Important Collectors' Wristwatches, P...
New York, Jun 11, 2009
Steve Mc Queen's Rolex
Ref. 5512, Rolex, Oyster Perpetual, Submariner, 660 ft = 200 m, Superlative
Chronometer Officially Certified, Ref. 5512/5513. Made in 1967.
Fine, center seconds, self-winding, water-resistant, stainless steel diver?s wristwatch
with a stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet. Accompanied by a letter of authenticity
from Jimmy Brucker.
C. Three-body, polished and brushed, screwed-down case back and crown, graduated
bi-directional revolving black bezel for the decompression times, Triplock winding-crown
protected by the crown guard. D. Black with luminous round, triangular and baton
indexes, outer minute division. Luminous steel skeleton hands. M. Cal. 1570, rhodiumplated,
26 jewels, straight-line lever escapement, monometallic balance adjusted to five
positions and temperatures, shock absorber, self-compensating free-sprung Breguet
balance spring, Microstella regulating screws.
Dial, case and movement signed.
Diam. 40 mm. Thickness 14 mm.
USD 10,000 - 20,000
EUR 7,500 - 15,000 / CHF 11,000 - 22,000
Sold: USD 234,000
Overhaul recommended, at buyer's expense
After a successful foray into British motorcycle sport, Bud Ekins moved to California and ran a very successful Triumph dealership.
He had become something of a hero to Hollywood?s young movie actors, who would often hang out at his shop. One of those actors
was Steve McQueen. When McQueen bought an off-road motorcycle, Ekins, then the absolute master of Southern California off-road
motorcycle racing, coached him in bike control on the desert washes and fire trails of the area. McQueen, in turn, got Ekins stuntman
jobs in the film industry. They quickly became very close friends and their attention turned to racing and collecting cars and bikes.
In 1970, James F. Brucker (an avid car collector) opened the ?Movie World Cars of the Stars Museum? in Buena Park, with his son
Jimmy. The Bruckers displayed 150 vehicles at Movie World Museum and would regularly rent cars from their collection to Hollywood
producers for use in the making of motion pictures. The Bruckers hired Ed ?Big Daddy? Roth (a famous custom car builder) as art
director for the Museum and subsequently Von Dutch (a famous motorcycle mechanic, pin striper and metal fabricator).
Bud Ekins had several motorcycles on loan to Movie World Museum and he would stop
by the Museum from time to time to check up on the bikes and see if there were any
interesting motorcycles available. In 1975, Ekins introduced Jimmy Brucker to Steve
McQueen. Once McQueen discovered Movie World Museum and the car and
motorcycle devotees that surrounded it, he started hanging out there on a frequent
basis. At the time, Von Dutch was working and living in the back of the Museum and
McQueen utilized Von Dutch?s mechanical skills to keep his bikes operating in top
condition. Jimmy Brucker and Steve McQueen became good friends during this period
and increasingly McQueen would consult Brucker on cars, guns, antiques and other items
for his growing collection.
Since both McQueen and Brucker were avid collectors, they would frequently trade
collectibles with each other. According to Brucker, Steve McQueen was a man of
simple tastes and only collected items that he truly appreciated without regard to its
popularity, he was neither a showoff nor speculator. Eventually, McQueen put Jimmy
Brucker in charge of his automobile collection. McQueen gave Brucker a Power of
Attorney for vehicle titles, so that Brucker could buy and sell cars for his collection without
McQueen having to be present for the transfer.
In 1977, McQueen came by Movie World with a heavy beard he had grown for the movie ?Enemy of the People.? Brucker gave
McQueen a Von Dutch engraved rifle and knives from his collection and McQueen got so excited that he took off his stainless steel
Rolex Submariner from his wrist and gave it to Brucker as a gift. Brucker and McQueen took a picture together that day, which was
rather rare since McQueen seldom allowed anyone to photograph him in the last years of his life. Several months later, Jimmy Brucker
and McQueen chartered a small plane to Idaho in order to view a ranch he was considering buying. On the way McQueen asked for
the watch back explaining that it was a gift from someone and that he did not want to offend that person by having given it away.
Brucker obliged and returned the watch. The trip aboard the single engine Cessna was also memorable because they hit an ice storm
and nearly did not make it. McQueen had a driver pick him up in Idaho and shuttle him back to Los Angeles. Following that incident,
McQueen vowed to learn to fly his own airplane. McQueen wore the watch on-screen in the movies ?The Hunter.?
In 1979, Steve McQueen moved to Santa Paula, California, a sparsely populated farm community a few hours north of Los Angeles.
McQueen made good on his promise to learn to fly an airplane and purchased a hangar at the Santa Paula airport. The hangar
became a focal point of his life and he spent most of his time living in the hangar. Many of McQueen?s cars and bikes were stored in
the hangar together with a growing collection of antiques, signs, posters, furniture, vintage toys and art.
The Brucker family owned a large fruit packing warehouse across from McQueen?s Hangar at Santa Paula and most of their
collection from Movie World Museum was moved there in 1979, including Von Dutch himself, who lived in the warehouse. Jimmy Brucker
spent time with McQueen in Santa Paula and McQueen continued to collect, and stored and displayed his collection at his hangar.
In the spring of 1980, McQueen returned to
Santa Paula and stopped by Brucker's warehouse
and gave Jimmy Brucker back the
Rolex Submariner. Brucker did not see him
many times after that and it seemed to him
that McQueen was trying to come to terms
with his illness. Upon his untimely death,
McQueen bequeathed his airplane Hangar
at the Santa Paula Airport to Jimmy Brucker.
Thereafter, Steve McQueen?s attorney, Ken
Ziffren, contacted Jimmy Brucker to assist in
the liquidation of his estate. In 1984, Brucker
oversaw the McQueen Estate auction at
the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas, which
was highlighted by the sale of McQueen?s
XK-SS Jaguar for a world record price.
In the ?Brucker Brothers? Kustom Kulture
Collection? auction in May of 2006, Jimmy
Brucker sold a few items that he received
from McQueen including the Von Dutch
custom engraved locks for the airport
hangar, McQueen?s handprints in a cement
block and his keys to the Beverly Hills Hotel
Suite. The present lot remains one of the
last items that Jimmy Brucker received from