Rolex Oyster Chronograph is a watch that’s rare in its own right, but it made even more special by its provenance as having been owned by Andy Warhol. The extremely rare stainless steel and pink gold chronograph wristwatch with a steel-and-gold expanding riveted Oyster bracelet sold at auction for CHF. 471,000 – approximately £362,000.
This watch was part of Christie’s Rare Watches sale which took place in Geneva on May 13, with a conservative estimate of CHF. 200,000-300,000 (£151,000 – £226,000).
The watch features a Valjoux 23 calibre inside, an extremely desirable hand-wound chronograph movement with a column wheel. The original VZ 23 was first produced in 1938, with flyback, calendar, and other variants quickly following in production. The popular Valjoux 72 (used in Daytonas, Carreras, Navitimers, among other popular chronographs) is a three-register variant of the Valjoux 23.
This watch also went up for sale in 1988 with a leather strap; since then, the owner has found a matching bracelet, making the watch even more desirable.
The watch was part of a secret collection, hidden in dresser drawers in Warhol’s E. 66th Street home. The preface to the Sotheby’s auction catalogue, written by Warhol’s manager and sole executor of his estate, Fred Hughes, concluded that the timepieces were indicative of Warhol’s personality.
“All show that same fascination and obsession with design, colour, shape, and texture that enhanced Andy’s life, inspired him in his collecting, and were so essential to his own aesthetic,” Hughes wrote.