Every now and then we enjoy a bit of spookiness – especially when Autumn has come and Halloween is around the corner. We go to the cinema to watch horror movies, listen to crime podcasts and put our courage to the test in haunted houses and dungeons. But unfortunately, criminals and their cruel actions may sometimes be far from being just fiction. On the occasion of October 31, we have prepared a Halloween special for you that focuses on the watches of the most notorious criminals of mankind's history.
The world's greatest criminals and their watches
We have already introduced you to the watches of famous film villains before – and to be honest, we were glad that these are fictional characters who only make us shiver when they appear on screen. But this time, in view of the scariest night of the year, we want to take a look at real-life criminals and their timepieces. As you know, with great power usually comes great responsibility, however, a lot of money does not always come with good taste, or does it? See for yourself which watches were worn by the greatest criminals of all time.
The Iced Out Rolex of a drug lordHe was the biggest drug lord of his time, worth $30 billion and known for his ruthless crimes. Pablo Escobar, also known as El Patrón, became the epitome of cocaine and international drug trafficking. As the richest criminal in the history of the world to date, his $30 billion at the time is equivalent to about $59 billion today. His wealth enabled him to live in decadent opulence with breathtaking mansions, a car collection looking like a museum’s exhibition, diamond-studded pistols, a private zoo, planes, helicopters and, of course, exclusive watches.
Particularly one of Escobar's watches stands out from the rest. His fully diamond-studded Rolex Day-Date was sold at an auction in Bogotá, Colombia, in 2013 for just $8,500. Based on the current exchange rate, this corresponds to about €7,290. A real bargain considering that the drug lord's Iced Out Rolex, made of solid yellow gold and decorated with hundreds of diamonds, was estimated at around $70,000. Maybe the previous owner had a slightly deterrent effect on the auction? However, the new owner of the Escobar Rolex wanted to stay anonymous and said that "you never know who might track you down and ask for their things back". Furthermore, he expressed plans to melt down the criminal's watch and other gold jewellery bought at auction. Since he doesn't like where these items come from, he considers the material of the auctioned goods to be just an investment.
ROLEX DAY-DATE 1803
However, if you happen to like Pablo Escobar's watch, then you should take a look at this second-hand Rolex Day-Date (Ref. 1803). The model in question is also made of yellow gold and was later set with diamonds by a jeweller – not quite as many as you can find on Escobar's Rolex, but still enough to catch the eye. For €18,150 you can – style-wise – follow in Escobar's footsteps, one of the greatest criminals in history.
American gangsters showing style
Al Capone and his Rolex PrinceWe have already looked at movie villain Tony Soprano and his yellow gold Rolex Day-Date when we were talking about fictional criminals. In real life, however, American Mafia bosses seem to be a little less concerned with obvious pomp around their wrists. So let's take a look at one of the most notorious criminals of American history, the mobster Al Capone, also known as Scarface. The figurehead of the American Mafia has been the source of inspiration for numerous films, video games and books. With a hat, coat, machine pistol in his hand and a cigar in the corner of his mouth, Capone stands for a rather dark chapter of the city of Chicago during the 1920s and 30s. His wrist, however, was adorned with a watch model you might not expect to see. Well, you could have seen a Rolex coming – but a Rolex Prince? The elegant Al Capone wristwatch in art deco design comes with a rectangular yellow gold case and a small second on a leather strap. Capone's Rolex looks rather modest from today's point of view, but based on the time it was made, it must have had an aura similar to that of a full pavé model today. As one of the brand's first chronometer-certified models, at that time, Al Capone's Rolex Prince was a symbol of the company's extraordinary precision and high quality. Placed on the wrist of the top gangster, the Rolex Prince became a genuine status symbol from Rolex indicating style and luxury.
John Gotti's PiagetAnother one of the biggest and most dangerous criminals of the United States was New York gangster boss John Gotti, who showed a little less restraint. It may be due to the time Al Capone wore his Rolex watch, but alongside John Gotti's Piaget the Rolex looks rather inconspicuous. The Piaget worn by John Gotti is a Piaget Ultra-Thin with the reference 9765, featuring a bezel set with diamonds, a white gold case and a bracelet also made of white gold. This man, also known by the nickname "Dapper Don", showed his sense of style and fashion not only with his timepieces but also with his choice of clothing in general. It was the same watch that Breitling brand ambassador John Travolta wore when shooting the film "Gotti". The former Mafia boss’s son lent Travolta his father's Piaget watch in order to get into the character of John Gotti.
