Heritage Collection: Omega acquires the Speedmaster of ‘Invisible Man’ novelist Ralph Ellison at auction - The Scene

“This Speedmaster accompanied him through many years of his exceptional life and will be a special highlight within our heritage collection.”

The OMEGA Museum has proudly acquired the Speedmaster watch once owned by the famed American novelist, Ralph Ellison.

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Having received intense interest at a Phillips auction in New York, the historic timepiece will now return to its original home in Biel, Switzerland, where it will be showcased for museum visitors.

Ellison is best known for his 1952 award-winning novel Invisible Man. Influenced by his own personal struggles, the story addressed many of the social and intellectual issues faced by African Americans in the early 20th century. The book’s genre-defying impact garnered great acclaim, and won Ellison the National Book Award for Fiction in 1953—the first African American writer to claim the prize.

“It’s a great honor to bring Ralph Ellison’s watch back to OMEGA in Switzerland,” Omega president and CEO Raynald Aeschlimann says. “He was a writer of immense influence and a man with such an inspiring personality and talent. This Speedmaster accompanied him through many years of his exceptional life and will be a special highlight within our heritage collection.”


The Speedmaster watch worn by Ellison (ST145.012) was delivered to the USA in 1968, and shortly afterward, the writer was interviewed and photographed in Riverside Park wearing it on his wrist.

It is known that he continued to wear the timepiece for more than 25 years until his death in 1994, often under the cuff of a neatly tailored suit, as was his impeccable style.

“Mr. Ellison’s watch provides such a wonderful connection to American literature. Indeed, the timepiece itself shows signs of an active life and its well-loved appearance helps to give it a truly authentic provenance,” Omega head of brand heritage Petros Protopapas says. “We’re delighted to have secured the piece and we are looking forward to sharing this story with our museum visitors.”

The Omega Museum, situated at the brand’s HQ location in Switzerland, tells the in-depth story of the watchmaker, covering its heritage since 1848. The immersive showcases, movies and displays give visitors a true insight into the brand’s many passions, covering everything from space exploration, through to Olympic Games timekeeping and ocean diving.

Among the many notable timepieces already on display are those worn by the astronaut Gene Cernan, former US President John F. Kennedy, and the world’s favorite spy James Bond.

All photographs courtesy of Phillips from phillips.com

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