Eric Clapton is a celebrated musician: the only three-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, the recipient of 17 Grammy Awards; and often regarded as the most influential guitarists of all time.
His collection of guitars has also been the subject of much talk in the industry and among fans: there’s the Fender Telecaster and Jazzmaster, the double-cutaway Gretsch 6120, his beloved 1964 Cherry-Red Gibson ES-335, and of course the legendary Gibson Les Paul.
What most people are probably less aware of, is that he’s also an avid (and savvy) watch aficionado. In fact he was among the first celebrities to collect watches, particularly vintage ones, long before it was hip to do so.
He started as a vintage Rolex collector, and over the years he was in the possession of some of the most iconic Rolex collections: the Daytona, the Yachtmaster, the Milgauss. He also auctioned many of them and donated the benefits to his foundation, Crossroads. In the early 90s Rolex appointed him an Ambassador for the brand.
picture from stefanomazzariol.blogspot
His unusual stainless steel Rolex Daytona, nicknamed ‘Albino’, sold for $505,000, setting a world watch auction record at the time. Manufactured in 1971, this model had a very different dial compared to most Daytonas, where the main dial and subsidiary dials are of contrasting colours.
picture from rolexencyclopedie
Another unique piece he owned was the Yachtmaster Daytona (ref 6239/6242), which was a prototype Rolex produced in three exemplars, never offered to the public (it was eventually developed into the modern Yachtmaster). Clapton auctioned it off at Christie's in 2003 for $125,000, and donated the proceeds to his foundation.
Unquestionably, the most famous and valuable watch he has ever owned, and quite possibly the most talked about watch made in the last 25 years, is the rarest of Patek chronographs, the platinum cased, perpetual calendar chronograph (ref. 2499) which sold in 2012 at another Christie’s auction for USD$3.6 million.
Quite simply, the Patek 2499 is widely regarded by collectors as the quintessential watch, inside out: it features the most advanced engineering, it’s finely balanced in its case proportions, and has the cleanest dial design.
Eric Clapton was not the original owner of the watch; in fact, he obtained it via an intermediary owner, but as soon as he purchased it the entire community of collectors became aware of it and so the legend of the platinum Patek grew, so much so that it became one of the most expensive wristwatch to ever be sold publicly.