M. Brando,” hand-engraved by Marlon Brando himself.

    Colonel Kurtz, a former Green Beret who, during the Vietnam War, went rogue running his own military unit in Cambodia. On Marlon Brando’s wrist, as seen in the film, was this exact Rolex GMT-Master, a reference 1675 manufactured in 1972, fitted on a black strap with its bezel missing. Brando told his daughter, Petra Brando Fischer, that he wore the watch to the set of Apocalypse Now in the Philippines, and was told that he had to remove it during filming, as it would stand out. Brando said that he argued, “If they’re looking at my watch, then I’m not doing my job as an actor.” He said that the filmmakers let him wear the watch, but he removed the bezel.

    Petra Brando Fischer first met Marlon Brando in 1976, when her mother, Caroline Barrett, became Brando’s long time assistant and later, romantic partner. Marlon Brando asked her shortly thereafter, to call him Dad, eventually legally adopting her. Marlon Brando would also become her Godfather, even though he was not Catholic.

    In 1995, 20 years after the filming of Apocalypse Now, Brando gifted the watch to Petra following her graduation from Brown University in 1994, before she attended law school at the University of Southern California. According to Petra, her father was often hard on his watches, but this particular watch held a special place in his heart and he treasured it, rather than wearing it continuously. Brando handed Petra a hand-written letter, poignantly addressed to “Petra (dream girl)”in which he wrote that he was proud of her accomplishments, then gave her this GMT-Master and said, “This watch is like a tank. You can do anything you want to it and it will keep on going. I want you to have it as a reminder of how proud I am of you.” In 2003, Petra gifted the watch to her husband, Russel, on their wedding night. He appreciated its significance and has cherished it ever since, having chosen to never wear it.

    The Rolex GMT-Master ref. 1675 is being offered as it was received by Petra, without a bezel and fitted on a rubber strap. The watch is exceptionally well preserved and has never been polished, retaining all bevels, curves, and sharp edges as delivered from the Rolex factory nearly five decades ago. The luminous hour markers and hands have aged beautifully to a gorgeous shade of golden beige, and the dial, hands, case, crystal, and crown are all original to the watch. The Mark IV dial, with the typical tiny oval at the base of the Rolex coronet, is quite striking without the bezel. Accompanied by two signed provenance letters from Caroline Barrett and Petra Brando Fischer, two hand-crafted, custom made straps by the Los-Angeles-based collector and strap maker, Attila Aszodi are also included.

    Through the sale of the watch, Petra and Russel would like the public to remember Marlon Brando’s great contribution to film and celebrate his legacy. A portion of the sale proceeds will assist The Brando Fischer Foundation, a charitable foundation established by Petra and Russel, which will provide financial support to children who are living through serious hardship due to abuse, neglect, poverty, or disability - causes which Petra believes would have been very important to her father.

    We are thrilled to offer it here with its impeccable provenance, incredible “M Brando” engraving made by Marlon Brando himself, and superb original condition. The Marlon Brando “Apocalypse Now” Rolex GMT-Master is one of the world’s most important wristwatches ever publicly offered, and is an ultimate trophy watch to crown a collection of the world’s best timepieces.

  • Artist Biography


    Swiss • 1905

    Founded in 1905 England by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis as Wilsdorf & Davis, it soon became known as the Rolex Watch Company in 1915, moving its headquarters to Geneva in 1919. Like no other company, the success of the wristwatch can be attributed to many of Rolex's innovations that made them one of the most respected and well-known of all luxury brands. These innovations include their famous "Oyster" case — the world's first water resistant and dustproof watch case, invented in 1926 — and their "Perpetual" — the first reliable self-winding movement for wristwatches launched in 1933. They would form the foundation for Rolex's Datejust and Day-Date, respectively introduced in 1945 and 1956, but also importantly for their sports watches, such as the Explorer, Submariner and GMT-Master launched in the mid-1950s.

    One of its most famous models is the Cosmograph Daytona. Launched in 1963, these chronographs are without any doubt amongst the most iconic and coveted of all collectible wristwatches. Other key collectible models include their most complicated vintage watches, including references 8171 and 6062 with triple calendar and moon phase, "Jean Claude Killy" triple date chronograph models and the Submariner, including early "big-crown" models and military-issued variants.

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Ref. 1675; inside caseback stamped 1675, II.72
An iconic, historically important, and remarkably well-preserved stainless steel dual-time wristwatch with date

39mm Diameter
Case, dial, and movement signed.

Estimate On Request

Sold for $1,952,000

Contact Specialist
Paul Boutros
Head of Watches, Americas & International Strategy Advisor
Senior Vice President
+1 212 940 1293

Game Changers

New York Auction 10 December 2019