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The fascinating stories behind the watches of iconic people throughout history

Watches are often a personal part of our identify we carry around on our wrists for years – if not decades – and are usually chosen with the utmost care as they can often be treasured for generations to come.

This rings true for some famous faces whose image is all apart of their appeal, and often spend thousands on making sure the watch they wear around their wrist reflects how they want to be seen by the public.

The stories of how some iconic celebrities or royals over the last 100 years chose their watches have now been revealed in a report compiled by luxury Swiss watch dealer Bucherer.

Those in the public eye can often be chosen by watch houses to represent and endorse their brand, or alternatively they may stumble across it by themselves. 

Oprah Winfrey chose her Rado True Thinline watch because she was able to wear it with almost anything, for the countless daytime TV shows, dinners and parties she has to attend as a media mogul.

She loves the timepiece so much she has also previously mentioned it in her ‘Favourite Things’ list for Christmas, which is a popular gift guide for Americans.

The TV host was most recently spotted wearing the diamond quartz in high-tech ceramics wristwatch at the premier of her Greenleaf series, and said she picked it due to its readability and effortlessness.  

As well as its athletically pleasing design, it is also durable and features a hypoallergenic element, as well as being lightweight and scratch resistant. 

In the case of Albert Einstein, he was gifted his most treasured watch by a rabbi during a lunch date at a Zionist convention held at a hotel in Los Angeles.

Einstein, who arguably understood time better than anyone – after discovering that it is relative to the speed of light, received the watch in 1931 two years after it was crafted.

The time piece was a Longines, an elegant yellow gold watch which was tonneau-shaped and had Einstein’s name inscribed on it along with the location and date.

After falling in love with the delicate watch, he also bought another Longines watch, this time a pocket watch in 1943, which is now kept in a museum in Berne along with the wristwatch.

Both of the pieces belonging to Einstein went to auction, the wristwatch was sold for an eye-watering $596,000 in 2008, making it the highest priced Longines to ever go auction. 

During his mission to the moon, astronaut Buzz Aldrin wore an Omega Speedmaster on his wrist, also making the watch the first to ever be worn on the moon.

The watch is now dubbed the ‘Moon Watch’ and was worn as Aldrin made the Apollo 11 moonwalk alongside Commander Neil Armstrong in 1969 after it met the requirements held by NASA to attempt the mission.

Aldrin may have chosen his watch due to its stealthy durability which has been proved by the many adventurers that have worn it before him, including pilots and explorers.

The model chosen by Aldrin was the Omega Speedmaster ST105.012, which featred a 42mm case and a calibre 321 and mysteriously disappeared after he followed protocol and sent it to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington to be displayed.

It is possible that today the watch would be sold for millions at auction if it were to ever turn up.

The watch was an 18 carat white gold Omega Constellation watch complete with a diamond bezel

Elvis Presley is another icon who was gifted his designer watch, the Jailhouse rock singer was given his timepiece by his record label RCA after becoming the first artist ever to sell 75 million copies of his record 

Elvis Presley is another icon who was gifted his designer watch, the Jailhouse rock singer was given his timepiece by his record label RCA after becoming the first artist ever to sell 75 million copies of his record. 

The watch was an 18 carat white gold Omega Constellation watch complete with a diamond bezel,   

The king of rock’s wristwatch went on sale earlier this year in the Phillip’s annual watch auction in Geneva, which has previously sold many celebrities’ watches including Paul Newman’s iconic Rolex Daytona for just under $18 million.

Elvis’ watch featured a thoughtful engraving on the back which read, ‘To Elvis, 75 Million Records, RCA Victor, 12-25-60’, to commemorate his historic achievement.

It is believed that the watch is the only Omega watch with a diamond bezel to be sold by famous jewellers Tiffany & Co, whose brand is stamped on the dial of the watch.

This is incredibly rare and would be near enough unheard of for designers to co-brand their luxury items now, but during the 1960s Tiffany would be associated with watches crafted by Rolex, Omega and Patek Philippe.

Elvis’ watch is thought to have fetched the second highest auction fee for the brand in history after it was bought for $1,812,500.

In his music Jay-Z has made his liking for Swiss brand Audemars Piguet clear in many of his tracks and even collaborated with the watch makers in 2006 to mark a decade in the industry.

To commemorate Jay’s achievement, a limited edition Royal Oak Offshore watch – marked with the rappers signature on the back – was released.

The numeral ten on the watches’ dial was set in diamonds as a nod to the anniversary, anyone who bought the watch was given a free engraved iPod which held Jay-Z’s entire discography.

However due to his hugely successful career and estimated net worth of $900 million, Jay has never stayed entirely loyal to the brand.

He was gifted a dazzling Hublot Big Bang on his 43rd by his songstress wife Beyonce, following his own collaboration with the brand which was called the Sean Carter Hublot Classic Fusion. 

Although Jay may be extremely wealthy, he isn’t nearly as well off as the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos, who represents his personality with an Ulysse Nardin timepiece made of stainless steel, sapphire crystals and finished with a stainless steel strap.

