Marlon Brando is a silver screen legend who devoted himself to the industry and his craft for over 50 years. He took audiences by storm in A Streetcar Named Desire, and he solidified his place in Hollywood stardom with his Oscar-winning performance in the cult classic, The Godfather.
Brando showed promise as an actor at a young age. He could seamlessly pick up and mimic the mannerisms of his childhood friends. He also showed an early interest in film, working at a local movie theater. Performing ran in the family—both his mother and later his sisters were actresses.
Brando began his career on Broadway. It took six years of various stage roles before he landed his first screen role as a bitter, paraplegic veteran in the 1950 film The Men. He quickly rose to fame, and by 1954, Brando had won his first Academy Award for best actor in On the Waterfront. After five years at the top, Brando’s career declined in the 1960s. He became distracted from his craft by issues in his personal life. It wasn’t until his second Oscar win in 1972 for his portrayal of Vito Corleone in The Godfather that he resumed his place as one of the top actors in the world. Brando continued to act up until his death in 2004.
Brando was a lifetime Rolex man. He received his first from his parents at age nineteen—a Rolex Oyster Royalite Observatory with the inscription “To Bud, from Mother and Dad. 1943.”
Brando’s next Rolex appeared in the 1960 film The Fugitive Kid, in which his character references the Rolex Moonphase 6062 on his wrist. This may very well be the first Rolex advertisement in film—no Rolex moonphase model existed when the script was originally written in 1937. A decade later, Brando sported a yellow gold Rolex Datejust in the 1972 film Last Tango in Paris.
Brando wears a GMT Master in the 1979 film Apocalypse Now. The watch features a tropic strap and is noticeably missing its bezel. This unique watch remains one of a handful of iconic watches that seem to have gone missing.
Beyond film, it seems Brando was fond of GMT-Master watches. In 1975, he was spotted wearing a Coke GMT-Master with an oyster bracelet. Toward the end of his life, he was photographed in a GMT-Master with a jubilee bracelet.
In addition to his Rolexes, Brando owned an 18k yellow gold Vacheron Constantin timepiece gifted from Zsa Zsa Gabor to celebrate the release of On the Waterfront. The caseback is inscribed with the message, “To Marlon Love Zsa Zsa June 24, 1954.” The watch was put up for auction in 2009. Even though it was only expected to sell for several thousand dollars, it ultimately sold at nearly six times its estimated price to an anonymous bidder for a whopping $18,000.
Although Brando wasn’t a watch collector in the traditional sense, his owned an impressive assortment of timepieces. From the first Rolex given to him by his parents to his iconic GMT-Master from Apocalypse Now, his watches commemorate some of the most meaningful moments in his life and career.
Image Credits: Header; Getty. 1; Mary Ellen Marks. 2; Antiquorum.