November 22, 2007
HOMAGE TO BIENNE ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL
THE FIRST LADY, THREE MEN, ONE WATCH
In 1960, Grant Stockdale, a then former member of the Florida State House of Representatives presented his friend of eleven years, a friend whom he helped to win the nomination of the Democartic Party to run for the office of President of The United States, John F. Kennedy, an Omega ‘Ultra Thin’ wristwatch in 18 carat gold. At that time, John F Kennedy was not yet President of the United States. However is a premonition of extraordinary proportions, this businessman and former veteran of the Pacific campaign chose to have his gift personalised with the following inscription –
“President of the United States John F. Kennedy from his friend Grant”
In a letter addressed to Grant that same year, Jacqueline Kennedy expressed her deepest thanks for this ‘thinnest most elegant wristwatch’ mentioning how thrilled JFK was about it and how ‘promptly he took off the chunky little one’ she had once given him.
On 9 November 1960, John F. Kennedy at 43 years of age became the youngest man ever elected to the office of President of the United States of America. At his Inauguration Ceremony, he wore the Omega his friend had given him and a photograph was published in LIFE magazine which prominently showed this watch on the wrist of President John F Kennedy.
The President continued to wear the watch and whenever he would see Stockdale he would make a point of showing him that he was wearing the watch, which he nicknamed ‘the Stockdale watch’.
To this day, John F. Kennedy continues to have countless admirers around the world, for whom the 35th President of the United States of America will always be remembered as a charismatic and special person and leader of the free world .The events of November 22, 1963 horrified the world along with the rest of the country. A Florida-based collector specializing in rare documents and historically significant items and personal artifacts by the name of Robert L White decided to dedicate his life to the assembly of a unique and all-encompassing tribute to the personal and political history of the former president. Encouraged by his father and a television episode of “ Lassie ” on collecting autographs, Robert White already fascinated with history and autographs, decided to write to Evelyn Lincoln, John F. Kennedy’s Personal Secretary requesting a signature from the President. Several weeks later, a letter arrived from the White House which contained a facsimile signature of John F. Kennedy. Even though Robert knew it was not an original signature, this cherished first item formed the seed for what was to become the largest, most comprehensive and finest privately-owned John F. Kennedy collection of artifacts and documents in the world -
The Robert L. White Private Kennedy Collection, the provenance and authenticity of which, fuelled by a true appreciation of the role of John F Kennedy in history would be most impeccable. It was to become the cornerstone and focus of the Florida International Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. Following the passing of Robert White in 2003, the White family determined that it was appropriate to offer Robert’s personal Kennedy Collection to the public.
Hence in December 2005, at an auction held by Guernsey’s in New York, the unrivalled Robert L White Collection, known to collectors all around the world and which touched on virtually every aspect of John F. Kennedy’s life went on sale. It included items from his childhood to his marriage to Jacqueline and from his early political aspirations to his mounting successes first as a Congressman, then Senator and finally, President of the United States. On December 16 2005, OMEGA announced that it had the wristwatch that once belonged to the former American President. This unique and historic timepiece was bought for 350,000 USD, the highest bid of the auction’s first day.
This historic wristwatch was be exhibited in Omega Flagship Boutiques around the world, before eventually taking pride of place in the Omega Museum in Switzerland.
One of the items at the famous auction was a letter from John F Kennedy to Grant Stockdale, Lot 965 in which President Kennedy referred to this watch saying that "I am wearing the Stockdale watch again."
The words of one of America’s greatest presidents and one who loved his Omega.