It’s been four years since the tragic passing of Robin Williams, one of the most talented entertainers that America has ever produced. A stand-up comedian with Shakespearean dramatic acting chops, Williams’s range was legendary. How the person who portrayed Mork and Mrs. Doubtfire was also Sean Maguire, the down-to-earth psychologist in Good Will Hunting, and John Keating, the inspirational literature teacher in Dead Poets Society, still seems remarkable to me, all these years after the films were made.
In addition to his life on stage, Williams was a pretty serious watch collector, often spotted wearing timepieces from big brands like Jaeger-LeCoultre, Cartier, and IWC, but also lesser-known marques like Urban Jurgensen, Alain Silberstein, and Doxa. He was most certainly a real watch guy.
Today in New York, Sotheby’s is holding an auction called Creating a Stage: The Collection of Marsha and Robin Williams, which offers up items from the estate of Robin Williams and from his former wife Marsha Garces Williams, from whom he was divorced in 2010. A substantial number of the 310 lots are watches from Robin Williams’s own collection, the majority of the others coming from the couple’s art and memorabilia collection. As I’m writing this, bidding on the timepiece portion of the sale, lots 108 through 152, has wrapped, though a substantial amount of the auction remains.
The most expensive watch to sell was a white gold tourbillon minute repeater, which went for $52,500, including buyer’s premium. But there were also deals to be had: Williams’s steel Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso sold for $10,000, while a white gold Daniel Roth perpetual calendar from 1990 fetched just $13,750.
But to my mind, the most desirable timepiece was also the final watch in the sale: a gold-plated, vintage-inspired quartz piece worn by Williams during the filming of Dead Poets Society, in which he had one of his standout dramatic performances. With a humble estimate of just $1,000 to $2,000, it ultimately went for $32,500. On its back, the watch is engraved “Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society, 1988.” Sure, the idea of a gold-plated quartz Hamilton fetching over $30,000 might seem outlandish to some, but we know all too well that provenance can mean big dollars, and it’s tough to argue with the emotional significance this watch carries (not to mention its relevance to film history). It’s nice to see one of the lots strike it big and to see Williams’s love of watches honored in a fitting way.
You can see the full sale results (and maybe even bid on some final items) right here.