Two Watches Gifted By Elvis Presley On The Auction Block In May 2019
Kruse GWS Auctions’ Artifacts of Hollywood & Music auction is set to take place on May 11, 2019. The online-only auction offers 160 lots comprising memorabilia from musical icons such Beyonce and Frank Sinatra and Hollywood actors like Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe.
Among the items that include Paul McCartney’s personal copy of the Beatles’ debut album, “Please Please Me,” Marlon Brando’s Rolex (gifted to him upon winning his 1973 Oscar), and Will Ferrell’s Blades of Glory ski outfit, I found two wristwatches purchased by Elvis Presley as gifts.
Presley was famous for his watch and jewelry collection; there is hardly a photo of the “king of rock and roll” without some form of gold or diamond adorning his body. Today Presley might have been called a collector. But even more famous than his own watches – a variety of which you can see in Elvis Is In The Building: In Honor Of The King And His Watches – are the timepieces he gifted to other people.
These show up at auction from time to time, and right now there are two available for the asking.
The Memphis Mafia played a significant role in Elvis Presley’s life. This was the name given to a group of loyal, trusted friends that Elvis hand-picked to serve and protect him and his multi-million-dollar business in lieu of hiring professional accountants, road managers, security people, and the like.
This trusted set of friends not only worked for him, some of them even lived in his house 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When he needed a job done – whatever it was – one of the Memphis Mafia jumped in to do it, even if it was only companionship the King was craving at a particular moment. So the Memphis Mafia was a very personal group of men that we might simply call an entourage today.
The Bulova Accuquartz up for auction as Lot 9A is a watch that Presley gave to Memphis Mafia member Richard Davis for Christmas in 1974. Davis started working for Elvis in 1962 and continued within the Memphis Mafia as a bodyguard and eventually as Elvis’ wardrobe manager until 1971.
This prime example of a vintage Bulova Accuquartz measures 31 mm in diameter and features a grained gold dial dominated by applied Roman numerals, luminous dots above them, and a day-date window at 3 o’clock.
The 10-karat rolled gold-plated case back is engraved with the simple-yet-meaningful word “KING.” It comes on a bracelet with deployant clasp and is accompanied by a notarized letter of authenticity from Davis.
See more of Lot 9A here.
Lot 9 once again underscores how generous Presley was with people he enjoyed, frequently giving the gift of time. This particular timepiece is from a cache of 14-karat gold manual-winding Baume & Mercier wristwatches, one for each member of the gospel music group the Imperials (Terry Blackwood, Roger Wiles, Jim Murray, Joe Moscheo, and Armond Morales) as well as Las Vegas International Hotel bandleader Bobby Morris.
The International Hotel opened in 1969 and was often referred to as the Las Vegas Hilton after 1971. It has been called the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino since 2014.
Elvis took the International Hotel stage on July 31, 1969 after an eight-year absence from live performances. The historic sold-out show marked a milestone for Elvis and is recognized as one of the most electrifying moments in his monumental career.
This triumphant return marked the beginning of his popular seven-year residence at the Las Vegas hotel encompassing 636 consecutive sold-out shows, which became a major part of the hotel’s identity.
On the final evening of the performances starring Presley and the Imperials at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, the King presented each of the Imperials as well as Morris a personally engraved timepiece. This example was the one belonging to Morris. Except for the engraving, it is identical to one that was auctioned by Graceland itself in 2016, which Elvis had gifted to a member of the Imperials, Armond Morales.
The inscription on the back of this gold watch reads “To Bobby from Squirrly E.P.”
Note that “Squirrely,” a nickname that originated in the rehearsals for the residence, during which Presley apparently goofed around a lot, is misspelled in the engraved inscription on the back. It is also misspelled on Morales’ watch, leading me to believe it is probably misspelled on all of them.
The back is also marked with a “B&M” stamp.
The watch was likely worn very little and shows only minor signs of wear. I am particularly enamored of its 14-karat gold Milanaise bracelet, a true mark of taste in my opinion.
It is accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Bobby Morris in addition to a letter of authenticity from Graceland Authenticated.
See more of Lot 9 here, though please note that the catalog mistakenly identifies it as being powered by a quartz movement.
For more information, please visit www.gwsauctions.com/auction-05-11-19-archives-of-hollywood-music.