Marlon brando
Marlon Brando wearing the Rolex GMT Master around the time of Apocalypse Now's filming.

Marlon Brando’s $2m Apocalypse Now Rolex reappears at auction

In 2019, a Rolex GMT Master worn by Marlon Brando when he played the shell-shocked Colonel Kurtz in the 1979 Vietnam War classic Apocalypse Now was sold by Phillips in New York for $1,952,000. Now the watch is back on the block with Christie’s in Geneva.

In 2019, a Rolex GMT Master worn by Marlon Brando when he played the shell-shocked Colonel Kurtz in the 1979 Vietnam War classic Apocalypse Now was sold by Phillips in New York for $1,952,000.

That same watch has reappeared and will be sold again at a single owner sale at Christie’s in Geneva.

Mohammed zaman
Mohammed Zaman.

Now we know the owner of the watch for the past four years has been Mohammed Zaman, a Dubai-based entrepreneur how has been pursuing the world’s rarest watches since acquiring his first Rolex back in 1978.

The Rolex GMT once owned by Marlon Brando was through to have been lost before it appeared at the New York auction, but Phillips pieced together its history ahead of that sale.

Mr Brando, a well-known Rolex devotee, had given the watch to his adopted daughter Petra Brando Fischer in 1995, telling her at the time: “This watch is like a tank. You can do anything you want to it and it will keep on going. I want you to have it as a reminder of how proud I am of you.”

In 2003, she gave the watch to her husband Russel Fischer, as a wedding present. He has kept it for 16 years without fully realizing its value to the wider movie memorabilia and watch collector world.

The watch is a stainless steel GMT-Master, reference 1675, manufactured in 1972.

The story goes that somebody in the Apocalypse Now production team told the actor that a Rolex would be too flashy for Colonel Kurtz.

Mr Brando insisted the watch would be worn, but he removed its bezel to make it less recognizable.

Its unpolished case is inscribed “M. Brando” by the actor himself.

Christie’s has given the watch a pre-sale estimate of $1,000,000 to $2,000,000, which will be an interesting test of whether demand for watches with this sort of unique history have risen or fallen in value since 2019.

It goes to auction at a Christie’s Geneva sale on November 6 titled “Passion for Time”, An Important Private Collection of Watches and Timepieces.

Key lots in the Passion for Time sale

(Descriptions and estimates by Christie’s)

George daniels anniversary no

George Daniels

The George Daniels Anniversary No. 00 is crafted by one of the greatest independent watchmakers and is a quintessential example of the finest tradition of handmade horology, the first of its kind and one of only four to have been made in platinum.

The George Daniels Anniversary series commemorates the 35th anniversary of Daniels’s invention of the co-axial escapement. Profoundly influenced by 18th/19th century master watchmaker Abraham‐Louis Breguet, Daniels presented his ground-breaking co-axial escapement in 1975, redefining 21st-century horology.

Following its launch in 2010, 47 George Daniels Anniversary watches were to be made: 35 in yellow gold; four in white gold; four in rose gold; and four examples in platinum, among which “No. 00”, the very first of the series, epitomises unparalleled legacy.

Est: CHF1,200,000-2,400,000

Philippe dufour grande petite sonnerie no

Philippe Dufour

Over two-and-half years in the making, Philippe Dufour’s Grande et Petite Sonnerie No. 1 marked a major milestone in the history of watchmaking.

Presented in Basel in 1992, it was the first time this spectacular minute repeater chiming complication had been incorporated into a wristwatch.

The 39mm case, with a thickness of just 14mm is amplified by the sober and elegant aesthetic of the white enamel dial with sub-seconds. One of the world’s finest and historically most significant complicated timepieces, it is also the first watch by Philippe Dufour as an independent watchmaker, catapulting him to the status of living legend.

This piece is also No. 1 of only four examples made – each unique in yellow, pink, white gold and platinum, all with white enamel dials.

Est: CHF4,000,000-6,000,000

Rolex marlon brando ref


This Rolex GMT-Master Ref. 1675 was worn by Marlon Brando when playing Colonel Walter E. Kurtz in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 classic “Apocalypse Now”.

Marlon Brando ‘customised’ this piece by hand-engraving his name on the caseback.

In addition, and even more notable, as Petra Brando Fischer recalls: “….he wore the watch on the set of Apocalypse Now in the Philippines, being asked  to take it off during filming as it would stand out too much.”

She said her father argued that ‘If they’re looking at my watch, then I’m not doing my job as an actor,’ and the powers that be on set eventually relented. Brando went a step further, by removing the bezel as well as the steel bracelet, which he replaced with a sober black strap, and pared down to essentials, allegorically mirrored the character of Kurtz.

Est: CHF1,000,000-2,000,000

Rolex the gordon bethune pink gold stelline ref


Introduced at the Basel fair in 1950, the Rolex 6062 introduced a complicated automatic movement, featuring both date and moon phases, fitted for the first time into the brand’s most vaunted design, the ‘screwback’ Oyster case.

Available in stainless steel, yellow gold or rose gold case, it also came with a variety of dial designs.

The variant offered as part of this Collection, in rose gold, features a dial with eight stars as intermediary hour markers, earning it the sobriquet title Stelline – “little stars” in Italian – among collectors.

It is perhaps the scarcest and most sought-after model of all, because only two Rolex models, references 6062 and 8171, showcase a triple calendar alongside a moon phase complication.

While the latter sports a snap-on caseback, the former is the screw-in (or ‘screwback’) type, ensuring its waterproofness. This piece, one of the most immaculate and best-preserved 6062s to come to the market, was also once owned by Gordon Bethune, a globally recognised watch collector and the legendary CEO of Continental Airlines.

Est: CHF1,000,000-2,000,000

Christie’s Geneva’s sale “Passion for Time”, An Important Private Collection of Watches and Timepieces, takes place on November 6.

The watches from the sale are on a world tour, touching down at Christie’s auction houses in Hong Kong from October 4 to 7, New York from October 14 to 18 and at Dubai Watch Week from October 14-19.

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