As a general rule, doing your own hand engraving on just about anything isn’t actually going to increase the value of the object—unless you’re Marlon Brando and the item you’re engraving your first initial and last name on is a Rolex that was featured in one of your most iconic movies, Apocalypse Now, and that watch then gets lost only to reappear at an auction. Not that such a situation is likely to happen. Except that it did.
Marlon Brando’s Apocalypse Now Watch is being offered in auction by Phillips this December. The watch was worn by the Academy Award winner in Francis Ford Coppola’s film, which was released in August 1979. Millions of people have seen Brando wearing the watch as he filled the role of Colonel Walter E. Kurtz. The Rolex GMT-Master was thought to be lost, but in reality it remained in Brando’s possession until 1995 when he gave it to his daughter, Petra Brando Fischer. Petra kept the watch and is now offering it through Phillips.
The watch was shown prominently in the film with a black strap and with the bezel missing. At one point, Brando was told that he had to remove the watch for filming, but the actor responded, “If they’re looking at my watch, then I’m not doing my job as an actor.” Brando did remove the bezel for the movie, resulting in the classic look.
Paul Boutros, Phillips’ Head of Watches, Americas, had this to say in regard to the watch: “This Rolex GMT-Master is the holy grail of watches owned by Marlon Brando and one of the greatest ‘long lost’ watches to finally surface after years of speculation.” This year actually marks the 40th anniversary of Apocalypse Now. Brando described the watch as a tank—“You can do anything you want to it and it will keep on going” he told his daughter. Petra and her husband are offering it on auction as “a piece of movie history that belongs in the hands of a collector who will give it the prominence it deserves.” The auction will be held December 10, 2019.