One of the most mind boggling Watch stories of last year was that of Paul Newman’s Rolex watch. Originally bought for him by his wife, the actress Joanne Woodward, for something around $300 back in the early seventies, the story goes that the then boyfriend of his daughter was continually asking Paul ‘What time is it?’. Increasingly frustrated by this question Paul Newman gave the watch to the boyfriend so that he would never ask again. Daughter and boyfriend then break up and the boyfriend with said watch ride off into the sunset. Roll forward to 2018 when that very watch appears at auction and is promptly sold for $17.8 M!

We all know that watch sponsorship in golf is vital to the sport, be it the domination of Rolex, the inclusion of Omega into some of the Tour events and the Ryder Cup when played in the US or the plethora of pro golfers adorned with the initials ‘AP’ on their upper arms, signifying their endorsement of Audemars Piguet as a brand ambassador. Every watch brand strives for the money shot of the pro golfer proudly holding aloft some trophy in one hand supported by the other hand with a big gleaming timepiece front and centre of the image on that lower wrist.

One watch that over the years has probably appeared most on tour has been the gold Rolex Day-Date of a certain Mr Jack Nicklaus. The Nicklaus Gold Rolex is the one watch that has appeared most either when Jack has lifted all of those trophies, including 12 of his 18 majors, when he’s been interviewed or in those numerous Rolex promotional videos telling us that a ‘Rolex just doesn’t tell time it tells history’. So, on the back of the huge monetary success of the sale of Paul Newman’s watch it’s interesting to hear that the Nicklaus Gold Rolex is being auctioned by Phillips in New York on December 10th.

Prior to that the Nicklaus Gold Rolex will be on worldwide tour starting at The Memorial a couple of weeks ago, this week at the US Open and then on to London, Geneva and Hong Kong, all key cities in the world of watches and where many of the world’s top watch collectors are based.

I’m sure the sale of the Nicklaus Gold Rolex will attract significant interest and will no doubt raise a million bucks or two, probably much more. It’s really good to hear that the proceeds of this watch, originally given free to Jack as a gift by Rolex at a cocktail party after the Tokyo Cup in 1966 (with the model recommended to him by Rolex sponsored Gary Player) will go to the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation in Miami.

So here’s a thought. If you’re a professional golfer, preferably of long standing, with a major victory or two, some notable other achievements (maybe as a Ryder Cup Captain) with an old watch, preferably a Rolex, lying around that you no longer need and would like to put it up for auction then can I respectfully suggest nominating the Golf Foundation as the charitable beneficiary of any proceeds. Helping to grow the game and get more kids into golf is a very worthy cause and I’m sure that they’d appreciate the support. :)

As for Jack, after the sale what will he do when asked ‘What time is it?’. I’m sure he’ll have a few other Rolexes in the watch drawer somewhere but if he really wants a golf timepiece to show his true love for the sport then I’d be pleased to sell him an ETIQUS of his choice - with all the proceeds being donated to the Golf Foundation. Deal?

Enjoy the US Open and keep a look out for the Nicklaus Gold Rolex!

Yours in Golf,

Gary Butler


UPDATE - Dec 2019

The Jack Nicklaus Gold Rolex sold at auction for $1M !