The Godfather’s engraved Rolex sells at auction

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A little-known auction house based in Beverley Hills, GWS Auctions, has recently sold an engraved Rolex Datejust watch, reportedly owned by Hollywood actor Marlon Brando.

The auction, held in May 2019, reached a final purchase price of $40,000 (around £31,500) by an unknown buyer. The watch has caused a little controversy among collectors, as the provenance can’t be fully proved, but nonetheless the watch’s history is an interesting one.

According to the story, the watch was presented to Marlon Brando after winning the Best Actor Oscar for portraying Don Vito Corleone in the 1973 film, The Godfather. Brando famously declined to accept the Oscar for political reasons, and it remains unclear who actually presented him with the watch.

In 1976, Brando apparently gifted the watch to Patricia Norris, who had worked as a costume designer on the film. It was then bought by the seller after Norris’s death. It is not rare for Hollywood’s famous to give presents, such as engraved crystal gifts or personal items, to members of the crew they work with.

The Datejust Rolex is of a standard design, and was probably made in the late 1960s. It is made from stainless steel, yet later models had a white gold fluted bezel. The steel bracelet has been replaced with a black leather wrist-strap, and on the reverse of the watch it bears the engraving, ‘Vito’s’ across the middle, with ‘MB’ engraved underneath. It would seem that the lack of proof that Marlon Brando did actually own the watch, and consequently gift it to Patricia Norris, hasn’t been a deterrent for the lucky new owner.

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