Eric Clapton is in a class all by himself. The hitmaker and guitarist has a sterling career spanning decades; and was the first to be inducted thrice to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Music isn’t his only passion – he’s also a respected and prolific watch collector with museum-quality taste. Alongside his Fender, we can admire excellent timepieces from modern classics to rare vintage and prototype models.
We’re putting the spotlight on Slowhand’s Rolex watch collection.
Rolex GMT-Master II Green Hand
Eric sports the most versatile modern GMT that Rolex has produced to date. The Rolex GMT-Master II ref 116710 comes with a stainless steel body and a black ceramic GMT bezel and matching dial. The last of the GMT-Masters to feature a single color bezel insert, this model was discontinued in 2018 but is still very much sought after. Photo “Eric Clapton in concert”, by Majvdl, licensed by CC BY-SA 3.0
We’ve spotted Slowhand on stage with his Rolex Milgauss 116400GV. The steel case, smooth bezel and time-only dial of the Milgauss is often overlooked, but is definitely not to be missed. Inside is a ferromagnetic shield that surrounds the movement, protecting it from magnetic fields of up to 1,000 gauss. This reference also stands out for its green crystal and orange thunderbolt hands and index markers. Photo “Eric Clapton 2″, by Majvdl, licensed by CC BY-SA 3.0
Rolex Submariner ‘Red’
When it comes to the Submariner, Eric prefers rare vintage classics. He wears the elusive Rolex Red Submariner ref 1680, called such because of the Submariner name scrawled in red across the dial. This feature was shortlived and exclusive to the 1680 line of Submariners, making the model sought after. Photo from Eric Clapton on Instagram
Rolex Daytona Paul Newman
Eric has fantastic taste in Rolex Daytona watches, a couple of which he has auctioned off as well. One of them was the modern Paul Newman Daytona, whose tricolor dial is an ode to the signature watch of the famed actor and racer. The solid 18k yellow gold case, tachymeter bezel and bracelet, gives it a stunning array of colors and premium details. Photo (left) from Phillips
Of course, the original Paul Newman Daytona won’t be missing from such a stellar collection. Still in Eric’s watch box is the reference 6239 with the famed Paul Newman exotic dial, whose contrasting colors and Art Deco numerals were popularized by the actor-racer. Eric also wears his on a black leather fat strap, just like Paul Newman himself did. Photos from Phillips
Rolex Yachtmaster Daytona
Eric also once owned an extremely rare prototype that was never offered to the public – a Rolex Yachtmaster Daytona. Rolex experimented with the nautical theme in the 60s and early 70s, but only brought the Yachtmaster to market decades later in the 1990s. There are only 3 known examples of this Rolex Yachtmaster prototype. Eric sold his in 2003 for the benefit of his Crossroads foundation. Photo from Rolex Passion Report on Instagram
Rolex Daytona Albino
Eric also broke auction records when he sold his Rolex “Albino” Daytona in 2003. This reference 6263 comes with a pure silver monochromatic dial and was the only known example of such a Daytona at the time. It sold for $505,000 at Sotheby’s New York; and is said to have ushered in the era of vintage Rolex Daytona collecting. Photos from Forbes Life on Twitter and Phillips
Rolex Submariner Explorer Dial
As impressive as his collection may be, Eric doesn’t hold on to all of his watches – he’s actually a prolific benefit auctioneer, whose guitars, cars, and watches have been auctioned off for charitable causes.
In 2003, he auctioned off his Rolex Submariner ref 5513 with a rare Explorer dial. The 3-6-9 Arabic numerals used for Explorer models seldom appeared in Submariners from the 1960s, placing this among Rolex’s rarest sport watches. Photo from Christie’s
Rolex Turnograph ref 6202
In 2021, Eric’s Rolex Turnograph ref 6202 was put up for sale as part of Christie’s “Important Pocket Watches and Wristwatches, Featuring Property from the Collection of Eric Clapton”. This was the first ever reference of the Rolex Turnograph, which was the forefather of Rolex’s tool watches with rotating bezels. Photo from Robert Frank on Twitter and Christie’s
Rolex Oyster Chronograph ref 6034
Way back in 2014, Eric auctioned off (through Berlin-based auction house Auctionata) a super rare ref 6034 Rolex Oyster Chronograph. This piece is from the 1950s, and is made of solid 18k rose gold. A pre-Daytona Rolex chronograph, it features a silvered dial with outer telemeter and tachymeter scales, and three engine-turned registers for constant seconds, 30 minutes and 12 hours registers. Photo from Auctionata on Twitter
Rolex Day-Date Platinum
Eric also has several of Rolex’s flagship watch – the Rolex Day-Date. Made exclusively in 18 karat gold or platinum, the Day-Date has earned a reputation as the choice timepiece of presidents, leaders, and diplomats. He likes to go on stage with his platinum Rolex Day-Date, whose glacier blue dial is reserved for the noble metal. Photo from Eric Clapton on Instagram
Rolex Day-Date Everose and Yellow Gold
Eric has also auctioned off two of his Rolex Day-Date watches – one in Everose gold and the other in yellow gold. What makes these watches stand out is that instead of the President bracelet that the Day-Date is usually paired with, these have Oyster bracelets which are considered more sporty. Photos (left) from Phillips