In 1961, after being signed with RCA Records for just six years, a young singer named Elvis Presley reached a major career milestone: becoming the first artist in history to sell 75 million copies of his records. To celebrate the occasion, RCA presented him with a white gold Omega watch fitted with a diamond bezel, the kind of gift normally reserved for a 75th wedding anniversary. And this spring, that watch will go on sale as one of the marquee lots in Phillips’ annual watch auction in Geneva.
It’s not uncommon for Phillips to offer historically important timepieces—after all, this is the same auction house that just last year sold an iconic Rolex Daytona that once belonged to Paul Newman for just shy of $18 million. Like that fabled timepiece, this one has a commemorative engraving on the back (it says, “To Elvis, 75 Million Records, RCA Victor, 12-25-60”) as well as some serious historical weight and rarity. It was worn by one of the most beloved musicians in recording history, and has the rare distinction of being a time-only Omega with a diamond bezel sold by Tiffany & Co., whose brand name is marked on the dial. (Co-branded dials on fine watches are rare now, but back in the day, Tiffany would affix its name to the watches it sold made by Rolex, Omega, and Patek Philippe.)
So how much will it fetch at auction? Phillips has on occasion listed its lots for conservative reserves, and that’s likely the case here: the Elvis Omega is expected to sell for between CHF 50,000 and CHF 100,000 (around $54,000-$108,000 at current exchange). But the aforementioned Paul Newman Daytona? Its initial estimate was $1 million, and by the time the final gavel was struck, it had raised $17.8 million. So if some insanely wealthy collector can’t help falling in love with this watch, all bets for a final price are off.
If you’re an interested buyer, you should know that The Geneva Watch Auction: SEVEN, where this watch will be sold, takes place on May 12-13, 2018. A closer look at the watch below.