Few A-list celebrities have ever had the kind of enigma that Marlon Brando had. Despite his long and storied career, the actor was a private, if not mysterious man known for his thoughtful performances and methodical approach to his craft. Brando was also known for his innate sense of style, regardless of the fact that he dressed for comfort and was never personally into fashion or luxury — save for wristwatches, which became a sort of obsession for the star. He had his own personal collection, slept with a timepiece around his wrist, and occasionally wore two watches at a time to track different time zones. Up for auction through Christie’s is a special Rolex GMT-Master Ref. 1675, circa 1972, worn by Brando while filming Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 war picture Apocalypse Now.
Production initially resisted the actor keeping the Rolex on his wrist during actual filming, but he insisted that “If they’re looking at my watch, then I’m not doing my job as an actor.” They acquiesced and Brando ended up taking the bezel off beforehand. Although he was typically rough with his watches — wearing them everywhere — this Rolex was arguably his favorite and one he only wore on occasion. On the back, he engraved “M. Brando” himself with an electric engraver pen. In the ‘80s, he asked his assistant and friend Caroline Barrett to swap out the steel strap for a rubber one so it could be completely waterproof for his excursions on his catamaran.
The stories of Brando and his watch are recounted by Barrett and her daughter Petra, who became Brando’s goddaughter and adoptive daughter when she was young. When Petra was older, the actor gave her the timepiece as a token of his love and admiration of her.
This very special, screen-worn Rolex GMT-Master is expected to go for over $2 million when it goes under the hammer on November 6 from Christie’s. Head over to the auction house’s website to learn how to register to bid.