Phillips Watches strike again. After bringing Paul Newman’s ‘Paul Newman’ and Elvis Presley’s, diamond Omega watch to public auction — both of which sold for record prices, US$17.8 million and US$1.8 million, respectively — the world’s leading auction house has now uncovered a Rolex 5513 Submariner that once belonged to the King of Cool, Steve McQueen.

The last time a Submariner belonging to McQueen came up for auction, it was back in 2009 with Antiquorum. That watch was a 5512, that McQueen gifted to his friend and fellow collector, Jimmy Brucker, in the spring of 1980. In the hands of Antiquorum, the watch sold for US$234,000.

McQueen's Rolex Submariner ref. 5512 that sold with Antiquorum for US$234,000 (Image: Antiquorum)
McQueen's Rolex Submariner ref. 5512 that sold with Antiquorum for US$234,000 (Image: Antiquorum)

Not long after, the Heuer Monaco that McQueen wore in the 1971 film, Le Mans sold for US$799,500 at an auction, in 2012. That was no Submariner — it was also not a watch that McQueen owned personally — but no less an important watch in the McQueen lore.

The Submariner, now with Phillips, is one that McQueen purchased, circa 1964, and later gifted it to his personal stuntman and friend, Loren Janes. The watch remained in Janes’ possession for the better part of his life, until that is, in July 2016, when the historic Sand Fire took his home.

McQueen's Rolex Submariner ref. 5513, set to go on sale at Phillips Watches 25 October 2018 New York sale (Image: phillipswatches.com)
McQueen's Rolex Submariner ref. 5513, set to go on sale at Phillips Watches 25 October 2018 New York sale (Image: phillipswatches.com)
McQueen's message to his friend and stunt driver, Loren Janes on the back of the Rolex Submariner ref. 5513 (Image: phillipswatches.com)
McQueen's message to his friend and stunt driver, Loren Janes on the back of the Rolex Submariner ref. 5513 (Image: phillipswatches.com)
McQueen on the set of 'Papillon,' wearing his Rolex Submariner ref. 5513 (Image: Ron Galella)
McQueen on the set of 'Papillon,' wearing his Rolex Submariner ref. 5513 (Image: Ron Galella)

The next part of the story, and how the watch is today with Phillips, is recorded in a detailed article published earlier by Forbes. Kinda reminds you of how the auction house announced Paul Newman’s ‘Paul Newman’ last year, on Wall Street Journal.

On closer examination, those in the know, will be able to quickly point out that the watch in question seems to have the dial of the 5512 (which was COSC certified) as opposed to a 5513 dial (which was not COSC certified).

Phillips’ Head of Watches, Americas and International Strategy Advisor, Paul Boutros, explained the dial situation to Revolution saying, “The watch is indeed a ref. 5513 from 1964, and we are offering it as found with the current dial installed. After it was found by the daughter of Loren Janes, it immediately went to Geary’s in LA, then to Rolex USA for service.

“We have photos from Rolex USA with this dial. The consignor has included a period correct ref. 5513 dial acquired by him at great expense, to bring the watch back to its original configuration, as it would have appeared on the wrist of McQueen in the mid-1960s.”

Paul went on further to say, “The watch was no doubt owned and worn by McQueen, as the letter from Loren Janes [that the watch is accompanied by] states clearly that McQueen gave him ‘his watch’.”

The letter from Rolex on the subject matter of the Submariner 5513 and its authenticity (Image: phillipswatches.com)
The letter from Rolex on the subject matter of the Submariner 5513 and its authenticity (Image: phillipswatches.com)
The letter from Loren Janes that accompanies the Submariner 5513 (Image: phillipswatches.com)
The letter from Loren Janes that accompanies the Submariner 5513 (Image: phillipswatches.com)

Set for sale at their second New York sale on October 25th, 2018, McQueen’s 5513 is made special, because of a message that he had engraved on the back of the watch to Janes. Making it, therefore, the only watch known to be engraved with the man’s name.

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