By Brecken Branstrator
Actor Marlon Brando wore this Rolex GMT-Master Ref. 1675 in Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” in 1979. The watch will go up for auction at Phillips New York in December.
New York—Another watch from the archive of films featuring Academy Award winner Marlon Brando will be up for auction this winter.

On Dec. 10 the Rolex GMT-Master Ref. 1675 worn by the actor in Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” will be part of the Phillips New York “Game Changers” sale. The thematic auction is dedicated to watches once owned by people considered game changers in their field.

Released in August 1979, “Apocalypse Now” is seen as one of Coppola’s greatest accomplishments as well as one of Brando’s most iconic performances.

In it, he played the role of Colonel Walter E. Kurtz, a former Green Beret who goes rogue running his own military unit in Cambodia during the Vietnam War.

Brando said he wore the watch, manufactured in 1972, to the set in the Philippines and was told he had to remove it during film because it would stand out.

Brando argued: “If they’re looking at my watch, then I’m not doing my job as an actor.”

He said the filmmakers let him wear the watch, but he decided to remove the bezel, resulting in its unique look.

It also features an engraving on the caseback, “M. Brando,” hand-engraved by Brando himself (pictured below).

20190715 Brando Rolex inset

In 1995, Brando gave the watch to his daughter, Petra Brando Fischer, as she was getting ready to head to law school at the University of Southern California.  

He reportedly handed her a hand-written letter in which he told her he was proud of her accomplishments, then gave her the Rolex GMT-Master and said, “This watch is like a tank. You can do anything you want to it and it will keep on going. I want you to have it as a reminder of how proud I am of you.”

Brando Fischer gifted the watch to her husband, Russel Fischer, on their wedding day in 2003.

The Rolex GMT-Master ref. 1675 is being offered as she received it—without a bezel and fitted on a rubber strap.

The watch was thought to be lost. Its sale in December marks its first time being shown publicly and offered for sale since Brando acquired it in the early 1970s. 

A company spokesperson said a pre-sale estimate for the watch has yet to be decided; it will be listed in the catalog as “estimate upon request.”
20190715 Brando wearing RolexMarlon Brando on the set of “Apocalypse Now” (Photo credit: Mary Ellen Mark)

Phillips said Brando Fischer and her husband would like the public to remember Brando’s contribution to film and his legacy through the sale of the watch.

“Russel and I believe this watch is a piece of movie history that belongs in the hands of a collector who will give it the prominence it deserves,” she said.

A portion of the sale proceeds will assist a charitable foundation the two established, which provides financial support to children who are living with serious hardship due to abuse, neglect, poverty, or disability.

Kruse GWS Auctions set a world record in May when it sold another of Brando’s Rolex watches for nearly $50,000.

Phillips’ “Game Changers” sale Dec. 10 will include collectors’ models from leading watch brands that have “changed the course of watchmaking and watch collecting,” alongside other timepieces notable for their provenance, condition or rarity, like the Jack Nicklaus Rolex Day‐Date announced earlier this year.

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