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‘Apocalypse Now’ Was Not The First Time Marlon Brando Wore A Rolex GMT-Master Without Bezel: Phillips 'Game Changers' Auction's Star Lot | Quill & Pad

‘Apocalypse Now’ Was Not The First Time Marlon Brando Wore A Rolex GMT-Master Without Bezel: Phillips 'Game Changers' Auction's Star Lot | Quill & Pad

On December 10, 2019, as a feature of its Game Changers auction in New York City Phillips will offer the iconic watch worn by Marlon Brando as he played Colonel Walter E. Kurtz in Apocalypse Now .

This watch is a Rolex GMT-Master Reference 1675 that is missing its bidirectional bezel with the dedicated red GMT hand that helps the wearer monitor a second time zone.

Marlon Brando on the set of ‘Apocalypse Now’ wearing his Rolex GMT-Master Reference 1675 without bezel (photograph courtesy Mary Ellen Mark)

As Brando wore his watch on an elastic lash instead of the typical stainless steel bracelet, the missing bezel truly gave the watch an exceptional, sterile look.

The Rolex GMT-Master was believed to be missing, yet in fact Brando had offered it to his supportive little girl Petra Brando Fischer – the biological little girl of his collaborator Caroline Barrett and writer James Clavell – a year after her college graduation from Brown University in 1994 and not exactly 20 years after the filming of 1979’s Apocalypse Now .

Brando, who died in 2004 at the age of 80, had 11 children, three of which were adopted.

Petra Brando with Marlon and her mother Caroline Barrett at her graduation from Brown University in May 1994 (photograph courtesy Petra Brando Fischer)

Brando talented the watch to Petra in the exact condition as found in the film: sans bezel and on a black lash. While the elastic tie found in the film had white stitching, the black lash currently on the auction house’s photographs watch doesn’t, so I deduce it isn’t a similar tie (Phillips’ press materials declare it to be the exact condition the group received it from Petra).

Marlon Brando’s Rolex GMT-Master Reference 1675 without bezel (photograph courtesy Phillips)

Petra gave the watch to her husband, Russel Fischer, on their wedding night in 2003, who chose to not wear it, but instead keep it securely this time.

Petra Brando with father Marlon and Russel Fischer in May 1998 (photograph courtesy Petra Brando Fischer)

Petra Brando Fischer has transferred to Phillips what her embraced father advised her regarding the reason for the missing bezel, and I quote from the Phillips public statement: “Brando revealed to Petra that he wore the watch to the set of Apocalypse Now in the Philippines, and he was informed that he needed to eliminate it during filming, as it would stand out. Brando said that he contended, ‘On the off chance that they’re looking at my watch, I’m not doing my work as an actor.’ He said that the producers let him wear the watch, however he eliminated the bezel, resulting in the exceptional looking timepiece that is so closely associated with Colonel Kurtz.”

The back of Marlon Brando’s Rolex GMT-Master Reference 1675 where the actor had self-engraved his name (photograph courtesy Phillips)

One surprising uncover was that Brando had engraved his name – “M. Brando” – on the case back himself.

Marlon Brando’s Rolexes and bezels

Upon doing a little research, I discovered something interesting, be that as it may: the concept of a GMT-Master without bezel was not unfamiliar to Brando even before the filming of Apocalypse Now commenced.

Two years before the beginning of filming in 1976, Brando attended the American Indian Development Association “First Americans” function at the Waldorf Astoria in New York on November 26, 1974. At the occasion he brandished a Rolex GMT-Master on an Oyster bracelet – however one missing its characteristic blue and red bidirectional bezel.

It is clear in the photograph underneath that the bezel is missing.

Marlon Brando at the American Indian Development Association affair in 1974 (photograph courtesy Shutterstock)

Fast forward to 1976. Brando was captured arriving in Sydney in October of that year in the wake of leaving the Philippines, where he had shot his scenes for Apocalypse Now. With some magnification, one can find in the air terminal photograph that he was wearing the GMT-Master from the film under his sleeve – missing its bezel, of course.

No photographs that I have discovered show Brando wearing the Apocalypse Now watch in public since this one.

A photograph taken on November 6, 1977 shows Brando outside The Pierre in New York wearing another GMT-Master on an Oyster bracelet, however this time with its natural blue and red bezel. I deduce that it is almost certain he put the now-iconic Apocalypse Now watch away for safekeeping by this point.

I am not doubting the provenance of the timepiece coming available to be purchased at Phillips in December whatsoever. It is an exceptionally interesting watch, and the lucky collector who winds up with it will have an interesting piece of history in their possession.

I am simply pointing out that Brando did indeed as of now wear a Rolex GMT-Master without bezel before this other watch stood out enough to be noticed in Apocalypse Now for the equivalent look.

Which makes me wonder what his fascination with removing bezels was!

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Quick Facts Rolex GMT-Master Reference 1675

Case: 38 mm, stainless steel

Development: automatic Caliber 1575, 25 gems, 19,800 vph/2.75 Hz frequency, power save 48 hours; officially certified C.O.S.C. chronometer

Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, second time zone

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