Profiles in Time: Andy Warhol’s Watches

Andy Warhol is a somewhat polarizing figure in the art world. His philosophies and experimentation concerning art, celebrity, and consumerism flew in the face of established artistic tradition at the time. He galvanized an underground artistic movement in New York during the 1960s and 70s, and his name has become synonymous with the pop art movement.

Warhol was an early adopter of many modern art techniques and even created some of his own. Warhol was known for the blotted-ink style he used on many of his commercial pieces, which was his interpretation of the silk screen printmaking technique. Warhol’s work is full of smudges and smears, which illustrates his casual approach to art— embracing the mistakes and turning them into something else. But arguably, Warhol is most well-known for his painting of everyday objects, such as his famous Campbell’s Soup can or Coca-Cola cans, as well as his depictions of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, all in bright, almost neon, color.

Andy Warhol’s Watches

Warhol had an appreciation for art which translated into his penchant for luxury watches. Over the span of his career in the public eye, he often sported a specific Rolex or Cartier watch.

Warhol and his Cartier Tank

Warhol and his Cartier Tank

Andy Warhol’s rose gold Rolex was a rare ref. 4021 from the 1940s. It has an 18kt gold case, silver dial with blue hands, and Arabic hour markers. According to auction records, Warhol originally bought the watch off a man named Russell Brown and added a new rose gold and steel bracelet. He kept it until his death in 1987. In 1988, Sotheby’s auctioned off much of Warhol’s estate, including his Rolex, which wouldn’t reappear until 2013 for public sale.

Andy Warhol Rolex

Warhol’s Rolex ref. 4021

Warhol was once quoted saying “I don’t wear a [Cartier] Tank watch to tell the time. In fact, I never wind it. I wear a Tank because it’s the watch to wear.”

In 1988, David Stickelber (a prominent Kansas City arts patron) bought Warhol’s Cartier Tank from the 1988 Sotheby’s auction. When Stickelber himself passed away, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers auctioned off many of his possessions, including Warhol’s Tank.

Warhol's Cartier Tank

Warhol’s Cartier Tank


For a man (and artist) that was keenly obsessed with artistic expression, the cult of celebrity, and appearances (both superficial and not), it’s interesting to see that perspective reflected in his choice of watches.


Editor’s Note: This article was first published August 6th, 2013 and has since been updated for accuracy and interest. 

Image Credits: Header; Getty Images. 1; Cartier. 2; 1st Dibs. 3; Leslie Hindman Auctioneers. 

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