It's been a year since Phillips, in association with Bacs & Russo, broke the world record for the highest price for a wristwatch with Paul Newman's
“Paul Newman” Rolex Daytona Cosmograph. Needless to say, the sale sparked a complete Daytona fest, making it one of the most sought-after Rolex's by watch collectors. One of the collectors who was after the Paul Newman was the well-known Hollywood memorabilia collector and Beverly Hills Real Estate Broker, Michael Eisenberg. This year, Eisenberg offered Phillips, what one might hope will be, the next record-breaking watch for Phillips – a Rolex Submariner 5513, originally purchased by Steve McQueen in 1964 and gifted to his stuntman Loren Janes in the late 70's. The beauty of the watch? The caseback comes engraved with a special message for Janes by McQueen – LOREN. THE BEST DAMN STUNSTMAN IN THE WORLD. STEVE.
McQueen and Janes were known to have worked together in more than a dozen movies since 1958, some of the best ones being Bullitt, The Getaway and The Thomas Crown Affair. When Loren Janes was first brought into test as McQueen’s stunt double on the show, Wanted: Dead or Alive, he simply sat down with McQueen and told him that he could make him “look better than he imagined possible”. This led to Janes becoming his stunt double on almost every movie possible (nineteen out of twenty-seven major motion pictures), ultimately making the 'King of Cool' McQueen one of the most sought- after and highest paid actors, starring in the largest grossing films of his era, in his twenty-six year long career in Hollywood. Janes, on the other hand, is still considered as the seminal force in creating the modern stuntman. He was never seriously injured and never even broke a bone during any stunt. He also co-founded the Stuntmen’s Association of Motion Pictures in 1961.
Originally priced around $250 (during the purchase period), the Sub is estimated to sell for around $300,000 - $600,000. We won't be surprised if the price will exceed the estimate, considering this is the only McQueen timepiece with his name engraved on it, to have made it to auction. Adding to that, the fact that the watch was literally re-born from the ashes, we can't wait for the October auction in New York. The history of the timepiece is actually as interesting as the vintage piece itself. The Submariner 5513 is said to have survived, what is now called, the Sand Fire wildfire which had wrecked around eighteen homes in Los Angeles. One of those houses was Loren Janes'. It was only on the insistence of Eisenberg that Janes' wife and daughter went through the rubble to look for the Sub. Once found, the timepiece was sent to Rolex for servicing.
The serviced Sub now features a refurbished case and a replaced dial, although the period correct dial will also be included with the watch by the consignor, Michael Eisenberg. If you see the caseback, you can still see the soot wedged in the bracelet clasp. The watch will also be accompanied with a letter signed by Loren Janes attesting to the provenance of the Sub; a letter and photos from Rolex USA documenting its restoration, whilst also praising Janes, McQueen and the watch; as well as a book titled, Steve McQueen: A Life in Pictures, including images of him wearing the watch.
A portion from the proceeds will be donated towards The Boys Republic, the McQueen Family Charity that rehabilitated him as a youth. An additional portion will be gifted to the surviving members of Janes' family.