Celebrities and Their Vintage Rolex Watches

Synonymous with success and personal achievement, Rolex watches are frequently the timepieces of choice for many of the world’s most famous and influential individuals. While the majority of celebrity Rolex owners opt to adorn their wrists with the manufacturer’s latest offerings (or depend on a watch stylist to find them the right timepiece,) there are […] The post Celebrities and Their Vintage Rolex Watches appeared first on Bob's Watches.

Celebrities and Their Vintage Rolex Watches

Synonymous with success and personal achievement, Rolex watches are frequently the timepieces of choice for many of the world’s most famous and influential individuals. While the majority of celebrity Rolex owners opt to adorn their wrists with the manufacturer’s latest offerings (or depend on a watch stylist to find them the right timepiece,) there are others – usually those with a strong interest in timepieces – that choose to wear vintage Rolex watches.

From musicians like John Mayer and The Weeknd to TV personalities like Gordon Ramsay and Ellen DeGeneres, along with actors like Ryan Gosling, and even famous families like the Beckhams, you may be surprised at just how many celebrities have picked up the vintage Rolex bug. And it’s not just the famed vintage Daytona “Paul Newman” chronographs that these A-listers are after — there’s plenty of vintage Submariner, Day-Date, GMT-Master, Explorer, and Datejust references to admire too. If you’re curious to find out which celebrities wear vintage Rolex watches, here’s a round-up of some of our favorites.

Click here for a closer look at some of the most important vintage Rolex watches.

John Mayer

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John Mayer’s Vintage Rolex Watches:

As an avid watch collector, John Mayer owns a number of remarkable watches – both vintage and contemporary – from a wide variety of manufacturers. Amid the numerous vintage Rolex pieces in his collection, the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter owns a reference 5517 Military Submariner, several vintage Daytona chronographs (including a few Paul Newmans), and a reference 1680 Submariner that was issued to COMEX and has the dial to prove it.

John Mayer has been on two Talking Watches episodes on YouTube where we can see part of his expansive watch collection. Between these two videos, some standout vintage Daytona watches include a ref. 6265 with an Omani Khanjar dial, a ref. 6265 with a UAE dial, a steel ref. 6263, a yellow gold ref. 6263, a ref. 6264 “Paul Newman,” and a ref. 6264 with a pulsation dial. He also shows us some truly sublime vintage Submariner watches including a ref. 5514 made exclusively for COMEX and a ref. 6200 with an Explorer-style dial.

Among all the various celebrity collectors, John Mayer is no doubt the biggest champion of vintage Rolex watches with the most influence in the community.

Click here for a look at more celebrities that wear Rolex ‘Paul Newman’ Daytona watches.

Ellen DeGeneres

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Ellen DeGeneres’s Vintage Rolex Watches:

Although it is primarily male celebrities that are widely reported as wearing vintage Rolex watches, Ellen DeGeneres has a truly impressive collection of some of the rarest and most desirable vintage Rolex timepieces in existence.

In addition to a reference 1655 Explorer II and a “Blueberry” GMT-Master, DeGeneres also owns a Paul Newman Daytona ref. 6241 with a three-color dial, a 1970s yellow gold Daytona ref. 6265 with a black dial, and a yellow gold Rolex Daytona ref. 6241 “John Player Special” (among many others).

Click here for a closer look at Ellen DeGeneres’s Rolex watch collection.

Eric Clapton

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Eric Clapton’s Vintage Rolex Watches:

Another well-known watch collector and vintage Rolex aficionado, Eric Clapton has either owned or presently owns some of the rarest and most collectible Rolex watches ever manufactured. The legendary guitarist sold most of his incredible vintage pieces at several auctions a few years back. For example, in 2003, Christie’s auctioned 25 of his timepieces including the following vintage Rolex watches:

– Triple Calendar with Moonphase Reference 6062 – one in steel and one in yellow gold

– Triple Calendar Chronograph Reference 6236

– Submariner 5513 with an Explorer dial

– Steel prototype Yacht-Master Daytona, ref. 6239

It is believed that only three of these Yacht-Master prototypes were ever manufactured; one resides inside the Rolex safe in Geneva, and the other is part of John Goldberger’s collection. In 2008, Eric Clapton sold the incredible Daytona 6263 “Albino” chronograph for a record-breaking $505,000 – and to be clear, this watch would command a much higher price in today’s robust vintage Rolex market!

