Marlon Brando’s Rolex GMT-Master to star at the Phillips auction

The watch featured in Apocalypse Now and hand-engraved by the actor himself – to be offered in the New York ‘Game Changers’ auction, taking place on 10 December 2019.
The Rolex GMT-Master ref. 1675 comes bezel-less, as seen in the movie
The auction held by Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo will be dedicated to the watches owned by extraordinary people who are considered ‘game changers’ in their fields. And we’re likely looking at one of the top lots right now. The wristwatch formerly owned by Academy Award winner Marlon Brando is an iconic Rolex GMT-Master ref. 1675 manufactured in 1972 fitted on a black strap with its bezel missing. It is seen by millions on the wrist of Colonel Walter E. Kurtz – played by the actor in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (this year marks its 40th anniversary) – and long thought to have been missing. Brando had to remove the bezel during filming, as it would stand out, in filmmakers’ opinion, and that’s how this unique timepiece closely associated with Colonel Kurtz was really born.
The inscription was hand-engraved by Brando himself
As if wasn’t enough, the watch features a peculiar mark on the caseback, saying ‘M. Brando’, hand-engraved by the actor himself. This GMT-Master remained in Brando’s possession until 1995, when he gifted it to his daughter, Petra Brando Fischer. In 2003, Petra gifted the watch to her husband, Russel Fischer, on their wedding night. The auction this December marks the watch’s first time ever being shown publicly and offered for sale since having been acquired by the legendary actor in the early 1970s. The Rolex GMT-Master ref. 1675 is being offered as it was received by Petra, without a bezel and fitted on a rubber strap. The watch is exceptionally well preserved, retaining all bevels, curves, and sharp edges as delivered from the Rolex nearly five decades ago. The luminous hour markers and hands have aged beautifully to a gorgeous shade of beige, and the dial, hands, case, crystal, and crown are all original to the watch.
Photo by Mary Ellen Mark, courtesy of Phillips
Through the sale of the watch at Phillips, Petra and Russel would like the public to remember Marlon Brando’s great contribution to film and celebrate his legacy. A portion of the sale proceeds will assist a charitable foundation established by Petra and Russel, which will provide financial support to children who are living through serious hardship due to abuse, neglect, poverty, or disability.