A gold Rolex that belonged to President Eisenhower will be auctioned in September 2014, with an estimated value of $1 million. Part of the Raleigh DeGeer Amyx collection, it will be auctioned by RR Auction in Boston.
The watch, an Oyster Perpetual Datejust on a Jubilee bracelet, was the 150,000th piece manufactured by Rolex, and the company presented it to Eisenhower in 1951. The 100,000th Rolex had been given to Churchill. Eisenhower wore his regularly, and it appeared in official portraits, and in photos such as that published on the cover of Life magazine in 1952.
It was a Rolex tradition to give every 50,000th watch to a prominent soldier. Number 50,000 went to Swiss general Henri Guisan; number 200,000 was given to US Korean War General Matthew Ridgway.
The estimated price of a million dollars is feasible. Auction prices for rare Patek Philippe watches remain stable and high, with a long-standing record set by the Patek Philippe “Henry Graves” super-complication pocket watch when it sold for $11 million in 1999, and many other million-plus results such as the $3.6 million for another Patek owned by Eric Clapton.
In May this year, a 1949 Rolex Oyster Perpetual was sold by Christie’s at $1,220,632, exceeding its pre-sale estimate ($570,000-$1.13 million). In 2011, a rare 1942 Rolex, one of just twelve pieces of a chronograph model made by the brand, was sold for $1.16 million, again by Christie’s.
The Eisenhower Rolex acquires its rarity from its connection to the general. On the back, it is engraved with the President’s initials DDE and the five stars of a general.
Eisenhower bequeathed the watch to army colleague Sgt. John Moaney, and later Moaney’s widow sold it to collector Raleigh DeGeer Amyx. The auction will include more presidential memorabilia, such as Eisenhower’s brown leather flight jacket, and Roosevelt’s top hat.