A British crime duo with a taste for goldKnown for Tom Hardy's starring role in the film "Legend", the twins Ronald and Reginald Kray are up next in our list of the most notorious criminals of all time. Together with their gang "The Firm" they ruled the East End of London during the 1950s and 60s with brutality. Between murders, psychotic outbursts of rage and vicious tricks, the two former amateur boxers managed to establish a monopoly position for themselves. They even welcomed politicians and celebrities in their pubs. All this would certainly not have been possible without their crimes and merciless actions. The Kray twins were thus able to maintain a quite luxurious lifestyle, which naturally included proper wristwatches. Several watches were part of the Krays' memorabilia. Reginald's fondness for gold wristwatches led him to regularly wear various watches made of solid yellow gold, including models from Rotary and one from Omega, which can also be seen in the film "Legend". The Omega watch comes with a delicate bracelet and a champagne-coloured dial framed by a bezel set with diamonds. Twin brother Ronnie also used to wear gold watches. His estate contained, among other things, a model by Longines, a golden watch by Waltham and a cheap steel watch in the style of a Datejust (Ref. 16233). Reginald Kray's Omega was auctioned for about £10,000 after the film was finished.
ROLEX DATEJUST 16233
A watch for the bad and evilIf one thinks of the epitome of pure evil and tries to give it a name, a certain person is frequently mentioned: Adolf Hitler. He stands for the darkest chapter in German history. With his fanatical vision of a European empire, he legitimised genocide and mass murder. About 6 million Jews fell victim to the Holocaust less than 100 years ago, making Hitler one of the greatest criminals in human history. On 6 March 1934, he was presented with a precise pocket watch, which was made by students of the German watchmaking school supervised by the precision watchmaker Alfred Helwig.
Hitler's pocket watch featured a tourbillon and an anchor escapement, two barrels, a compensated balance wheel and a gold escape wheel with a diamond endstone. The location of this watch and whether it still exists is unknown. The Hitler watch, also known as the Hitler Tourbillon, is missing to this day. The same applies to Hitler's wristwatch. Some say they can identify a Jaeger-LeCoultre model in photos showing the dictator, others recognise a model by A. Lange & Söhne. However, we do not have any further details, as this watch has also disappeared.
But we do know a few other watches from the Third Reich. In addition to Oskar Schindler's Longines, the watch of Eva Braun, Hitler's partner, is still in good condition. On her 27th birthday, Hitler gave Braun a diamond-studded model made by ESZEHA as a gift, on the back of which there is a personal engraving. ESZEHA was a German brand founded by Karl Scheufele, who established the brand Chopard, which still exists today. Braun's watch is an elegant and small ladies' watch of unknown origin with a white dial and Arabic indices. To this day, Eva Braun's diamond watch is still kept in a depot of the Munich museums, as it is assumed that this timepiece might have been stolen by the Nazis back then.
ESZEHA watch from Eva Braun (Photo: welt.de)
How a Rolex watch led to the conviction of a criminalFinally, in order to not leave you feeling too uncomfortable, we would like to share with you the story of how a Rolex watch helped to solve a murder and catch an internationally wanted criminal.
Albert Johnson Walker, better known as the Rolex Killer, was an economic criminal and con man from Canada. After he had made several million dollars through fraud, in 1990 he fled to England with his daughter and built a new life for himself using the alias David W. Davis. Walker was able to make contacts quickly and to get along in high society. Under the name Davis, Walker founded a TV repair company with an acquaintance, a certain Ronald Joseph Platt.
After a long period of hesitation, Platt finally fulfilled his life's dream and moved to Canada with his wife. At Walker's request, he left his driver's licence, birth certificate and a signature stamp in order "to do business". Walker then took on Platt's identity and continued living his life in England. In the meantime, however, Platt and his wife realised that life in Canada did not meet their expectations and almost drove the family into ruin, which is why the couple moved back to England in 1995. Walker was faced with the problem that there were now two Ronald Joseph Platts in England. So he decided to solve this problem once and for all. During a fishing trip on 20 July 1996, Walker murdered his friend, whose identity he had stolen, and threw him overboard. The murder seemed perfect and everything went as Walker had planned – until the body of Platt was found by fishermen two weeks later. However, due to the high degree of decomposition, the body could no longer be identified, leaving the police with a mystery.
ROLEX OYSTER PERPETUAL DATE 115200
After all, it was Platt's wristwatch that helped to solve the case. It was still attached to the victim's wrist. Platt's Rolex had a self-winding mechanism with a power reserve of 48 hours and a date display. This enabled the police to determine the exact time of Platt's death. But that was not all, as the serial number of the watch made it possible to find the owner, a certain Ronald Joseph Platt, and thus identify the body. Walker could then be convicted through his victim's Rolex and sentenced to a lifetime in prison. The model that provided justice was a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date such as the reference 15000 or the 115200.