Faces To Watch — An eBay Collection Like Few Others
If owning items once worn by the rich and unfathomably famous appeals to you, don’t miss eBay’s “Faces to Watch” collection, running from August 14th–August 20th. The auction will include seven intriguing timepieces from longtime eBay seller Paul Hoyt (Connoisseur of Time).
If you’ve never heard of Paul Hoyt, I’d recommend checking out his highly respected eBay store, Connoisseur of Time, and making up your own mind. Chances are, you, like me, will be wowed by the plethora of “mint” condition vintage Rolex models and other pieces from the golden age of post-war watch design.
The caveat to most of the pieces that fall into the above category is that many of them (the majority, in fact), are fitted with reprinted dials and refreshed handsets. While this raises undoubted questions of provenance, the transparency in the item descriptions and the general way in which Mr. Hoyt does business is truly laudable.
The question of whether to buy any of the pieces currently live in his shop will come down to your personal feelings on total overhauls. It’s a question that I’m asking myself having seen the exquisite, almost-new condition of these watches. In almost any other industry, the loving restoration of a genuine vintage object would likely be preferable, but when it comes to watch collecting and the almost sacrosanct “importance” of absolute originality (and all the fallibilities that come with it), the answer is never so straightforward.
The list prices clearly reflect this, but, if you’re less picky about the inimitable patina so often associated with age, you might find yourself musing whether or not to set aside the conditioning to which we’ve all been subjected and pick up a box-fresh refurb project from yesteryear.
The Faces to Watch auction
Between August 14th and August 20th, eBay will be hosting a special collection featuring seven watches supplied by the Connoisseur of Time, either owned, worn, or gifted by a famous figure from history. While eBay states that “Provenance of prior ownership is not inspected or evaluated by eBay,” the authenticity of the pieces themselves is covered by eBay’s now-standard authentication service. Crucially, given Mr. Hoyt’s standing in the collectors’ community, his 100% positive feedback rating on eBay based on 5.1K previous sales, and his history of selling watches attached to famous names with no apparent controversy, not to mention his recent selection for WatchPro’s Hot 100 list of influential figures in the US watch industry, it seems probable that the claims of association are true.
As with all vintage purchases with unverified provenance, caution should be exercised. If you are unsure about a prospective purchase or would feel uncomfortable with buying a watch that may not have the stated history, think twice. If, however, you’re satisfied by the wealth of positive feedback and various other sources that suggest these claims are made in good faith after sufficient research, you may be interested in bidding on one of these fascinating lots.
A Treasure Trove of Time
The seven items in question are a 1934 Black Starr & Frost by Zenith, gifted by Ed Sullivan, a Krieger Stainless Steel chronograph, owned by Kenny Rogers, a 1934 Fine Swiss SS Travel Watch, owned by Steve Martin, a 1960s Bulova Accutron Desk Watch, owned by Greta Garbo, a 1960s Asprey Baume & Mercer, worn by Jerry Lewis, a Versace Medusa, owned by Prince, and a Vintage Piaget, owned by Siegfried & Roy.
The watches range from the sublime (Kenny Rogers Krieger chronograph being my personal favorite) to the downright ridiculous (Siegfried & Roy’s Piaget with a wholly bizarre portrait of Roy Horn in his iconic tiger jacket, worn sans shirt but with plenty of period-appropriate chest hair in its place). Fans of the stars whose watches will go up for sale on Monday the 14th of August 2023 will surely be salivating over the prospect of owning such intimate items, regardless of how niche their appeal may be.
Despite the questionable aesthetics of the Siegfried & Roy (mostly Roy) dial, the watch itself is a fine example of Piaget’s expertise in the field of thinness. Standing just 5.5 mm tall on the wrist this watch is powered by a hand-wound caliber from the Piaget 9P series, which itself measures an impressive 2.15 mm thick. Housed in a solid 18-karat case and delivered on the original bracelet, it is certainly a conversation starter, which I imagine is a conversation that will be started all the sooner if you manage to source a matching tiger skin blazer to finish off the look.
Another stand-out piece is Prince’s Versace Medusa, which, in fairness, may require a similar level of style to the artist who once changed his name to a symbol to pull off. In saying that, of all the pieces (bar the Piaget), it is the one most clearly linked to the owner in terms of aesthetics. It is ostentatious, bold, and perfectly befitting of the man who brought us a catalog of classics throughout his life.
Steve Martin’s travel clock and Greta Garbo’s Bulova Accutron desk clock may not have the same level of appeal given their form, but both former owners enjoy huge followings and great popularity, so it is easy to imagine die-hard fans of either fighting tooth and nail to win a bidding war should it come to pass.
The Ed Sullivan show ran from 1948 until 1971 with its host highly regarded by the public and his peers. If his taste in watches is a reflection of his character off-screen, it’s easy to see why. This charming rectangular-shaped Black Starr & Frost was given by Ed to his friend Harry, a moment commemorated by the case back engraving that reads, “To Harry – My Favorite Life Saver!! – Sincere Regards – From – Ed Sullivan – July 11, 1934.”
It, like all the watches in the collection, provides a charming insight into some of the 20th century’s enduring stars, and will no doubt be a fine addition to the lucky buyer’s collection when the sale draws to a close in one week’s time, on August 20th, 2023.
FEATURED FROM ARTICLE
|Movement||Self-winding caliber BR.CAL-301; 42-hour power reserve|
|Functions||Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph and date|
|Case||41mm; CuAI7Si2 bronze; water resistant to 100m|
|Dial||Sunray brushed with applied, gold-plated indices|
|Strap||Black calfskin; satin polished bronze folding clasp|
|Limited Edition||Limited edition of 50 pieces|