Gordon Ramsay

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Gordon Ramsay’s Vintage Rolex Watches:

Like many celebrity chefs, Gordon Ramsay appreciates a fine timepiece, and can frequently be seen wearing one while cooking in the kitchen or filming one of his many television shows. During his early days on TV, Gordon Ramsay was almost always seen wearing a yellow-dialed Breitling watch. He still owns and wears that watch; however, the Hell’s Kitchen star now alternates it with some very sought-after Rolex watches too—including some awesome vintage pieces.

Some of the vintage Rolex watches we’ve spotted Gordon Ramsay wearing include a Submariner 1680 in stainless steel, a yellow gold Submariner 1680/8 with a “Nipple” dial, and an Explorer II ref. 16550 with a once-white dial that has turned into a creamy shade of perfection. He also owns a vintage Submariner 5513, which is rumored to be manufactured the same year that he was born. If that is true, hats off to him for getting an epic Birth Year Rolex watch!

Adam Levine

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Adam Levine’s Vintage Rolex Watches:

Joining the list of celebrities who choose to wear and collect vintage Rolex timepieces is musician and television personality Adam Levine – and he has a superb range of both dress and sports pieces.

We’ve spotted the Maroon 5 frontman wearing several vintage Daytona watches, including a steel 6265 with a reverse panda dial, a steel 6241 Paul Newman, and a yellow gold 6241 Paul Newman. His collection also includes a vintage Submariner 6538 “Big Crown,” an Explorer II 1655 “Steve McQueen” and a yellow gold GMT-Master 1675 with a “Nipple” dial. Additionally, Adam Levine also appears to be a fan of vintage Rolex President watches, with at least two “Stella” dial variants including the yellow gold Day-Date ref. 1803 with a pink dial and a white gold Day-Date ref. 1803 with a turquoise dial.

Ryan Gosling

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Ryan Gosling’s Vintage Rolex Watches:

Though he’s one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, Ryan Gosling is pretty low-key when it comes to his style, opting for minimal classics rather than over-the-top trends. His watch choice reflects that understated vibe too, and many of Gosling’s favorites are some of the least-expensive vintage Rolex watches currently available.

Ryan Gosling wears a simple vintage Rolex Air-King ref. 5500 with a 34mm case that houses an off-white dial with 3, 6, and 9 numerals. Not only is this one of the most discreet vintage Rolex watches to own, but it is also one that is still relatively affordable in the collector’s market. Illustrating the versatility of a straightforward old-school Rolex, this Golden Globe winner’s Air-King looks just as great with a white dinner jacket on the red carpet as it does with a simple white tee and jeans outfit.

The Weeknd

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The Weeknd’s Vintage Rolex Watches

Let’s be honest, discontinued Cellini references are not the most popular vintage Rolex watches, by far. However, that’s precisely the unconventional watch that singer-songwriter superstar, The Weeknd (a.k.a Abel Tesfaye), has been spotted wearing, which fits right into his current retro aesthetic. He opts for the asymmetrical Cellini Midas with a five-sided yellow gold case, black dial, and black leather strap.

Another vintage Rolex we’ve seen him wearing is a yellow gold Datejust ref. 16018 with a black onyx dial, three-link President bracelet, and fluted bezel. One interesting thing to note is that both of these vintage Rolex models feature yellow gold cases with minimal dials, so that may be a good indicator of The Weeknd’s preference when it comes to Rolex watches.

Click here to see some of the other A-list celebrities that wear Rolex Datejust watches. 

The Beckham Family

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The Beckham Family’s Vintage Rolex Watches:

For the Beckhams, it seems that watch collecting is a family affair. Husband and wife David and Victoria, along with sons Brooklyn, Romeo, and Cruz, have all been seen wearing some fantastic timepieces, including a slew of vintage Rolex classics.

David Beckham’s love of high-end watches has been well documented; not only has he been photographed wearing plenty of top-notch timepieces but the former Manchester United midfielder traded his Breitling ambassadorship to sign with Tudor in 2017. His vintage Rolex collection is enviable with pieces such as a two-tone GMT-Master “Root Beer” with a brown Nipple dial, several older Submariner references (one in gold and a couple in steel), and an all-gold Datejust 36.

Victoria Beckham’s vintage Rolex picks are noteworthy too; she’s been seen wearing a solid 18k yellow gold vintage President with a classic champagne dial as well as a highly collectible 1970’s Day-Date with a turquoise/aqua green “Stella” dial.

Brooklyn takes after his famous dad’s watch style by wearing a vintage no-date Submariner on a wide leather ‘bund’ strap. Whether this is his Rolex or one of his dad’s is unclear; however, when your parents have a collection like Posh and Becks, it’s only natural to want to borrow a watch from them every now and then!

Click here for a closer look at how celebrities choose their Rolex watches.

