LIST: Five of the most important lost watches

LIST: Five of the most important lost watches

Felix Scholz

The Story in a second:

What do an actor, a tennis player, a queen, an AFL footy player and an astronaut all have in common? At one time or another they’ve had their wristwatch stolen.

There are two humble words that strike fear and loathing deep into the heart the Time+Tide team: ‘lost’ and ‘watch’. It doesn’t matter how the watch was lost, through carelessness or care of a criminal, the result is the same. It starts deep in your gut, and then, like a faulty elevator it begins to drop through the floor. It ends, obviously, with a curdled scream of ‘noooooo’

Watches are small, portable and valuable, so it’s not surprising thieves love them. And as watch lovers, there is no thought we hate more than it happening to us. We’ve put together five of the most famous lost watches, from tennis royalty to actual royalty. But don’t feel too bad; most of these stories have happy endings.

Orlando Bloom’s Collection

Orlando-Bloom-Vintage-Orange-Hand-Rolex-Explorer-on-a-Fatstrap

Seems like celebrity watch collectors can’t catch a break. John Mayer might have been worried his vintage Rolex’s were less than legit earlier this year, but his woes are nothing compared to Orlando Bloom, whose well curated collection of vintage watches – including some ridiculously rare Rolexes – was stolen in 2009. It worked out OK for Legolas in the end, with the thieves apprehended and the watches recovered. Perhaps the thieves would have gotten away with it if the watches were easily replacable, but they didn’t reckon with Bloom’s passion for getting his prized vintage collection back. Oh, and Sofia Coppola even made a movie about it. As you do.

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Orlando Bloom’s stolen watches  (via crownandcaliber.com)

Rafael Nadal’s Richard Mille(s)

Richard Mille RM027

Ace tennis player, yes. Good at looking after super-expensive watches – not so much. Nadal has lost not one but two of his signature Richard Milles. He had an RM027 pinched from his locker during the 2008 Rogers Cup in Toronto, and in 2012 another RM027 disappeared from his Parisian hotel room. The second watch was recovered from the home of the hotel employee who stole it but the first one is still out there. Oh, and these watches cost roughly $500k each. This is why you can’t have nice things Rafa.

Marie Antoinette’s Breguet

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Without doubt the most famous missing watch is the epic Breguet pocket watch made for Marie Antoinette. The story begins way back in 1783 when a mysterious fan of the French Queen commissioned Abraham-Louis Breguet to make her a watch. It was finally completed 44 years after the order was placed, 34 years after the execution of Marie Antoinette, and four years after the death of Breguet himself. But it was worth it. Packed with 823 parts and 23 complications, the watch is still one of the most complex ever created. In 1983 (200 years after its conception) the watch was stolen as part of a legit real-life jewel heist (this guy almost certainly had a moustache and a catsuit) from a museum in Jerusalem. Soon the watch was all but forgotten, until Breguet started work on a replica in 2004. But truth is stranger than fiction. Just before Breguet were due to unveil their replica, the location of the original was revealed by the widow of the thief, and after 25-odd years spent gathering dust in a Tel-Aviv apartment, it’s been reinstated as the reigning monarch of horology.

Buzz Aldrin’s Omega Speedmaster

Aldrin's Omega Speedmaster

The caseback of this particular Omega Speedmaster Professional reads, “The first watch worn on the moon,” but no one knows where it is. Neil Armstrong’s is in the Smithsonian, but when he took that one small step; it was being used as a back up in the lunar module – which meant Buzz Aldrin’s watch was the first on the moon. Once back on Earth he sent it to join Armstrong’s in the Smithsonian, but it never made it. Most likely stolen en route, it hasn’t been seen since. The real question is, did the thief know what he was stealing, or did the most important watch of the 20th century end up in an anonymous pawnshop?

Dane Swan’s Rolex Daytona

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Swannie, still thinking about his Vegas pain.

Sources close to Dane Swan have confirmed that on an off-season footy trip ‘Swannie’ suffered a heartbreaking loss, to back up Collingwood’s on-field losses that year. It turns out that what happens in Vegas really does stay in Vegas. If that thing is a luxury watch. Because a Rolex Daytona, purported to be a recent purchase, went missing from a bedside table in the hotel, never to be found again. *Please note this is an unsubstantiated rumour, but, knowing Swannie’s otherwise solid wristgame, it sounds very possible. No happy ending with this one unfortunately – the moral of the story is hide your jewels in sin city, those cleaners know their Faux-lex from their Rolex.