As you may have seen by now, this latest Rolex “discovery”—the Rolex reference 5513 gifted to famed LA stuntman Loren Janes with an inscription from Steve McQueen that reads: TO LOREN, THE BEST DAMN STUNTMAN IN THE WORLD. STEVE. Touted as the new “hot ticket” of the vintage watch market, there’s a lot to discuss when it comes to this watch, however much like Paul Newman’s Paul Newman Daytona, this watch will without fail impact values of vintage Submariners across the board. Time after time we’ve seen watches with celeb ties completely defy any expectations, and though the origin story of this particular 5513 is a little dicey, the story will play a much bigger role than the watch itself. Here’s why.
The Origin Story
The timeline of this watch’s existence is a little peculiar, as there have been some attempts to say that the watch was Steve McQueen’s Submariner from 1964 that he then had engraved and gave to his stuntman Loren Janes in the ‘70s. That part is at the very least questionable, as McQueen wasn’t known to be wearing the Submariner at that time, and being at the peak of his career, one would expect that he would gift someone a new watch with engraving and not something that was nearly a decade old. Though technically because Steve bought the watch, the watch was once owned by McQueen, and commemorates a very significant relationship between him and Janes—a world-class stuntman who worked on 19 of McQueen’s films over the years.
What makes this equation far more interesting is its near loss in 2016. The Sands Fire that hit Los Angeles County decimated in excess of 37,000 acres of land and a number of homes, including that of Loren Janes and his wife. In the house at the time was the famed 5513, which for some time was thought completely lost. As luck would have it, the watch turned up after a second thorough search of the rubble, though in pretty depressing shape. At this time Phillips Auctions has not released the photos of the watch before its restoration, but just yesterday said photos have surfaced online via Jake’s Rolex Blog, leading us to the other half of the story at hand.
The Watch Itself
So the big issue at hand here is the level of “restoration” to this watch. Until we see the actual parts list for the restoration, looking at the photos in the link above, it’s safe to assume that much of this watch outside of its case needed to be replaced. Obviously the bezel, crystal, dial, and hands were toast, but we also suspect parts of the caliber below the dial were also compromised. In restored form the piece does look quite sharp, and the fact that period-correct 5513 hands and a glossy/gilt dial are included in the sale makes the 5513 Rolex Submariner very appealing. If you look at it the same way you would a classic car, the amount of replacement parts on the watch would likely knock overall value down a few pegs, but as with all things with a celebrity connection, the final hammer price won’t come down to the physical details of the watch, the same way Paul Newman’s otherwise very average condition Daytona sold for astronomically more than an equivalent watch without such fanciful ties.
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