It’s clear that some of these celebrities are serious about their vintage Rolex watches. It’s one thing to want to buy the latest and greatest Rolex model but picking a great vintage reference typically requires a little more effort and knowledge on the part of the buyer. Collecting vintage watches is a fascinating pastime, and many enthusiasts will admit that once you jump in with that first vintage acquisition, you’ll always be on the hunt for the next one!

The post Celebrities and Their Vintage Rolex Watches appeared first on Bob's Watches.

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Omega Space Watches Ultimate Guide

When you think about the watches astronauts have worn on actual space missions, the name that immediately springs to most people’s mind is always the Omega Speedmaster. However the first watch worn on the surface of the moon is only one of a number of different space watches that have experienced life beyond the earth’s atmosphere. The post Omega Space Watches Ultimate Guide appeared first on Bob's Watches.

Omega Space Watches Ultimate Guide

When you think about the watches astronauts have worn on actual space missions, the name that immediately springs to most people’s mind is always the Omega Speedmaster. Among all the increasingly valuable vintage Omega Speedmaster watches, the true “holy grails” are the ones that have actually been worn on the surface of the Moon – or at least in space. Omega Speedmaster chronographs were the watches that NASA issued to Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins during their Apollo 11 mission. Naturally, after that successful spaceflight, the Omega Speedmaster became known as the Moonwatch.

However, the first watch worn on the surface of the moon is only one of several different watches that have experienced life beyond the earth’s atmosphere. Omega’s history of space watches began before the historic 1969 lunar landing – and it continued well after. From the Speedmaster FOiS to the classic Moonwatch, join us as we take a closer look at the intriguing world of early Omega space watches.

Click here for our Ultimate Buying Guide on the Omega Speedmaster.

The First Omega Watch in Space

The First Omega Space Watch

NASA began flight qualifying Omega Speedmaster watches for all manned space missions and Extravehicular Activity (EVA) in 1965. However, on October 3, 1962, astronaut Walter “Wally” Schirra wore his personal Omega Speedmaster reference 2998 into space aboard the Mercury-Atlas 8 mission. Therefore, Wally Schirra’s ref. CK2988 was the very first Omega space watch – before NASA even officially granted the Speedmaster space-ready status!

The Reference CK2998 was the second generation Speedmaster and the first to feature the now signature-black tachymeter bezel. The previous reference had a steel bezel engraved with a tachymeter scale. The Speedmaster CK2998 was in production from 1959 until 1963; it was eventually replaced by the reference 105.002 and reference 105.003.

In 2012, Omega introduced the Speedmaster “First Omega In Space” re-edition, based on the original design of Reference CK2988 but with plenty of modern touches. While the re-edition is officially called the Speedmaster ref. 311.32.40.30.01.001, it’s affectionately known as the FOiS  (which stands for “First Omega in Space”). Omega announced the end of the FOIS production in December 2020. It’s estimated that around 15,000 examples of the Speedmaster FOiS 311.32.40.30.01.001 were made and each piece is engraved with a unique number on the case-back.

Omega Space Watches Speedmaster Moonwatch

The Spacewalking Omega Speedmaster

On June 3, 1965, astronaut Ed White became the first American to walk in space when he opened the hatch door of the Gemini IV capsule and took a stroll. To be fair, it was more of a “swim” as he floated for around 20 minutes, attached to the capsule by a 23ft tether and 25ft umbilical. And strapped around his spacesuit during the Extravehicular Activity was the Omega Speedmaster chronograph. In fact, Ed White wore two Speedmasters during his historic spacewalk, one set to mission time of Gemini IV and the other set to Houston time. Unlike Wally Schirra’s personal Speedy, Ed White’s Speedmaster ref. 105.003 watches were issued by NASA.

The reference 105.003 was the watch that was tested and qualified by NASA for all manned space missions in 1965. By the time of the first U.S. manned space missions, the Speedy was into its third generation and had grown from the original 39mm case to 42mm, along with benefiting from the addition of O-ring gaskets around the pushers to protect against water ingress.

Crucially, it was also driven by the Caliber 321, a joint venture between Omega and Lemania and used by other illustrious names in the industry such as Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin. Recognized as one of the best chronograph movements ever made, it had particular resilience to magnetic fields and shock, which would prove to be vital attributes for its later role.

Omega Space Watches Speedmaster

Flight Qualified By NASA For All Manned Space Missions

With NASA gearing up for the Gemini and Apollo missions, both of which would require crews to perform spacewalks, they began searching for watches that could handle the extreme conditions. Beginning that same year, they gathered chronographs as options for space watches from several manufacturers, including Rolex, Longines, and Breitling, and subjected them to the ominous-sounding Qualification Test Procedures.