The founder of Amazon and the owner of The Washington Post, who is estimated to be worth $150 billion, wears the Ulysse Nardin Dual Time 233-88-7 which boasts a Dual Time function

The founder of Amazon and the owner of The Washington Post, who is estimated to be worth $150 billion, wears the Ulysse Nardin Dual Time 233-88-7 which boasts a Dual Time function

The founder of Amazon and the owner of The Washington Post, who is estimated to be worth $150 billion, wears the Ulysse Nardin Dual Time 233-88-7 which boasts a Dual Time function

The founder of Amazon and the owner of The Washington Post, Jeff Bezos, who is estimated to be worth $150 billion, wears the Ulysse Nardin Dual Time 233-88-7 which boasts a Dual Time function.

John Travolta has been spotted sporting a variety of watches over the years, but his favourite appears to be the Breitling Navitimer, which he is most often seen wearing as well as featuring in a number of their campaigns. 

The Breitling Navitimer’s bezel was used to calculate complicated operations and was hence employed by the U.S. Air Force before becoming the brand dedicated to pilots.    

Since then their commitment to aviation has grown and they are now the official supplier to major aircraft companies including Boeing, fitting their dashboard instruments.  

Travolta’s particular model features a black leather strap, black dial and white hands, encased with sapphire crystal, as well as being beautiful it also self-winds and has an incredible power reserve.

Kate Middleton is hardly ever seen without her Ballon Bleu De Cartier, which was gifted to her by Prince William on their third wedding anniversary.

Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge may appear similar to the standard model, however it has bee reported that William had a Sapphire previously belonging to his late mother the late Princess Diana encased into the elegant watch.

The watch is thought to complement her famous engagement ring which also once belonged to Diana following her engagement to William’s father Prince Charles.

William’s choice of brand doesn’t come as a shock, as the Royal’s have often been known to pick Cartier as their watch brand of choice.Kate Middleton is hardly ever seen without her Ballon Bleu De Cartier, which was gifted to her by Prince William on their third wedding anniversary

Following Royal tradition, the newest addition to the ‘The Firm’, Megan Markle also wears a Cartier watch on her wrist, which she bought herself to celebrate the success of her first big break, Suits.

The Duchess of Sussex’s model is the Cartier Tank Francaise, and features an engraving on the back which reads ‘To M.M from M.M’, with alleged hopes of giving it to her future daughter one day. 

The original Tank design was inspired by military tanks from the WWI period and dates back to 1919, although they have been updated they still hold the original ideas from the first design.

During the peak of her illustrious career Madonna was most often spotted wearing a Cartier Panthere watch, the timeless piece was launched in 1983 and was a staple for many celebrities of the time. 

After wearing the watch on her own wrist for many years and by the time she had sold more than 70 million albums wordwide, she is believe to have gifted the timepiece to Candian singer Alanis Morisette.

The watch was available until 2004 after 21 years of being bought by the wealthy and famous, however after the brand noticed a resurgence in vintage watches it was brought back in 2017.   

They relaunched the piece in steel or gold, giving the option of having it with or without diamonds, alongside the tagline ‘Jewellery first, timepiece second.’ 

Madonna’s own watch featured a quartz moves and a signature blue sapphire Crown.

Arguably one of the most famous women in history, Marilyn Monroe owned a breathtaking watch to match her incredible beauty and style – a dainty diamond Blancpain cocktail watch.

During her career where she was cast into the spotlight after landing a contract with Twentieth Century Fox, Marilyn wore the stunning time piece, which was typical of the era and believed to have been one of few accessories she owned.

The watch was set with 71 round diamonds and two marquise diamonds and is thought to have fetched $225,000 at auction by the manufacturer and is now displayed at their museum in Switzerland. 

Arguably one of the most famous women in history, Marilyn Monroe owned a breathtaking watch to match her incredible beauty and style - a dainty diamond Blancpain cocktail watch

During her career where she was cast into the spotlight after landing a contract with Twentieth Century Fox, Marilyn wore the stunning time piece, which was typical of the era and believed to have been one of few accessories she owned

Arguably one of the most famous women in history, Marilyn Monroe owned a breathtaking watch to match her incredible beauty and style – a dainty diamond Blancpain cocktail watch

Queen Elizabeth II’s most notable watch is the one she wore for her coronation in 1953, a Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 101 diamond-set timepiece, 66 years ago.

The Calibre 101 famously houses the smallest mechanical movement inside a watch to have ever been made, and the brand presented her with another 101 design in 2012 to commemorate her Diamond Jubilee.

The idea behind the watch was to create a beautiful accessory as well as a timepiece, hoping to radiate delicacy and femininity for the Queen to treasure for years to come.

The Calibre 101 famously houses the smallest mechanical movement inside a watch to have ever been made, and the brand presented her with another 101 design in 2012 to commemorate her Diamond Jubilee

The idea behind the watch was to create a beautiful accessory as well as a timepiece, hoping to radiate delicacy and femininity for the Queen to treasure for years to come

Queen Elizabeth II’s most notable watch is the one she wore for her coronation in 1953, a Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 101 diamond-set timepiece, 66 years ago

While getting in character for his role in Daylight, Sylvester Stallone wanted to work on his characters’ appearance, when he spotted a Panerai Luminor in Rome.

He is believed to have thought that the watch had ‘star power’, and was to taken by it that he went on to buy several more of the brand’s models with his signature which he gave as presents to his friends. 

One of the recipients of the watch was his pal Arnold Schwarzenegger who donned the timepiece for his role in Escape Plan, as well as being heavily featured in The Expendables. 


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