Donald Healey’s wristwatch going to Bonhams auction

Donald Healey, wearing the Rolex, shows an engine at the Triumph factory during the 1930s | Bonhams photo
Donald Healey, wearing the Rolex, shows an engine at the Triumph factory during the 1930s | Bonhams photo

For the many admirers of British automotive visionary Donald Healey, Bonhams has a coveted piece of his personal history coming up for auction: Healey’s vintage Rolex wristwatch.

The 9ct gold Rolex Striped Prince that Healey wore for much of his life (1898-1988) will be offered for the first time during Bonhams’s Bond Street Motor Car Sale in London on December 6. On the reverse side of the rectangular watch is the inscription, “Donald Healey, Perranporth,” in honor of his birthplace of Perranporth, Cornwall.

 The Healey watch is a Rolex Striped Prince with an engraved back
The Healey watch is a Rolex Striped Prince with an engraved back

Healey purchased the watch during the 1930s to mark his success in rally racing, such as winning seven Glacier Cups in the Alpine Trials.

“Donald was justly proud of such rallying success,” his grandson, Peter Healey, said in a Bonhams news release. “The Rolex was a reward to himself.”

The watch has been kept in the family through the generations and now is being offered directly by his descendents. Bonhams’ pre-auction value estimate is £8,000 to £12,000 ($12,400 to $18,500).

Donald Healey is best-remembered for development of one of Britain’s most popular sports car brands, Austin-Healey. Before founding his own automotive company in 1945, he worked for Triumph, where he led development of the Triumph Gloria and designed the supercharged straight-eight Triumph Dolomite, which he drove in the Alpine Trial of 1936.

With his own company, he initially created Healey cars, and he collaborated with other manufacturers on such projects as the Nash-Healey. In the 1950s and ’60s, he developed Austin-Healey sports cars, and in the ’70s, the Jensen-Healey.

“The Bonhams Bond Street Motor Car Sale presents a fantastic selection of motor cars, including two of the most important Austin-Healeys ever offered,” James Knight, Bonhams Group Motoring Director, said in the news release. “To offer the Rolex Striped Prince, worn by the great man himself, plus his much-loved everyday car – the– and the 1959 Works Rally 3000 ‘SMO 746’ is simply extraordinary.”

For more information about the Bonhams sale, see the auction website.

4 thoughts on “Donald Healey’s wristwatch going to Bonhams auction”

  1. Possibly the most beat up Rolex I’ve ever seen.look at it only as a historical piece with a famous owner because to bring it back to a wearable condition will cost as much again as its eventual high price at auction. Don’t get me wrong I would love it if it was mine but it would need to look like a Rolex perhaps with normal wear and tear.this looks like it’s been in the bottom of his old toolbox for twenty years and a cheap strap put on for the photo shot haven’t helped.

  2. Blokes maybe this watch has done a couple of Monte Carlo rallys, a Mille Miglia and who knows what else. Donald was a great competitor/driver. The first Englishman to win the Monte Carlo. He drove a Healey across the USA.
    The watch was probably on his wrist when he did 203.11 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Oh and he also often water skied with Stirling Moss so I guess the watch is ‘second hand and in used condition’. If only it could tell the stories!

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