The King 40 Years On: Still Good Rockin’ Tonight

Fun in Acapulco
American singer and actor Elvis Presley (1935 -1977) holds the hand of Swiss born actor Ursula Andress in a still from the film, 'Fun in Acapulco,' directed by Richard Thorpe, 1963. (Photo by Paramount Studios/Courtesy of Getty Images)

When Sam Phillips set up his small Memphis record label on 3 January 1950, I doubt that in his wildest dreams he ever thought that he would go on to discover one of the finest performers of all time. It was said that Phillips once suggested that Elvis Presley was “the greatest man to walk the earth since Jesus.” It was Phillips who would go on to teach Elvis how to deliver what he had to offer, but in a strange turn of events would go on to sell his contract in November 1955 after having had some local success in the South — not one of the better business decisions Phillips would make.

Although I wasn’t around during his reign, even today, August 16, 40 years on from Elvis’s death, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll is heading back to the top album slot in world charts. As it currently stands, It’s Elvis versus Ed Sheeran for the UK number 1 spot!

Elvis Presley

A few things you need to know about Elvis:

  1. He came in fourth last year in the Forbes List of Top-Earning Dead Celebrities, with $27 million. He has sold more than a billion records (on all formats) worldwide, according to his record company.
  2. He died aged only 42 at his home, Graceland, in Memphis Tennessee in 1977.
  3. Elvis’ famous black hair was dyed — his natural colour was blonde, turning medium brown as he grew older.
Elvis Presley
  1. Elvis was 6 feet tall and wore a size 11 shoe.
  2. He was a watch guy.
Elvis Presley
Between shows, American musician (and actor) Elvis Presley (1935 - 1977) reads letters from fans as he relaxs in his suite at the Warwick Hotel, New York, New York, March 17, 1957. He stayed at the hotel when he appeared on the Dorsey Brothers' 'Stage Show' program on CBS-TV. (Photo by Alfred Wertheimer/Getty Images)
Elvis Presley
Portrait of (from left) American singers Mahalia Jackson (1911 - 1972), Elvis Presley (1935 - 1977), and Barbara McNair (1934 - 2007) as they pose together, 1969. (Photo by The Abbott Sengstacke Family Papers/Robert Abbott Sengstacke/Getty Images)

You can tell looking at the images below that he not only loved watches, but he was knowledgeable and had fun with it. Elvis was a global superstar who could have afforded pretty much any watch he wanted, but often sported modestly-priced watches from brands including Hamilton and Elgin.

Elvis had several watches in his collection, notably a rare Omega Constellation (pink gold with a black “sniper” dial), developed by the Omega management of the day, René Bannwart and Adolphe Vallat. It was a delicate dress watch with cross hair dial, from the era of Omega domination.

Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley
Presley wearing a a rare Omega Constellation (Image: Bettmann via Getty Iimages)

Elvis also owned a King Midas Rolex (reference 9630), which interestingly enough, was the most expensive Rolex on the market at the time, retailing for a whopping $2,500 in 18-karat gold. Why a Midas? It came from Greek mythology, and was obviously fit for a king (forgive me).

King Midas Rolex
King Midas Rolex owned by Presley
King Midas Rolex
King Midas Rolex Reference 9630 (Image: Antiquorum)

Finally, Elvis was given a Hamilton Ventura — the world’s first battery-powered watch. He wore it regularly, and the timepiece became iconic when it showed up in his 1961 film Blue Hawaii. It’s now known as “the Elvis watch”.

Elvis Presley
Presley wearing Hamilton Ventura
Hamilton Ventura
Hamilton Ventura—the world’s first battery-powered watch

On this, the anniversary of his passing, we say: Long Live the King!