When it comes to watches, screen legend Steve McQueen might be best known as the man who rocked a Heuer Monaco in the 1971 racing movie, Le Mans. Off-screen, however, the actor preferred to wear a nice Rolex Submariner. He bought at least two during the 1960s–a ref. 5513 and a ref. 5512–giving the ref. 5513 as a gift to stuntman and frequent collaborator Loren James at some point in the 1970s. After James’ house burned to the ground during the Sand Fire that ripped through L.A. in 2016, the watch was pulled from the ashes, and restored in Beverly Hills. Now, it’s ready to hit the auction block in October.
Consigned by Beverly Hills real estate broker Michael Eisenberg, McQueen’s Rolex Submariner 5513 has a somewhat opaque history. For instance, the watch’s original dial was at some point replaced with the ref. 5512’s matte four-line dial, though no one’s really sure when that happened. It’s also not exactly clear as to how often McQueen wore the watch himself. That he gifted it to Loren James is an absolute certainty, however, hence the engraving on the back: LOREN, THE BEST DAMN STUNTMAN IN THE WORLD. STEVE.
McQueen’s watches have a habit of fetching respectably high numbers at auction. His aforementioned ref. 5512 took in $234,000 in 2009, and the ref. 5513 is expected to go for between $300,000 and $600,000. That might not make a dent in the whopping $17.8 million fetched by Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona last year, but it’s still certainly nothing to scoff at.