It might not quite have the cachet of the $17 million Paul Newman Daytona sold by Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo last year, but a previously unknown Rolex Submariner associated with the Hollywood legend’s contemporary Steve McQueen is likely to spark considerable interest from collectors.
The watch, which will be auctioned by Phillips online and at its New York sale room in October, was given by Mr McQueen to his personal stuntman, Loren Janes, as a gift and inscribed on the case back, “TO LOREN, THE BEST DAMN STUNTMAN IN THE WORLD. STEVE”.
Steve McQueen and Loren Janes first worked together in the television Western Wanted: Dead or Alive, from 1958 to 1961.
Other watches, including Rolex Submariners, have appeared in public with established links to Mr McQueen, the personalisation and back story of this model is rare. Phillips says it is the only known Steve McQueen watch to include his name engraved on the case back.
It was thought to have been lost during a wildfire outside Los Angeles in 2016 that destroyed the home of Mr Janes. A treasure trove of Hollywood memorabilia was engulfed, but the watch was recovered from the ashes after the family was told it might have survived and spent several days digging through ashes to find it.
Once the watch had been found, the family sent it to be examined and restored by Rolex U.S.A., which took particular care in documenting the restoration process and preserving the watch’s priceless case back. The soot wedged between the Rolex bracelet clasp and on the case back is still present.
The watch will be sold with a letter signed by Loren Janes attesting to its provenance; along with photos from Rolex U.S.A. documenting its restoration. It has been given an estimate of $300,000 to $600,000.
A portion of the proceeds from the auction of this watch will benefit The Boys Republic, The McQueen Family charity that rehabilitated McQueen when he was a youth. An additional portion of the proceeds will be gifted to the surviving family members of Loren Janes.
The auction takes place online and at Phillips Park Avenue sale room on October 25.