The three models out of six that survived went on to be put through a further 11 trials, commonly thought of as the most arduous assessments any watch has been put through before or since. Examined for reliability in the face of massively high and low temperatures, resistance to pressure, humidity, acceleration, decompression, and vibration – essentially everything that the astronauts themselves would face – only the Omega Speedmaster passed the battery of tests.

Ed White tragically died in 1967, along with astronauts Virgil “Gus” Grissom and Roger B. Chaffee, in a fire during pre-launch testing for Apollo 1. According to a letter penned by Ed White’s son published on Fratello Watches, one of Ed White’s Speedmasters survived the fire and NASA presented it to the astronaut’s widow. This watch was later sold by Ed White’s son to a collector in Japan.

In 2020, Omega introduced the Speedmaster Caliber 321 “Ed White” ref. 311.30.40.30.01.001 tribute watch, complete with vintage design details such as a dot-over-90 bezel, a step dial, no crown guards, and of course, the legendary Caliber 321 manual-winding movement.

Vintage Omega Space Watches Speedmaster Moonwatch

The Speedmaster Lands on the Moon And Goes Missing

The Speedmaster’s greatest moment (so far at least) came on the 20th of July in 1969, when Buzz Aldrin stepped out onto the lunar surface with his Omega on his arm. Neil Armstrong had left his watch in the lunar module as a backup for the malfunctioning electronic timing system, so the second man on the moon actually wore the first watch.

Aldrin’s piece, possibly the most important horology artifact of them all, was sadly stolen a few months later and never recovered. So, the most famous Moon watch of them all is missing, which raises the possibility that it could turn up for sale someday. It would no doubt give the record set by Paul Newman’s personal $17.8 million Rolex Daytona a run for its money.

So, how did Buzz Aldrin’s Speedmaster go missing? In 1971, Aldrin was instructed to send the watch to the Smithsonian after NASA inked a deal with the institution to display key items from its missions. Aldrin signed a chit saying it had indeed been sent there; however the watch never arrived. The Smithsonian does have Neil Armstrong’s Speedy, which he famously left in the lunar capsule while taking his moonwalk, as well as the one worn by Michael Collins, who stayed in orbit during Apollo 11.

The museum is also in possession of Gordon Cooper’s Gemini 5 Omega Speedmaster, the only one in the collection on a metal bracelet. However, those are just three of the more than 50 watches that NASA donated to the Smithsonian in the 1970s, all of them now worth a truly astronomical sum. What is most interesting is that seven of these watches have been stolen while on loan to other museums. Given that any NASA-issued Speedmaster is a true grail piece, we’d wager that at least some of those are probably in the hands of some rather unscrupulous collectors.

Vintage Omega Space Watches Speedmaster Caliber 321 Movement

Who Actually Owns the NASA Moon and Space Watches?

Could any of the watches still be in the hands of the astronauts? It’s possible. And if so, they might even be able to keep them – or sell them. Conventional wisdom says that the true lunar-worn watches will never end up in private hands: since NASA issued the watches, they remain government property. However, it’s no longer quite that simple.

Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell tried to sell a camera he kept from the mission at a Bonhams auction in 2011. The U.S. government filed legal action and Mitchell was forced to return it to NASA since the government had no record that they’d transferred ownership of it to him.

However in 2012, Barack Obama signed a new bill into law guaranteeing the “full ownership rights” of most anything the crew members of the Apollo, Mercury, and Gemini missions still had in their possession (with the exception of moon rocks and spacesuits.) Given that Omega Speedmaster prices are on the rise and higher than ever, this issue still generates plenty of controversy.

Omega Space Watches Speedmaster Moonwatch

The Iconic Omega Space Watch

Since becoming the first watch worn on the Moon, the Omega Speedmaster has gone on to serve faultlessly through innumerable space missions. Within the greater Speedmaster collection, Omega has released a bewildering number of different guises as well as limited edition examples.

The Speedmaster has continued to be developed and tested exhaustively, and a version is being reportedly designed to accompany the first manned mission to Mars, which is scheduled for 2030. The checks for that trip are likely to be even more demanding than for the moon, so it will certainly be interesting to see what type of Speedmaster that Omega puts forward.

While the Speedmaster has been released with automatic and even quartz movements, for the true purist, only a manually-winding model hits the right note. Plenty of different watches have traveled into space and there are even a handful that have made it to the lunar surface, but for the diehard Omega collector, the Speedmaster will always be the one and only Moonwatch.

Omega Space Watches Speedmaster Hesalite Crystal

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