From Abraham Lincoln to Michael Jordan, America has its fair share of iconic figures. Some of these legends happen to have close links to the world of watches. Chrono24 Magazine has been working its way through icons from American history and culture who have a weakness for luxury timepieces. To start, we featured Bruce Springsteen and his penchant for the Heuer Autavia. For our second installment, we looked at Frank Sinatra and his beloved Bulova. Then we turned our attention to Hollywood star Clint Eastwood and the Rolex GMT-Master 16753 Root Beer he wore for many years.
In this article, we discuss three interesting watches worn by none other than Elvis Presley.
Elvis Aaron Presley, aka the King of Rock ’n’ Roll, is arguably one of the most important musicians of the 20th century. In his extraordinary 30-year career, the native Mississippian broke countless sales records. Estimates put his total record sales at more than a billion since the start of his career in 1954. Who doesn’t know his classics like Jailhouse Rock, In the Ghetto, and Suspicious Minds? Elvis performed countless concerts over the years, racking up more than 1,000 live shows between 1969 and his death in 1977. He also managed to squeeze in appearances in 31 movies, the most famous of which include Blue Hawaii (1961) and Viva Las Vegas (1964). Elvis was recognized with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at just 36 years of age and holds the title of Best-Selling Solo Artist in U.S. History.
Beyond the world of entertainment, however, Elvis was also interested in fine timepieces. The King owned a gold Rolex King Midas, several Hamilton Ventura models, and two Omega Constellations. Let’s take a closer look at three of his most interesting watch choices.
Hamilton Ventura: The Elvis Watch
The Hamilton Watch Company was founded in Pennsylvania in 1892, but it has been part of the Swatch Group since 2009. In 1957, years before quartz watches shook up the industry, the company introduced the world’s first battery-powered wristwatch: the Ventura. This model boasts a unique, futuristic triangular design that feels like it belongs on the starship Enterprise’s control panel. Elvis owned several iterations of this timepiece over the years, some of which he gifted to friends. In 1961, the Ventura made its debut on the silver screen in the film Blue Hawaii. Given the star’s association with this model both on and off-screen, it has become known as the Elvis watch.
Hamilton still has several versions of this model in its modern collection, including mechanical variants. The current Ventura Elvis80 Automatic ref. H24505111 and the quartz ref. H24551131 are both reminiscent of Presley’s historical timepieces. The former is available for around $1,300 on Chrono24, while the quartz watch sells for roughly $1,000. Vintage copies are quite rare and generally cost several thousand dollars.
Elvis’ Omega Constellation: The Most Expensive Omega Ever Sold
By December 25, 1960, Elvis had sold an impressive 75 million records. To mark the achievement, his record company, RCA Records, gifted him a white gold Omega Constellation on February 25, 1961, as part of a charity event. The 33-mm watch has a silver dial and features 44 diamonds. The case back is engraved with the words, “To Elvis, 75 Million Records, RCA Victor, 12-25-60.” Additional lettering beneath the Omega logo indicates that RCA purchased the watch from Tiffany & Co. The manual caliber 510 powers the watch and provides it with its hours, minutes, and small seconds display.
Elvis’ Constellation sold at a Phillips auction in 2018 for a record price of 1.8 million Swiss francs (just shy of $2 million), making it the most expensive Omega ever sold. The highest bidder was, in fact, Omega itself: The manufacturer bought the timepiece to add to their museum collection. So, if you want to see Elvis’ Constellation for yourself, head on down to Nicolas G. Hayek Street in Biel, Switzerland.
Rolex King Midas: A Gold Rolex for the King
The late Swiss designer Gérald Genta is widely regarded as the king of watch design. He is behind the famous contours of well-known models like the Patek Philippe Nautilus, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, and the IWC Ingenieur. Genta also designed the Rolex King Midas – named after the legendary Greek king – in the 1960s. The King Midas features a pentagonal 18-karat gold case and integrated bracelet. It is one of the most unusual Rolex designs to date. Weighing between 150 and 200 g, it was the heaviest gold wristwatch on the market at its release in 1964. However, the case is relatively small by modern standards, measuring just 27 mm across.
Elvis received his King Midas (ref. 9630) in 1970 from a concert promotor as a thank-you for performing six sold-out concerts at the Houston Astrodome. The engraving on the case back commemorates this achievement. The hand-wound Piaget caliber 650 powers the watch. The ref. 9630 is quite rare on the secondary market and sells for close to $12,000 pre-owned. If you want to view Elvis’ original watch in the flesh, you’ll have to visit Elvis’ former home, Graceland, in Memphis, Tennessee, where it is on permanent display.