An Omega Watch Owned by an Ralph Ellison Just Sold for P33 Million

The watch was once owned by the author of classic American novel Invisible Man.

The Omega Museum recently announced that it has acquired the Omega Speedmaster chronograph watch once owned by the famed American novelist Ralph Ellison. When the watch was offered, many collectors expressed interest, including the company that produced the watch. Now the timepiece is back in its original home in Biel, Switzerland for museum visitors to see. 

Ellison’s best-known work was his 1952 award-winning novel, Invisible Man. The story addressed many of the social and intellectual issues faced by African-Americans of the time, and the book was also influenced by the author’s own personal struggles. Ellison won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1953 and was the first African-American writer to claim the prize.

Photo by Omega.

“It’s a great honor to bring Ralph Ellison’s watch back to Omega in Switzerland,” says Raynald Aeschlimann, president and CEO of Omega. He was a writer of immense influence and a man with such an inspiring personality and talent. This Speedmaster accompanied him through many years of his exceptional life and will be a special highlight within our heritage collection.”


According to records, the historically significant Speedmaster watch worn by Ellison was delivered to the U.S. in 1968, and one of the first known photographs of him wearing was taken in Riverside Park shortly right after. The author continued to wear the watch for the next 25 years until his death in 1994, often under the cuff of a neatly tailored suit.

“Mr. Ellison’s watch provides such a wonderful connection to American literature,” says Petros Protopapas, head of brand heritage at Omega. “Indeed, the timepiece itself shows signs of an active life and its well-loved appearance helps to give it a truly authentic provenance. We’re delighted to have secured the piece and we are looking forward to sharing this story with our museum visitors.”

Photo by Omega.

The 1968 Omega Speedmaster Ref. 145.012-67 SP described as “a culturally and historically important stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with tachymeter bezel bracelet, formerly owned by Ralph W. Ellison” was sold at Phillips Auction under Lot 138 for $667,800 (about P33 million), which is considered a world auction record for the said reference.

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Omega recently broke another auction record at the Phillips Geneva Auction Week event, selling a 1957 Speedmaster Ref. 2915-1 for $3.4 Million (P169 million). It is the most expensive Omega watch ever sold.

Photo by Omega.

The Omega Museum is located at the brand’s headquarters in Switzerland. Its extensive collection offers a well curated and in-depth story of the brand and its iconic heritage in watchmaking and innovation since 1848, sharing insights into the brand’s many passions, covering everything from space exploration, through to Olympic Games timekeeping and ocean diving.

Among the notable timepieces already on permanent display are watches worn by the astronaut Gene Cernan, former U.S. president, John F. Kennedy, and the James Bond watch collection.

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