It’s hard to believe that Sir Michael Caine is almost in his 90s. The legendary actor has been a paragon of British cool since the Swinging Sixties: his iconic Cockney accent, unflappable charm and suave dress sense, as well as his iconic roles in films such as Get Carter, The Italian Job and The Dark Knight trilogy.
Caine continues to dominate at the box office and on the silver screen – notably appearing in Christopher Nolan’s most recent mind-melter Tenet – but now, in 2022, he’s finally decided to slow down a bit. While he hasn’t retired from acting, he announced last year that he doesn’t want to make another film. Fair enough, too.
He’s also decided to sell some of his most prized possessions as he heads into his autumn years. Yesterday, noted London auction house Bonhams Sir Michael Caine: The Personal Collection, an auction of what they described as “a wonderful selection of items reflecting the breadth of Sir Michael’s career”… Including, most notably, Caine’s very own Rolex.
Specifically, it’s his 18ct yellow gold Rolex Day-Date Oysterquartz (ref. 19018), which he’s worn on and off since the 80s, and even in films such as 1988’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
Easily the highlight of the auction, the rare timepiece sold for a whopping £100,000 (US$133,440 / AU$182,146) – actually, once you include Bonhams’ premium, it was £125,250 (~US$167,134 / AU$228,180). That’s a lot of money for an old quartz watch. That’s around ten times Bonhams’ admittedly conservative auction estimate of £8,000 – £12,000.
Quartz (or electronic) watches are something out of the ordinary for Rolex, which typically trades in automatic mechanical watches. A reaction to the quartz crisis of the 70s, the Oysterquartz isn’t just atypical thanks to its movement – it also features a unique integrated bracelet design which Rolex hasn’t revisited since.
Typically quartz watches are less desirable than mechanical watches, but the Oysterquartz has a unique cult following thanks to its relative rarity. Rolex discontinued the Oysterquartz range in the early 00’s, so these watches remain somewhat of a novelty; a curious historical footnote. Of course, this one is particularly desirable thanks to its great condition, as well as its celebrity connection.
Caine is actually a bit of a watch connoisseur, having amassed a rather respectible collection over the years. Other than his Oysterquartz, he also owns a similar-looking, mechanical Rolex Day-Date ‘President’, as well as pieces from brands as diverse as Accurist, Breitling, Certina, IWC Schaffhausen and Timex.
It’s not just his Rolex that went up for auction. Some other highlights of the sale included a pair of his iconic hexagonal glasses (pictured above) as well as a director’s chair from the set of Get Carter and a framed set of autographs from the 1970 Tony Awards ceremony including Julie Andrews, Mia Farrow, Barbra Streisand, James Stewart, Maggie Smith and of course, the great man himself.
“It’s going to be quite a wrench to part with so many treasured parts of my life and career, but it’s the right time to be moving on. I hope these mementoes will give their new owners as much pleasure as they have given us,” Caine explains.
You can check out all the goodies and what they sold for at Bonhams online auction house here. Not a lot of people know that.