Originally published by Mike Espindle on Hodinkee.
The marquee items ofPaul Newman’s Rolex “Big Red” Daytona and the Heuer Monaco chronograph worn by Steve McQueen in the film Le Mans are more than worthy of stealing a lot of thunder at the Phillips “Racing Pulse” auction in New York on December 12. But, there is even more star-power in store for auction participants that should not be overlooked.
Phillips recently announced that the auction will include Panerai and Richard Mille watches from the collection of famed jumbo watch aficionado Sylvester Stallone as well as watches donated for the auction’s charity initiative by Cirque du Soleil co-founder Guy Laliberté.
Screen legend, tough guy … watch collector? As one of cinema’s most recognizable faces, Sylvester Stallone’s career has included Oscar nominations not only for acting, but also for screenwriting (he wrote the screenplay for Rocky and was nominated in 1976, making him one of only three actors ever nominated for Academy Awards in both acting and screenwriting). What many don’t know is that before the American actor hit the big time, Stallone attended (and also worked as a gym teacher for) American College in Lysin, Switzerland. He credits that change of scenery in his youth with sparking his interest in acting and screenwriting, but did living in Switzerland also mold his interest in watch collecting?
As not only a performing artist, but a fine artist as well, Stallone’s passion for design certainly runs deep. His early fandom of Panerai and his relationship with the watchmaker dating back to 1994 almost single-handedly helped burnish the brand’s current global and celebrity appeal (the actor famously presented buddy Arnold Schwarzenegger with a bespoke gold Luminor in 1996). The Panerai Luminor he wore in the 1996 disaster film Daylight is among the auction lots. Stallone is also an admirer of the work of Richard Mille, and the pair famously collaborated on a kind of“ultimate survival watch” in 2018. One of Stallone’s personal versions of that RM-25-01 is included in the auction items, as well.
Lot 47: Panerai Luminor “Pre-Vendome” 5218-201A from Daylight
It is not an overstatement to say that Stallone, and this watch in particular, helped define the Panerai brand itself and pushed a little-known watchmaker into a more global spotlight. Stallone wore this watch in every scene of the 1996 film Daylight as he led an escape out of the collapsed Holland Tunnel. In fact, this circa 1993, 44mm stainless steel Logo timepiece on a bold sharkskin strap never left his wrist during the production and remained in Stallone’s possession until now.
Lot estimate: $40,000 – $80,000
Lot 48: Richard Mille Yohan Blake “Beast” RM 59-01 AN CA
From a lightweight limited series created in 2013 to honor Olympic sprinter Yohan Blake, this numbered 11 of 50 translucent skeletonized tourbillon-equipped timepiece is also from Stallone’s personal collection. The vibrant 42mm tonneau employs advanced composite construction, including injected carbon nanotubes and titanium to reduce weight. As with all of the Stallone lots in this auction, a hand-written note from the actor accompanies the purchase.
Lot estimate: $300,000 – $600,000
Lot 49: Richard Mille Automatic Winding Flyback Chronograph Diver RM032 AL TI from The Expendables III
This massive, 50mm titanium diver chronograph (which also includes an annual calendar function) just screams rugged military excitement. And while portraying elite mercenary Barney Ross, the watch rode along with Stallone as he screamed his way through the 2014 action film The Expendables III. In addition to the screen gravitas and signature Mille artistry, depth, and complexity, this timepiece is a seriously legitimate tool; meeting all ISO 6452 dive watch standards along with enhanced underwater legibility and extra-secure crown-locking mechanics.
Lot estimate: $60,000 – $120,000
Lot 50: Richard Mille Skull RM51-01 AN CA-TZP
Skull iconography, bejeweled and not, has become closely associated with Richard Mille’s work after the watchmaker revivified the classic “memento mori” (or, reminder of mortality) symbolism from the annals of watchmaking history in 2012. This numbered 13 of 30 special pink-gold skull motif, from Stallone’s collection, carries a decidedly clean and masculine vibe befitting an action star. Released in 2013, this 42.7mm tonneau-shaped tourbillon features a TZP ceramic and carbon nanotube case.
Lot estimate: $350,000 – $700,000
Lot 51: Richard Mille Chronograph Adventure RM20-01 CA
Not to sound too corny, but this watch could save your life. At least, that was the intention of this limited edition collaboration from 2018 between Sylvester Stallone and Richard Mille that was sparked by the innocent question: “What watch would Rambo wear?” Taking that life-or-death premise into the stratosphere, this numbered 3 of 20 51mm carbon and titanium piece of gear marries a tourbillon for accuracy and a chronograph function from the world of horology with a removable compass tool and level, and, yes, a secret compartment to hold water purification tablets from the tactical world.
Lot estimate: $250,000 – $500,000
By taking the disciplines of classic circus performance and elevating them into the realm of eye-dazzling art form, Guy Laliberté, the co-founder of Cirque du Soleil, has certainly come a long way from his beginnings as a Canadian street busker. Among his many laurels, Laliberté is also the founder of the One Drop water-focused charity. That charity, along with the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, forms a special charity initiative called Time Counts for the Phillips “Racing Pulse” Auction.
As it turns out, Laliberté’s also a keen watch fan; especially those fine time-keeping instruments created in Le Brassus. A set of four exceptional Audemars Piguet open-worked Royal Oak timepieces donated by Laliberté leads off the offerings of Time Counts.
While all of Laliberté’s contributions to the charity auction are Royal Oak Grande Complications ranging from 2007 to 2009 vintages, they are being offered separately in individual 18k yellow gold, 18k white gold, 18k pink gold, and stainless steel executions. With an auction estimate of between $200,000 to $400,000 each, the timepieces are also being offered without reserve.
All executions are loaded up and share exacting complications. Expect a minute repeater, perpetual calendar, split-seconds chronograph, leap year and week indication, and moon-phase recording as well as an exquisitely skeletonized dial and unmistakeable 44mm case, regardless of the metal used. An automatic caliber 2885_SQ movement constitutes the heart of each performer in this “four-ring” circus.
Phillips “Racing Pulse” auction will take place in New York on December 12. The auction’s full catalog of 137 lots, which includes advance bid placement options, can be found here.
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