Editor’s Note: Since publishing this article, serious doubts as to the provenance of this watch, namely its purported ownership by and link to Howard Hughes, have been raised. Christie’s auction house has, thus far, refused to answer our questions on the matter. Despite the serious doubts that we raised directly with Christie’s, they auctioned they watch to a buyer who paid a whopping $254,000. I strongly recommend you read our additional coverage (links at bottom of this post).
Here’s a vintage watch that caught my eye — it is a Patek Philippe Ref. 1463, owned claimed to be owned by the famous U.S. aviator, entrepreneur, movie producer — and billionaire — Howard Hughes (b: December 24, 1905 – d: April 5, 1976). It will be auctioned on June 16, 2010 by Christie’s. Its value is estimated at $150,000 – $200,000. Reportedly, this is the first time that this watch has been offered for sale to the public. It was originally produced by Patek Philippe in 1949 and sold October 11th, 1950 (to an unknown party presumably to Howard Hughes).
I, for one, am utterly fascinated with Howard Hughes. Hughes was a man of great intrigue, excitement, passion and mystique. His exploits and achievements were numerous and include, for example, Oscar winning films (from the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s), flying around the globe in 91 hours (in 1938), creation of the giant “Spruce Goose” aircraft (which couldn’t even really fly), ownership of TWA airlines (in the 1950’s and 60’s), living and owning several casinos in Las Vegas (1960’s) and many other wild and crazy business and pet projects. Sadly, Hughes went off the proverbial “deep end” late in his life and spend most of his final years living reclusively and battling severe paranoia and obsessive-compulsive habits.
Thankfully, though, he is mostly known for his positive achievements, many of which live on today including for example the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for biomedical research and science education.
As for Howard Hughes, I recommend Howard Hughes: His Life and Madness by Donald Barlett and James Steele. I read this book a couple years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it!