While not quite the fortune in gold bullion as depicted in the 1969 movie The Italian Job which starred Sir Michael Caine, an 18K gold Rolex Oysterquartz Day-Date watch owned by Sir Michael took star billing at an auction this month selling for £125,250 including buyer’s premium.
The Bonhams, New Bond Street, auction was dedicated to items owned by Sir Michael Caine CBE and his wife, Lady Shakira Caine, titled ‘Sir Michael Caine – The Personal Collection’. The auction was held on 2 March 2022.
Commenting about the auction Sir Michael Caine said:
“It’s going to be quite a wrench to part with so many treasured parts of my life and career, but it’s the right time to be moving on. I hope these mementoes will give their new owners as much pleasure as they have given us.”Sir Michael Caine
While typically the focus for today’s watch collector is the mechanical watch rather than the quartz watch, the history of the electronic watch forms an important part of horology. Indeed, the very revival of mechanical watch making that we currently enjoy can be traced back to the ‘quartz crisis’ of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Interestingly some rare vintage quartz watches from this period have even become quite valuable. As an example, Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo sold at their Geneva Watch Auction in May 2021, a Patek Philippe, ref. 3597/2, ‘Beta 21’ quartz wristwatch for CHF 81,900, (approx. £66,340), including buyer’s premium. The watch from 1974 was spared no expense when it was created by Patek Philippe with an 18K white gold case and integrated 18K white gold ‘drilled’ bracelet. Like Sir Michael’s Rolex, some of these Swiss quartz watches were not the ‘mass market’ pieces often associated with quartz but rather luxury watches.
Of course, when it comes to watch collecting the other key elements that come into play are the makers name, provenance, and originality. The Caine watch offered by Bonhams had all these elements covered. A vintage Rolex watch, owned by a famed and highly respected movie star, with photos of Sir Michael Caine wearing the actual watch, and to top it off the watch was directly consigned by Sir Michael himself. Importantly the watch will have also attracted a cross section of bidders from the watch collecting community, collectors of celebrity items, and fans of Sir Michael Caine.
Over an extensive career Sir Michael Caine starred in films such as Get Carter, Zulu, The Italian Job, Educating Rita, with Oscar-winning performances in Hannah and Her Sisters and The Cider House Rules, through to his more recent role as Batman’s butler, Alfred in The Dark Knight movie series.
The Rolex was Lot 111, in the auction and listed as Sir Michael Caine’s Rolex. An 18K gold Oysterquartz Day-Date, Ref: 19018/19000 form circa 1979.
Estimated at £8,000 to £12,000, the watch sold at an impressive £125,250 including buyer’s premium. This must make the watch one of the most expensive Rolex Oysterquartz Day-Date’s ever sold.
The watch is powered by an 11-jewel Cal.5055 quartz movement, (Rolex had at the time developed its own in-house quartz movements. Rolex also used its in-house quartz movements in watches such as the Datejust Oysterquartz Ref. 17000 and 17013). The dial is sunburst champagne with applied gilt baton hour markers with the cyclops magnified date aperture at 3 and day listed at 12. The 18K gold case is brushed and polished with a fluted bezel. The bracelet is also in 18K gold with brushed and polished links. The watch size is 36mm.
White suits, champagne, and a gold Rolex
Sir Michael confirmed to Bonhams that he wore the Rolex Oysterquartz during film roles, most notably as Lawrence Jamieson in the 1988 movie Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Sir Michael can be seen in the movie poster for the film wearing the Rolex, dressed in a sharp white suit as he toasts with co-starring actor Steve Martin.
Included in the auction was a signed limited edition print of this poster. One can only imagine that successful bidder for the Rolex Oysterquartz might have been a very tempted to bid for the poster to go with the watch.
The print was Lot 160, catalogued as a limited-edition colour photographic print of Steve Martin and Sir Michael Caine as Freddie Benson and Lawrence Jamieson in the production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Orion Pictures, 1988. The promotional photograph was taken by Terry O’Neill (1938-2019). The reverse of the print is signed by both Terry O’Neill and Sir Michael Caine. Print number 6/50.
The print sold for £5,100 including buyer’s premium.
An iconic quartz watch, from the 1980’s – the Breitling Aerospace
Very much an 80’s watch the aviation inspired quartz Breitling Aerospace has stood the test of time and is still available today in the Breitling model line-up as the Aerospace Evo. Originally introduced in 1985, Breitling packed a range of functions into the watch including analogue and LCD digital display, a chronograph, dual time display, calendar, countdown timer and alarm. The case is made of titanium.
Lot 112 was Sir Michael Caine’s own Breitling Aerospace from Circa 1990. Bonhams comment that Sir Michael Caine was an early fan of the Breitling Aerospace. The watch was seen for example in 1992 on set of the movie Blue Ice.
Estimated at £700 to £900 the watch flew away at £10,837 including buyer’s premium.
Classic Mini’s and one famous bright orange Lamborghini Miura
For car enthusiasts the film, The Italian Job, offers an array of cars but the showstopper must be the bright orange Lamborghini Miura and accompanying soundtrack at the start of the movie as the sports car winds its way across the switch back roads of the Swiss Alps. Dramatically in the film, (but not in reality), both car and driver meet an unfortunate end in a tunnel. Capturing some of the Minis used in the film this poster was also sold in the same Bonhams’ auction.
For more information please visit Bonhams
Copyright and Credits
© All photo images and quotes are courtesy and copyright of Bonhams
Note: if you are planning on buying a watch at auction from a location outside the UK always check first what the situation is with regard any duties and VAT liabilities should you import the watch into the UK. As with all auctions ask about fees and view condition reports in advance of the auction.