On December 10, 2019, Phillips will sell two watches previously owned by Colonel John Glenn, in its “Game Changers” auction. The sale of these two watches has generated considerable interest in the watches owned by Glenn. Here are Phillips catalog entries for the two watches being sold in the Game Changers auction — LeCoultre “Lucky 13” watch (Lot 13) and Breitling Reference 809 “Cosmonaute” (Lot 14).
In this posting, we will assemble information about the two watches being sold in the “Game Changers” auction, as well as the other watches that were owned by John Glenn.
The two watches being sold in Phillips “Game Changers” auction were acquired by the consignor in the estate sale of the property of John Glenn, which was conducted in March 2018. There were eight watches included in this estate sale. It appears that John Glenn owned some watches that were not included in this estate sale. In this posting, we focus on the watches that were included in the estate sale and we will add information about the other watches from time to time.
Update on “Game Changers” Auction, December 10, 2019.
On December 10, 2019, Phillips sold two watches previously owned by John Glenn, in its “Game Changers” auction, in New York City. Results for the auction were as follows:
- The LeCoultre “Lucky 13” watch (Lot 13) sold for a final price of $62,500 ($50,000 hammer price plus a 25% buyer’s premium)
- The Breitling Cosmonaute, Reference 809 (Lot 14) sold for a final price of $156,250 ($125,000 hammer price plus a 25% buyer’s premium)
For additional information about this sale, and photos of these watches, see our page covering the Game Changers auction.
The Watches included in the John Glenn Estate Sale
From Thursday, March 8, 2018 through Sunday March 11, 2018, an estate sale of the personal property of John Glenn was held at the former Glenn home, in Potomac Maryland. I have written a posting describing the estate sale and how I was able to purchase three watches previously owned by John Glenn, in the sale — My Hunt For John Glenn’s Watches.
Below in this posting, we provide detailed about the watches that were included in the John Glenn estate sale. Note that we have only included the better quality watches that were included in the estate sale. For example, there were certain “novelty” watches included in the estate sale, that we do no cover. The following were the watches included in the John Glenn estate sale:
- Hamilton military watch (978A movement) – markings confirm that this watch was issued to John Glenn by the United States Marine Corps
- Hamilton military watch (978S movement) — does not have military issuance markings, but this is a model that was issued by the United States Marine Corps in the 1940s
- LeCoultre “Lucky 13” watch – custom made for the Anti-Superstition Society of Chicago, and presented to John Glenn, by 13 Senators, in April 1962.
- LeCoultre “Mercury 7” watch — LeCoultre Quartermaster, with custom-printed military style dial; issued to all the Mercury 7 astronauts.
- Breitling Cosmonaute – the so-called “Scott Carpenter” model; developed by Breitling to the specifications of Scott Carpenter, who wore it on his Mercury mission (May 1962), making it the first Swiss wristwatch worn in space.
- Bulova chronograph – appears to be a “Poor Man’s Heuer”, made by Heuer for Bulova; similar to the Heuer Reference 404 chronograph
- Seiko Pulsemeter Alarm Chronograph — from the early 1980s.
- Hermes World Time – gold-plated pocket watch / pendant
Other Watches Owned by John Glenn
Beyond the watches included in the John Glenn estate sale, we see photos of him wearing several other watches during his career. In the late 1960s, for example, we see him wearing a Rolex watch, and perhaps a couple of different Rolex watches.
Postings About the Watches Actually Owned by John Glenn
Fratello Watches (October 25, 2019) — John Glenn’s Breitling Navitimer 809 Cosmonaute to be Sold at Auction — Simon Mellor discusses the history of Breitling’s 1962 ‘Wide Bezel’ Cosmonaute.
LeCoultre “Lucky 13” Watch
Blomman Watch Report (November 25, 2019) – Phillips Auction “Game Changers” – LeCoultre “Lucky 13” – LeCoultre expert “Blomman” examines the Le Coultre “Lucky 13” that was included in the estate sale.
Hodinkee (December 6, 2019) — Five Oddities From Next Week’s Phillips Game Changers Auction — Stephen Pulvirent discusses the LeCoultre “Lucky 13” watch, as part of his preview of the auction.
LeCoultre “Mercury 7” Watch
Blomman Watch Report (December 2, 2019) – Jaeger-LeCoultre and the U.S. market: Special watches – the Mercury 7 Quartermaster – In this report, Blomman examines the Le Coultre “Mercury 7” that was included in the estate sale.
Blomman Watch Report (December 9, 2019) — Jaeger-LeCoultre and the U.S. market: Special watches – the Mercury 7 Followup Report — In this report, Blomman examines other samples of the LeCoultre “Mercury 7” watch, including those previously owned by Mercury Seven astronauts Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra and Alan Shepard. He also shows a “mystery” sample of the watch, with the provenance of this watch being unknown.
Bulova Two-Register Chronograph
Hamilton Ordinance Watch (Reference 987A)
Postings About Phillips “Game Changers” Auction
OnTheDash (October 18, 2019) — Breaking News – Phillips Selling Two of John Glenn’s Watches — our posting when the first press release regarding the Game Changers auction was issued.
The Wall Street Journal (October 27, 2019) — How to Buy Iron Man’s Watch – Mike Clerizo covers some of the watches included in the “Game Changers” auction.
Quill and Pad (November 26, 2019) — 9 Stupendous Highlights Of Phillips Game Changers Auction — Covers the LeCoultre “Lucky 13” watch.
Background Reading / References
Blomman Watch Report — Jaeger-LeCoultre and the U.S. market — John Glenn owned two watches made by LeCoultre in the late 1950s, the “Mercury 7” watch and the “Lucky 13” watch. Jaeger-LeCoultre expert, “Blomman”, has published a three-part series covering the very interesting history of the LeCoultre brand in the United States market in this period. [Images below courtesy of Blomman Watch Report; used with permission].
- In Part 1 Blomman explores the relationship between Jaeger-LeCoultre, Vacheron & Constantin, Longines and Wittnauer in the U.S. market during the 1950’s and 1960’s, primarily by looking at the advertisements that these companies published; he focuses on the right to import LeCoultre watches during this period.
- Part 2 of the series looks beyond the advertising to cover the accessories that were produced for LeCoultre and the related brands, in the United States. Blomman concludes that the relationship was not only limited to the right to import and distribute LeCoultre watches, it also included collaboration in locally-made accessories such as boxes and printed papers.
- In Part 3 Blomman consider the watches that were produced by LeCoultre during this period. The movements were made in Switzerland and imported into the United States, where they were combined with cases that were made in the United States.
Fratello Watches — #TBT Two Seiko Pulsemeter Digital Chronographs — Fratello Watches provides an overview of the Seiko Pulsemeter digital chronograph, the Seiko S229-5001 (introduced in 1982) and the Seiko S234-5010 (from 1984).
New York Times (December 8, 2016) — Obituary of John Glenn — includes a short video about the career of John Glenn