Kathy Byrnes, owner of Windham Jewelers in Windham, Maine, sold a 14k gold Hamilton watch owned by Elvis Presley, just a day after announcing it was in her store.
“I knew it would sell in Maine,” Byrnes tells JCK. “Maine is an Elvis state.”
The watch, which Byrnes priced at $24,000, was purchased by an anonymous buyer, who is going to use the watch to raise money for a special needs children’s hospital in Massachusetts. Byrnes—who wanted the fun of having the watch in her store rather than worrying about making a profit—also kicked in some of her own money toward the purchase price. She is hoping the Portland Museum of Art will display it before it goes to the buyer so that Elvis’ Maine fans can continue to come visit it.
“It was a complete frenzy,” Brynes says of the public reaction. “We had a Jackie Kennedy piece previously, but it didn’t get this much attention.”
The Tankers, one of his original fan clubs, originally gave the watch to Elvis after he returned from military service in 1960. The watch wound up in Byrnes’ store after being bought a New York-based estate jeweler, who then shopped it around various U.S. jewelry shows.
It would seem that the watch found the perfect place to land.
Byrnes recounted how Portland, Maine, was supposed to be the first stop on Elvis’ 12-day tour in 1977. He died on Aug. 16, the day before the tour started.
For Byrnes, the watch conjured up memories of her father, who didn’t become a fan until Elvis entered into the military.
“We’d be watching television and waiting for Ed Sullivan to start, and my father would be worried about us watching because Elvis swung his hips,” she says. “But when Elvis went into the military, he gave him a lot of credit for doing something he could have easily ducked out of.”
Byrnes gives credit to her “fabulous staff” and the “great customers the store has been blessed with” for making the promotion a success. Because of the positive reaction, she is already thinking ahead to next year.
“I’ll have to find something from the Beatles,” she says. “But nobody beats Elvis.”