John F. Kennedy’s personally-owned Bulova watch, the head measuring 22 mm x 36 mm. Case and band have 10K rolled gold plate tops with stainless back and backing, manual wind Bulova caliber 8AE 17 jewel movement, rose-gilt dial with raised yellow gilt numerals, blued hands with hour hand broken off at hub, subsidiary seconds. The steel case back is engraved with the numbers “1166568,” and internally signed by the Bulova Watch Company. The Pitman and Keeler overhand expansion metal watchband features an integral, gently curved presentation plate at the bottom, stylishly engraved, “JFK, 1941.” The crystal is missing, but as with the hour hand, identical replacements are readily available from Bulova new old stock materials from various suppliers. The mechanism is running but not serviced or tested, and is in excellent condition with only microfine plate scratches. The dial is original, has a scratch in the seconds graphics and wear to the outer graphics, minor oxide to the raised numerals, but presents nicely with fine color and minimally nicked surface. The case is in excellent condition showing very light wear, perfect top detail, no break at all to the lug tips in back, while the band shows a bit more wear with occasional metal showing through the plating. The presentation plaque is in fine condition with no beak. Excellent overall vintage original condition for this fine historical timepiece, readily restorable.
Kennedy originally received this watch from a female admirer on November 10, 1941, during a dinner at 15 DuPont Circle sponsored by Washington Times-Herald publisher Cissy Patterson. It quickly became one of his favorites, wearing it often because he did not find it too encumbering or flashy. This was at the time that Kennedy joined the Navy, and he later told one of his staffers that he accidentally damaged the timepiece shortly after receiving it, cracking the crystal when he tossed it onto the deck of a boat after jumping into the water. After having the watch repaired, he cracked it again during his Senate years—surely the reason for its open face today. After this stroke of bad luck, JFK retired the watch and kept it with other jewelry; it was then given to a loyal staff member following his death. Accompanied by further information and documentation as to provenance. RR Auction COA.
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