Eric Clapton’s watch collection has produced some stellar results at auctions in the past. Pieces such as the Rolex Daytona “Albino” which was first in the hands of Christie’s in 2003 (sold for $50,190), then Sotheby’s in 2012 (sold for $505,000) and most recently with Phillips in 2015 (sold for $1,400,000). There was also the Patek Philippe 2499/100 which sold with Christie’s in 2012 for $3,600,000. Regardless of which auction house ultimately handled the watch, the common denominator was always some sort of record setting price. But note now how — let’s say in the instance of the “Albino” — only when it first sold with Christie’s was it directly consigned by Eric. The rest of the times it was from the hands of other collectors who wanted the watch auctioned and the house that took on the house listed it in their catalogues as “the former property” of Eric Clapton.
What are we, then, to make of the latest “Clapton” Daytona to hit the block at Bonhams Watch Sale on 21 June? An 18ct 116528 from 2014, this is a commercial piece easily available with secondhand dealers for around £15,000. An additional rubber strap fitted to the present watch along with the unworn gold bracelet and original box and papers are offered as part of the lot, along with the all-important Clapton provenance.
Despite media reports, it is important to establish that much like the case of the “Albino” this, too, isn’t Eric himself who has consigned the watch. In fact, it was bought first by a collector sometime in 2016 and then came up for auction very recently on the 1st of April 2017 with Suffolk auctioneers Bishop & Miller. On that occasion, against an estimate of £30,000-50,000 it achieved £28,000 (£34,000 with premium), a fair increase against an anonymous example.
Bonhams have dialled down the estimate to £25,000-30,000 (lot 88), a sensible move reflecting the previous hammer price but unless communicated accurately we could end up having to face the unthinkable: A loss on an Eric Clapton Rolex.
Previous Clapton watches have been rarities in their own right and have achieved high prices whoever owned them in the interim. Eric’s ownership (at some point) only served to enhance the desirability and marketability. It will be a true test of the star’s brand power to see how far he can uplift a more commonplace watch.