Profiles in Time: Frank Sinatra’s Watches

Frank Sinatra has been a household name since his career first took off in the early 1940s. At just eight years old, he was performing for tips at a local nightclub in his hometown of Hoboken, New Jersey. By twenty, he joined a quartet called the Hoboken Four that went on to win first prize of a show called Major Bowes Amateur Hour, the American Idol of the 1930s. And by the age of 28, he had signed with Columbia Records as a solo artist.

But Sinatra wasn’t just a natural talent, he was a true artist­—eccentric, neurotic, and peculiar.

Throughout his life, Sinatra battled depression, which made him difficult to work with and get close to. During his years in the spotlight, he struggled to balance his desire for privacy and his fear of losing touch.

Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra in the recording studio

Sinatra’s eccentricities also influenced the way he presented himself. He was known as a meticulously pristine dresser. He valued a sharp and classic look and scoffed at the laidback fashion trends that emerged from 1970s hippie culture.

In his early years, a timepiece was part of Sinatra’s signature look. As a musician, he also understood the crucial importance of time. In order to maintain what he called “the heartbeat tempo,” Sinatra insisted that his watch be mechanically reliable and supremely constructed to guarantee precision.

At first, his choice of wristwatch may seem surprising: a modest pink gold Gruen timepiece. Sinatra later gave the watch to his dear friend Al Silvani and added the inscription, “To Al ‘Flight over America’ Frank Sinatra Hollywood 1945.”

Frank Sinatra's Gruen watch

Frank Sinatra’s Gruen watch

Years later, Sinatra’s second wife Ava Gardner gave him a Lucien Piccard watch: yellow gold with a silver frost dial. She had it engraved with a message, “To Frank and desert night. Ava.” Sinatra’s unassuming and unusual watches seem to reflect his more introverted nature.


Sinatra’s legend lives on

In 2013, Ulysse Nardin released the world’s first wristwatch with a music box function—the “Stranger,” named after Sinatra’s 1966 hit, Strangers in the Night. Just two years later, Raymond Weil partnered with the Sinatra family to commemorate Frank’s 100th birthday. The brand released the Frank Sinatra Limited Edition, reinterpreted from its classic maestro collection.

The Raymond Weil Maestro Frank Sinatra

The Raymond Weil Maestro Frank Sinatra

Sinatra was a powerful presence on stage and screen until his death in 1998. To this day, critics consider his career one of the greatest and longest-standing in history. Although the prestige of his watches may never live up to his fame, Sinatra’s artistry and appreciation for both mechanical integrity and timeless style echo within the watch community today.


Images ©: Header; Wikimedia Commons. 2; Paul Boutros/TimeZone. 3; Raymond Weil.

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