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05/12/2021
 4 minutes

Ellen DeGeneres: Hollywood’s Watch Queen

By René Herold
Ellen

Ellen DeGeneres: Hollywood’s Watch Queen

Ellen DeGeneres is known for her work as a successful talk show host, producer, and LGBTQ activist. In addition to her production company, record label, and lifestyle brands, the 63-year-old has a serious passion for beautiful and rare luxury watches. 

The end of the Ellen era?

After 18 years on television, the show master DeGeneres shocked her fans in an exclusive interview with the magazine The Hollywood Reporter that she is going to wrap up her extremely successful The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2022. “I need something to challenge me,” she explains. “As great as this show is, and as fun as it is, it’s just not a challenge anymore,” she says. Warner Bros., however, understands DeGeneres’ decision. As the production company of her show, Warner Bros. said to The Hollywood Reporter, “While we are disappointed, we are extremely supportive of Ellen’s decision to end her show next season.”

One thing that probably will never change is her love for watches. While luxury watches are by no means rare among Hollywood legends, DeGeneres outshines most others when it comes to timepieces. She is a watch nerd through and through and boasts one of the most extensive and impressive collections out there. She has a particular fondness for watches from Rolex and Patek Philippe. When she first started collecting, she primarily bought models from the current collections; however, her interest has shifted toward rare and vintage pieces over the years. Ellen’s collection includes some fascinating versions of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, for instance. 

Ellen’s Favorite Watch: The Rolex Daytona 

The Rolex Daytona is named after the famous racetrack in Florida and has been a staple in the Rolex portfolio since 1963. The chronograph also has close ties to actor and amateur race car driver Paul Newman. His preferred model features a so-called “exotic” dial. This type of dial design is quite simple: a solid white or black background with three contrasting subdials, a contrasting minute ring, and Art Deco numerals and block indices. Back in the day, the watch was actually a flop, but today, the “Paul Newman Daytona“ is the Holy Grail of watches for many collectors. For someone like Ellen, it is a must-have. She opted for a ref. 6241. You can catch a glimpse of this watch on her wrist during her appearance on Jerry Seinfeld’s show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. 

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 6241 „Paul Newman“
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 6241 „Paul Newman“

Degeneres also owns other rare versions of the Daytona, including a ref. 6263 (also known as the “Big Red” due to its large red Daytona lettering) and an extremely rare ref. 6264 “John Player Special.” The latter is more or less a yellow gold version of the Paul Newman Daytona, and copies regularly sell for millions at auction. The dial and bezel of the “John Player Special” are black, which is how the watch earned its nickname – the cigarette brand’s logo boasts a similar color scheme. Compared to these vintage classics, Ellen’s modern platinum Daytona with its ice-blue dial and maroon bezel looks relatively modest. 

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 6264 „John Player Special“
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 6264 „John Player Special“

Rare Rolexes

Ellen’s collection also contains several other Rolex watches, including a selection of Submariners. One such watch is the “Smurf,” a white gold Sub with a bright blue dial and bezel.  

Of course, any serious Rolex collection wouldn’t be complete without a Rolex GMT-Master. Ellen has some impressive references from this line. For example, she owns a gold “50th Anniversary Special Edition” with a green dial, as well as a ref. 1675 “Blueberry” with its characteristic blue bezel insert. The latter had a very short production run in the early 1970s and is, thus, a rarity today. 

The talk show host also owns several different versions of Rolex’s classic dress watches, the Datejust and Day-Date. The Datejust is the model of choice for Ellen’s wife, Portia De Rossi. The actress usually wears a yellow gold Datejust 41 with a light dial. 

Rolex Explorer II Ref. 1655 „Freccione“
Rolex Explorer II Ref. 1655 „Freccione“

Ellen’s penchant for watches is further evidenced by the fact that her collection is home to timepieces that aren’t as well known to the general public, for instance, the Yacht-Master and the Explorer II. When it comes to the Explorer II, she calls a vintage ref. 1655 from the late 1970s her own. This watch is also known as the “Freccione” (Italian for “arrow”) due to its orange, arrow-shaped 24-hour hand. The hand isn’t just for decoration but also serves as the watch’s day/night indicator. Rolex originally developed the watch for polar and cave explorers who have to go long periods without daylight and can easily lose track of time. 

Patek Philippe: Another Ellen Favorite

Patek Philippe is another of Ellen’s favorite brands – and rightly so. The watch manufacturer has more than 180 years of history to look back on and is one of the most prestigious names out there. Among the company’s numerous icons is, of course, the Nautilus. This model, one of the first luxury sports watches made of steel, caused quite the stir when it debuted in 1976. Today, the Nautilus is the absolute dream watch for many collectors. Ellen was able to add one to her collection last year during a trip to Amsterdam. While there, she picked up a vintage Nautilus from the 1970s in addition to several other rare pieces. 

Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1A
Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1A

However, the Nautilus isn’t the only Patek in Ellen’s possession. You can frequently see her sporting an Aquanaut Travel Time ref. 5164A and a Grandes Complications ref. 5204/1R-001. The Aquanaut is an excellent choice for long-distance travel because it has the ability to display two time zones at once. On the other hand, the ref. 5204/1R-001 boasts a perpetual calendar, moon phase, and split-seconds chronograph. The split-seconds chronograph, also known as a rattrapante, can seamlessly time intervals thanks to two stacked second hands. 

An Expensive Hobby

All of this luxury comes at a hefty price, of course. A well-maintained Rolex Daytona ref. 6241, for example, typically sells for upwards of $270,000. A Patek Philippe ref. 5204/1R will set you back a similar amount. A stainless steel Nautilus ref. 3700 from the 1970s costs some $140,000. These sorts of prices make the Rolex Explorer II ref. 1655 look like a bargain at “just” $28,500. 

Read more

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About the Author

René Herold

My name is René Herold, and I first discovered Chrono24 in a job listing. Admittedly, I didn't really care about watches before coming to Chrono24. However, after a few …

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