Omega buys JFK Inauguration watch for $350,000

The watch President John F. Kennedy worn when he was inaugurated has been auctioned for $350,000. After a fierce bidding war with avid collectors, Omega, the global Swiss watch company, was top bidder  in the Guernsey Auctioneers’ Dec. 15 sale, “John F. Kennedy: The Robert L. White Collection,” held in  New York City.

“Watches are emotional purchases, and we were very determined to procure this one,” said Stephen Urquhart, president of Omega worldwide. “It’s important to Omega, due to its history, and will reside in the Omega Museum [in Switzerland] next to the first watch [also an Omega]worn on the Moon – which is something Kennedy himself made possible.”

The 1960 watch was a gift to then-Senator Kennedy from a friend, Grant Stockdale. Though he gave it to JCK before the election, Stockdale had the back of the watch engraved with, “President of the United States John F. Kennedy from his friend Grant.”

Also available at the auction were a thank-you letter written by Jacqueline Kennedy to Stockdale, in which she calls the Omega “nicer than the watch I gave him,” plus an image from LIFE Magazine of the 35th President wearing the watch on his inauguration day.

After its stint in the Omega Museum, the watch will make a tour of the United States.

Omega is a brand of The Swatch Group, Ltd. based in Biel, Switzerland.

This was the second Kennedy-related timepiece to be auctioned recently. In October, a Rolex watch which actress Marilyn Monroe gave to President Kennedy was auctioned for $120,000 to an unidentified American collector.