Rolex Connected to Steven McQueen Goes Up for Auction

AuctionsJun 18, 2018

Rolex Connected to Steven McQueen Goes Up for Auction

Phillips said the Submariner Ref. 5513 was a gift to his longtime stuntman and is expected to sell for between $300,000 and $600,000.

The Rolex Submariner Ref. 5513 actor Steve McQueen reportedly gave to his longtime stuntman, Loren Janes, in the mid-to late ‘70s will go up for auction in October.

New York--Continuing the trend of notable Rolexes going up on the block, one watch auction scheduled for the fall will feature a Rolex connected to actor and “King of Cool,” Steve McQueen.

The Rolex Submariner Ref. 5513 is the highlight of Phillips’ next New York Watch Auction, scheduled for Oct. 25, and is expected to sell for between $300,000 and $600,000.

The backstory on the timepiece, as provided by Phillips, is the following.

Owned and worn by McQueen before being given to stuntman Loren Janes as a gift, the wristwatch’s caseback is inscribed with, “To Loren, the best damn stuntman in the world. Steve.”

McQueen became one of Hollywood’s most sought-after and highest paid actors during his 26-year career. He also flew airplanes, and raced cars and motorcycles. As such, he needed a watch that could keep up and, Phillips said, found that in the Rolex Submariner.

Janes was brought in to test as his stunt double on the show that propelled McQueen into the public eye, “Wanted: Dead or Alive,” a TV Western McQueen starred in from 1958 until 1961.

McQueen would go on to request Janes as his double any time their schedules would allow, Phillips said, resulting in Janes being in the role for 19 of McQueen’s 27 major motion pictures and the two becoming lifelong friends.

The actor died on Nov. 7, 1980, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, after undergoing surgery to remove several tumors.

The Rolex Submarine Ref. 5513 Steve McQueen reportedly gave to his stuntman, Loren Janes, likely in the mid-to-late 1970s

Janes performed as a stunt double and served as a stunt coordinator in many other notable films and TV series until he retired in 2002. He died last year due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease.

McQueen was known to give watches to friends and colleagues as gifts, just like the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll did.

Phillips said this particular watch is the earliest McQueen-owned Submariner known, dating to 1964, and is the only known Steve McQueen watch to include his name engraved on the caseback. It is believed that the watch was given to Janes in the mid- to late ‘70s.

Adding to the watch’s interest is the fact that, according to Phillips, it was recovered after the 2016 Sand Fire outside Los Angeles destroyed the Janes home and was restored by Rolex, which documented the process and preserved the watch’s caseback, which still
has some soot on it.

The watch’s caseback is inscribed with the words “To Loren, the best damn stuntman in the world. Steve”.

While Phillips has made headlines in recent months for record-setting auctions of watches with interesting backstories, like Paul Newman’s own Paul Newman, the story it shared when it announced the sale of Steve McQueen’s Rolex Submariner earlier this month has come under scrutiny.

As reported by watch websites including Hodinkee and Jake’s Rolex World, the Steve McQueen estate is disputing the provenance of the Rolex Submariner as put forth by Phillips, though it is unclear from its statement exactly what part of the story the estate takes issue with.

Phillips did not respond to immediate request for comment on the estate’s claims Monday morning.

The auction house said in its initial release that the wristwatch will be sold with a letter signed by Janes attesting to its provenance; a letter and photos from Rolex USA documenting its restoration; and a book titled “Steve McQueen: A Life in Pictures,” with photos of McQueen wearing the watch.

A portion of the proceeds from the watch auction will benefit The Boys Republic, an all-boys school for troubled adolescents in California that rehabilitated McQueen when he was young.
Brecken Branstratoris the senior editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments in the colored stone sector.

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