If there are two qualities that can make the value of a watch skyrocket, they would be provenance and rarity. Watches that have been owned by prominent figures are sought after by collectors for obvious reasons, even more so if there are only a few of those watches known to exist.
Some of these watches are still at large – that is, they have been documented and photographed, but no one knows where they are today. Here are five of the most sought after missing watches of all time:
Buzz Aldrin’s Omega Speedmaster
You probably already know the story of the Omega Speedmaster and how it became the first watch on the moon. Aboard Apollo 11, the first-ever lunar mission, astronauts were given the Omega Speedmaster ref 105.012 to monitor time. Neil Armstrong left his watch in the spacecraft, while Buzz Aldrin wore his Speedy on the lunar surface – and the rest, as they say, is history.
When they returned from the mission, Buzz sent his Speedy to the Smithsonian for archiving; but it was lost or stolen en route. Photo from NASA Astronauts on Instagram
President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Rolex President Day-Date
Many US Presidents have worn the Rolex Day-Date, but it was Johnson who really cemented the connection between the Day-Date, and the Oval Office. Of course, “President” really refers to the three-link, hidden clasp bracelet of the Day-Date, but being seen with the sitting US President also helped establish the nickname.
Johnson wore his watch everyday and even gifted it as a sign of thanks to colleagues; but the whereabouts of his personal Rolex Day-Date is unknown.
“LBJColor” by Office of the President, Public Domain
John Lennon’s Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar
In one of the last photographs of John Lennon before his death, he’s seen showing off a yellow gold Patek Philippe watch. It’s not certain if he owned the timepiece, but many reports say it was a present given to him by wife Yoko Ono for his 40th birthday.
The said watch is a Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar 2499 which, on it’s own, is a rare and highly valuable timepiece. That this particular watch was owned by a Beatle makes it stuff of legends. Photos from Christie’s and John Lennon on Instagram
Pablo Picasso’s Rolex, Jaeger LeCoultre and Patek Philippe
Picasso is known for his love of watches, and he wore three of them prominently is several of his famed portraits: a Rolex GMT-Master, a Jaeger LeCoultre triple calendar, and a Patek Philippe reference 2497.
The photographs of Picasso wearing these watches are also very valuable and sell for thousands, but the watches in them have been missing since his death in 1978. Photos from Phillips
“1973 Dokfilm Picasso de Lucien Clergue Condor Films” by Condor Films, licensed by CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Alberto Santos-Dumont’s Cartier Santos
The Cartier Santos is one of the first wristwatches ever made. Louis Cartier designed the watch for Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont, who requested for a watch that he can read clearly, even while navigating an aircraft.
The Cartier Santos-Dumont was first retailed in 1911, seven years after the prototype was made for the famous aviator. It’s unknown where the original timepiece is, but it’s likely to be in São Paulo, where Alberto Santos-Dumont died in 1932.
First_flights_in_aviation_history.ogv, Public Domain