Watches

Here's How Sylvester Stallone Helped Put Panerai Into the International Spotlight

The actor, writer and director is auctioning some of his favorite timepieces.
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Next month will be an exciting season for watch collectors with deep pockets as auction house Phillips announces its additional lineup of so-called “Hollywood watches.” These are timepieces owned by Hollywood legends Paul Newman and Steve McQueen and Phillips just announced that it will also include five watches owned by Sylvester Stallone. 

The December auction features another Rolex Daytona owned by Hollywood actor and racecar driver Paul Newman. However, it isn’t the same Daytona model that fetched over $17million in an auction by the same house in 2017 but nonetheless was owned and worn by the actor, who gave it to his daughter as a gift. The estimated value of this watch is in excess of $1million (P48 million). Newman’s association with this Rolex chronograph watch made the Daytona, especially the vintage models, so desirable and highly sought-after.

What’s also exciting about this star-studded auction event named Racing Pulse, aside from the fact that all of the 138 timepieces are highly collectible watches, is the fact that Phillips added the watch collection from Hollywood’s A-list action star Sylvester Stallone up for bids, including the Panerai watch he wore in the 1996 movie Daylight and a Richard Mille watch he wore in the 2014 movie Expendables 3. The auction will be held live in New York on December 12 and will also feature “Time Counts,” a charitable initiative in collaboration with The One Drop and The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundations.

Photo by Panerai.
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Five highly collectible timepieces were consigned by Stallone himself for this upcoming auction, which consists of a Panerai “Pre-Vendome” Luminor watch that he wore in Daylight and four Richard Mille timepieces that includes one watch he wore in Expendables 3

Stallone and Panerai 

Stallone was an important figure for Panerai, and story has it that he saw the brand for the first time when doing some movie projects in Florence and Rome. Back then, Panerai was an independent brand when retired Marina Militare engineer Dino Zei took over Officine Panerai in 1993 and began producing a collection of limited edition military-inspired watches not for military use but for the civilian market. 

Panerai used to supply timepieces mostly to various European military outfits. These watches were fairly unknown and the watches made for the civilian market were known as the “Pre-Vendome” Panerai watches and according to records, about 677 pieces were made prior to the Vendome Group (now called the Richmont Group) taking over the business.

Stallone wearing his Richard Mille in the 2014 film The Expendables 3

Photo by IMDB.
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Stallone bought the watch in 1993 but the pivotal turning point came in 1996, when he wore the now iconic watch, a Luminor Panerai 5218-201/a, a “pre-Vendome Logo watch” all throughout his action film Daylight. He loved the watch so much he used it all the time during the filming and also caught the attention of other celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger, who followed suit in embracing these oversized watches. This started the big watch trend in the 1990s. The average watch case diameter would be from 36 mm to 40 mm so a 44 mm diameter watch was considered big in those days but it became so popular that even fashionable women with smaller wrists caught on the trend. 

Within a very short time, Officine Panerai went from relative anonymity to achieving enormous international exposure and recognition. As a direct result, the US market opened widely for this former military supplier in Florence, and, well, “a star was born.” Stallone continued to support and wear the brand’s watches and by 1997, the giant Vendome Group (now Richemont SA) acquired the company.

"I did a film called Daylight, and I wanted to wear a watch that no one had ever seen,” Stallone said. “I strapped this on my wrist that day and didn’t take it off until the end of filming.

According to Stallone, he never took off that watch and would later state it “went through hell in every scene,” and has remained in his possession until today. The watch is consigned under lot number 47, where the Panerai Luminor 5218-201/a is being offered exactly as it was first worn by Stallone, along with its original mahogany box, two additional Panerai pre-Vendome straps with sewn-in buckles, and its original brass screwdriver. 

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Stallone's Pre-Vendome Panerai at the Phillips auction block

Photo by Panerai.

Phillips says that the watch is in superb original and well-preserved condition, showing the wear expected from weeks of filming in rigorous conditions, including lengthy underwater scenes. The dial, hands, case, crystal, crown and strap are all original to the watch, and its case has never been polished. It is further accompanied by a letter personally handwritten and signed by Stallone on his private stationary describing the watch, along with an original 1996 studio-issued lobby card from the “Daylight” film, also signed by Sly, with specific reference by him to this exact watch. It is hard to believe that a watch of this historic significance was estimated by Phillips to fetch between US$40,000 to 80,000 only. But we will never know until the hammer is down, we’ll have another follow up story on this soon.

Stallone's other watches 

Aside from being an accomplished Hollywood A-lister on big action films, Stallone expanded his craft to include being a writer, director and producer and has made many successful films. He first gained worldwide recognition when he played the title role in his own screenplay of Rocky, which won the Academy Award in 1976 for Best Picture.

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Sylvester Stallone at the London Photocall for The Expendables 3 

Photo by (Phillips) Dave J. Hogan, Getty Images.

More recently, he starred and produced his most ambitious project, the action thriller, The Expendables¸ which he also wrote and directed, co-starring with other Hollywood A-Listers and eventually made two more sequels. Stallone is the only actor in history to open a Number One film across five decades. He is also consigning one of the watches he wore in The Expendables 3, a Richard Mille Ref. RM032 AL TI titanium annual calendar flyback chronograph.  The massive 50 mm diameter watch can be prominently seen in some of the action scenes in the 2014 film. Consigned under lot number 49, Phillips estimates the watch to be sold between $60,000 to $120,000. He also has three other Richard Mille watches consigned in lot numbers 48, 50 and 51. These are highly limited edition timepieces of various complications with six to seven-digit dollar figures.

Stallone wore the exact watch during filming of The Expendables III, and it is clearly visible in the film, as well as in the official trailer (while flying a plane next to Antonio Banderas) and official press photographs. The film stars Stallone alongside Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes, Banderas, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Jet Li, Kellan Lutz, and Ronda Rousey, as they incorporate younger team members into the veteran Expendables crew. The watch is accompanied by a handwritten note from Stallone and an additional Richard Mille strap.

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For more information about the auction, visit the site.

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