The iconic Elvis Presley – known for his outrageous hip gyrations and phenomenal showmanship – was also an avid watch lover, collector and trader. It is said that he would often take a watch he was wearing off his wrist and trade it with a fan if he saw another watch he liked better. That portion of The King’s life was not in focus in the recent “Elvis” movie, but if you looked closely enough, you could get a glimpse at one or two that replicated his style.
Before we look at the past, let’s take a look at the present. Actor Austin Butler, who plays the legendary singer and actor in the new movie, is actually a Cartier brand ambassador and wore a Cartier to the premiere of the Elvis movie in Cannes. With his classic tuxedo, Butler donned a Tank Must de Cartier watch in steel with a leather strap. He also wore a Juste un Clou Cartier white gold bracelet and a Love ring. At the London premiere he wore black pants, a white tee-shirt and a white jacket – accenting it all with an 18-karat yellow gold Tank Louis Cartier watch (and some Cartier jewelry). In the movie, Butler wore what the costume designers directed him to wear – watches that recalled Elvis’s collection.
In real life, Elvis had a watch collection that at times could rival his car collection. He wore Hamilton, Bulova and even Rolex. When he was in Germany serving in the U.S. Army, he wore a pink gold Omega Constellation (from 1958-1960) that had a black dial. That watch went up for auction a decade ago, in June of 2012, by Antiquorum and sold for $52,500.
Upon his return home from the war, Elvis fell in love with a Hamilton Ventura watch, the world’s first electric timepiece shaped like a triangle. He wore that watch in the 1961 movie Blue Hawaii (in the days when actors could wear their own watches) – making it famous around the world. Today, Hamilton releases different Ventura watches and has one that closely resembles the one owned by Elvis. In fact, seven years ago, Hamilton introduced the Elvis watch to commemorate what would have been the singer’s 80th birthday and in 2022, released a commemorative piece for what would have been Elvis’ 87th..
Also in 1961, RCA record company gifted him an 18-karat white gold Omega Constellation bought from Tiffany with diamonds on the bezel and an engraving on the case back that read “To Elvis, 75 Million Records, RCA Victor, 12-25-60.”
In 1968, when he was making his comeback television concert, he accented his black leather outfit with a custom leather strap made for his Bulova Accutron Astronaut watch. Presley reportedly traded that watch with a fan. He also wore and loved his Accutron-521 18-karat yellow gold square watch with asymmetrical case. In fact, the brand recently unveiled a new Accutron-521 watch that honors the original that The King of Rock and Roll owned.
Other watches Elvis was spotted wearing include a Rolex Submariner and a Rolex King Midas asymmetrical rectangular cased watch with an integrated bracelet. That watch had originally been designed for Rolex by Gerald Genta (who also designed the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and the Patek Philippe Nautilus). The watch, one of just 1,000 ever made, was a gift to Elvis in 1970 after he performed six consecutive “sold-out” concerts. It is on display in his Memphis home, Graceland.
He also wore a Swiss Ebel watch in 18-karat gold with a hammered bracelet and a square dial surrounded by diamonds. He later gifted this watch to J.D. Sumner, his backup singer and good friend. That watch was up for sale for $498,000 at M.S. Rau Fine Arts and Antiques in New Orleans. We get it, everything Elvis gets everyone “all shook up.”