A Spectacular Large Gold Rolex Mystery Watch, With a Diamond & Ruby Bracelet Described as, Possibly, The Most Beautiful, Unique and Elegant Rolex Watch in the World
This would make a very special and most wonderful Christmas present. A unique, bespoke, Rolex ‘mystery’ watch, probably one of the most spectacular ‘statement watches’ to be seen anywhere in the world today, that once belonged to movie legend, Elizabeth Taylor. The Rolex watch movement is hidden within the spectacular, bespoke, gold diamond and ruby set 'belt and buckle' bracelet, and when worn, the watch movement is entirely concealed, and hidden, and must be viewed by simply lifting the end of the belt tab. The current cost of a 1970's Bulgari serpenti 'mystery' watch, the closest equivalent available on the market, is from £60,000 to £170,000. But, we believe, the Bulgari versions have nothing like the beauty of this one.
This extraordinary watch's history;
In the middle of October 1970 Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton arrived in Brighton for the location filming of Burton's latest film, Villain. During the filming they toured the Lanes in Brighton and visited our shop in Prince Albert St. During their hour long visit to our store some extraordinary business was transacted, between Elizabeth and Camilla Hawkins [Mark and David's mother, and wife of their father David] Camilla bought from Elizabeth, this most spectacular custom made, Rolex movement, gold and diamond bracelet 'mystery' watch that Richard had somewhat recently bought for Elizabeth.
It was the culmination of a conversation that Elizabeth had with David and Camilla concerning the purchase of a Hove mansion, that David and Camilla owned that Michael Wilding [a once very famous British actor and another former husband of Elizabeth Taylor] was trying to buy from David Hawkins snr, for Michael Wilding's 'other' ex wife, Susan Wilding. Elizabeth had been asked by Michael to intercede on his behalf and convince David to sell, as, so far he had thus refused to do.
That most curious conversation and negotiation obliquely developed into an entirely disconnected heated discussion between Elizabeth and Richard, concerning a ring that Elizabeth had seen in a neighbouring jewellers in the Brighton Lanes that very day, and that Elizabeth was determined to buy for herself. However, Richard had ‘forbade’ her from buying it. He strongly protested, and loudly argued, that he was the only one allowed to buy her Jewellery, and Elizabeth, took great exception to this affront to her status and independence. Bearing in mind, Elizabeth had, and always was, paid far more for her performances than Richard was for his. Richard’s talent and fame was world renown, but Elizabeth’s was positively stratospheric. This was the uncomfortable element to their relationship that Richard never truly overcame.
In high dudgeon, to his unwanted rebuke, Elizabeth removed her Rolex watch from her wrist, and immediately offered it for sale, and duly sold it, to Camilla, most likely simply in order to frustrate, anger and annoy Richard, and very possibly to also demonstrate her indifference of his opinions and wishes. So, the upshot was, Camilla gained this magnificent watch that October, and subsequently, a few years later, gave it to Mark [her son] as a wedding present, in May 1978.
Mark was in fact present in the shop when the argument between Elizabeth and Richard took place, and thus how the watch was offered and purchased from Elizabeth, within the shop on that grey but significantly eventful October day in 1970. It was, he says, certainly one of the most curious, momentous and unforgettable days he had ever experienced in the shop during the past 50 years. It is certainly not every day one is personally witness to two of the most famous and talented movie stars in the world having a full blown, somewhat high decibel, hour long marital discourse within just a few feet.
Bearing in mind Elizabeth and Richard were true, original ‘superstars’ in the truest sense of the word, world famous through magnificent hard earned and acclaimed talent, not, as is more often the case today, just famous for being famous.
Dame Elizabeth Taylor had another, very similar quality diamond and gold 'Mystery' watch, and she was indeed photographed wearing it on the set of Cleopatra in 1962 [see the gallery photos] It was a Serpent Mystery Watch with a very similar watch encased and hidden within the head of a diamond and gold coiled snake, acting as its bracelet, made by Bulgari. That watch was sold in December 2011 for over $974,500, however it did have the benefit of a photograph of Elizabeth wearing it, and so far we have never found a photograph of Elizabeth wearing this far superior example. It was said that to custom hand-make and replicate this unique, finest quality gold, diamond and ruby bracelet watch, with the manual 'fold-out' movement by Rolex, would likely cost over a million dollars today.
Over the past near 40 years we have combed the world of photographs of Elizabeth Taylor to find her wearing it, sadly without success, and when she created her magnificent book on her world famous jewel collection it was thirty years after this magnificent Rolex had been sold.
A photo in the gallery is of Richard and Elizabeth arriving at Brighton Station on the 16th October 1970, she may well have been wearing it then, but her arms are obscured by her jaguar print pant suit. We also show views from her famous jewel collection book,' Elizabeth Taylor, My Love Affair With Jewellery' published in 2002, that we also include with the watch. The watch is being sold in part to benefit Mark and Judy's [Mark's late wife] favourite charities, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and The Guide Dogs for The Blind Association. 10.5 inches long x 1.4 inches wide at the buckle, 130.8 grams. Bears Swiss .750 hallmark 24 diamonds and 40 rubies. There was once a small personal calling card with it from Elizabeth that doubled as it's receipt, but sadly it was lost many decades ago.
After meeting on the set of Cleopatra in the early '60s, actress Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011) and actor Richard Burton (1925-1984) began one of the most publicized and turbulent love stories of all time, captivating millions with their on-again, off-again relationship. Despite the drama, they shared a love that was deep and fierce, the kind of love that can often be as destructive as it is beautiful. According to TIME, Burton admitted he was making movies due to his desire for money, not a love for the art. However, he thought quite highly of his talented wife. He once wrote, "You are probably the best actress in the world, which, combined with your extraordinary beauty, makes you unique. When, as an actress, you want to be funny, you are funnier than W.C. Fields; when, as an actress, you are meant to be tragic, you are tragic."
We recommend this watch is professionally serviced before wearing, which we can undertake if required. Over the decades we have sold many watches, of course, mostly of a military nature, but we have never seen another watch so beautiful as this. A true work of the finest object d'art as well as a piece of useful and functional jewellery. It will be accompanied with a signed statement from Mark Hawkins detailing its full story, but sadly there is no longer any surviving paperwork from Elizabeth Taylor.
However, if one wished for Rolex to create such a fabulous bespoke watch today it would very likely cost up to a million pounds.
We offer it set within a fine Cartier watch box .
Another photo in the gallery is of Elizabeth's other 'Mystery Watch' by Bulgari, which she was photographed wearing on the set of Cleopatra. It sold in 2011 for $974,500.
The bespoke watch case and bracelet of our watch was likely originally custom made for Elizabeth by an exclusive, finest Parisian or Swiss jeweller, such as, for example, Van Cleef & Arpels or Boucheron, and was then fitted with its fold-out ‘hidden’ Rolex movement.