George Harrison’s Watch?

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George Harrison's watch?

Is this Beatle guitarist George Harrison’s watch? To make that assessment, know that John Lennon thought 15-year-old George Harrison was too young to join the Quarrymen. “After a month of Harrison’s persistence, during a second meeting, he performed the lead guitar part of the instrumental song Raunchy on the upper deck of a Liverpool bus,” wikipedia.org reveals, “and they enlisted him as their lead guitarist.” The year: 1958. Or was it? . . .

That is the question when considering whether or not this Elgin Lord Elgin Shockmaster belonged to Beatles lead guitarist/singer/songwriter George Harrison.

George Harrison's watch caseback

If Wikipedia is right – that Mr. Harrison’ decided to share Mr. Lennon’s and Mr. McCartney’s musical journey in 1958 – the Shockmaster’s caseback engraving tells us this timepiece is a fake. A gift to another George Harrison from “the boys” down at the factory?

In the watch’s favor, there is considerable debate about the date and circumstances of that fateful first meeting. beatlesbible.com:

George Harrison claimed the first time he saw the Quarrymen was at the Wilson Hall, opposite the bus depot in Garston, Liverpool. According to Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn, the date was most likely 6 February 1958.

George Harrison hair

However, accounts vary. Author Barry Miles noted the date as being the group’s booking at the hall on 7 December 1957. Conversely, Quarrymen drummer Colin Hanton recalled being introduced to the young guitarist on 13 March at the Morgue Skiffle Cellar. Harrison’s mother Louise, meanwhile, claimed they met in a local chip shop.

FWIW, britannica.com also goes with 1957. So let’s say a teenage Harrison had joined forces with Lennon and McCartney by Christmas 1957. Or was at least thinking about it. Would Lennon and McCartney have pooled their limited financial resources to buy Harrison a gold-filled Elgin Lord Elgin to help seal their partnership or bribe him into becoming a band mate?

The working class Lennon and McCartney were nothing if not well-mannered. And an engraved watch would certainly be a way to bond Harrison to the nascent group. And Lennon loved watches. So the idea that this is George Harrison’s gold-filled Elgin Lord Elgin Shockmaster is well within reason.

George Harrison's watch on ebay?

If so, I’m sure Mr. McCartney would remember. I’m also sure that it’s unlikely that anyone would go to the bother of faking a “George Harrison” Elgin Lord Elgin Shockmaster and sell it on eBay alongside a brace of beat-up vintage Elgin’s for $125 (and free shipping).

Hallar's art drawing

That’s how a screen-cap-challenged artist by the name of Larius Hallar says he came to own [what he claims to be] George Harrison’s watch. (Sample of Mr. Hallar’s work above.) After speaking with the 41-year-old Californian about his discovery, he doesn’t sound like a forger to me. Not that I know how a forger sounds . . .

George Harrison's watch and ciggie

Mr. Hallar says he shopped the three eBay watches to replace an Elgin that crapped-out on him. He saw the engraving on one of the eBay images and pulled the trigger.

Since discovering the watch, he’s faced plenty of doubters. In defense of his purchase’s provenance, he submits the above photo of Mr. Harrison wearing an Elgin. The Elgin? That’s the claim.

Elgin Lord Elgin Shockmaster

Just so you know, the Elgin Lord Elgin Shockmaster is a pretty cool timepiece. Some of the 14k gold versions are particularly spiffy, what with their curved case, sine wave dial decoration and flared shoulders.

I can’t find a model on eBay or Etsy that matches the timepiece claimed to be George Harrison’s. I did discover that you’d be hard pressed to spend more than $600 on a pristine vintage Shockmaster. And that its ancestor – the Elgin Shockmaster pocket watch – is available for $185 (mechanical condition unknown).

Obviously, the real money’s in the Lord Elgin Shockwave’s alleged early association with George Harrison and “the Boys,” not the watch itself. How much dosh would the Elgin Lord Elgin Shockmaster be worth if it is an engraved gift from John and Paul? Hundreds of thousands? A million? Who knows.

George Harrison's watch - or not

Mr. Hallar said he emailed Mr. Harrison’s son offering to return the watch to the family – and received no reply. He now plans to sell it, perhaps at auction. Without a proper photograph or testimony from Mr. Harrison’s survivors (especially Mr. McCartney), Mr. Hallar’s Harrison Elgin will have trouble finding a big auction house willing to represent it.

Larius Halllar wearing George Harrison's watch?

Provenance, price and future aside, am I the only one creeped out by the idea of wearing any dead celebrity’s watch? I get owning a famous watch and not wearing it. Strapping on an expired famous person’s watch strikes me as karmically risky, in a Christine kinda way. But then Mr. Hallar is an artist. And just maybe, a very, very lucky one.

5 COMMENTS

  1. I could not care less about watches owned by celebrities, but a key question in this story is whether during its decline, and about a decade from its death, Elgin even had distribution in the UK.

    For anyone that has never been to Elgin it is a very burnt out town in a state bankrupted by public sector unions and six figure pensions to government “workers.” But according to Wikipedia it produced half of the pocket watches manufactured in the US.

  2. I think you made the point on the Ghandi post. I get wanting to own a Rolex owned by Steve McQueen or Paul Newman, or going to the trouble of tracking down the Wakmann worn by Richard Dreyfuss in Jaws. I’ve got an Adventure Time wristwatch in my box because Ryan Reynolds wore one in Deadpool. But glasses are to Ghandi as a guitar is to George Harrison, so I’m at a loss as to why this would be an essential piece of memorabilia for a Beatles fan.

    • Because if it’s genuine, it represent the union of three (four?) members of what was the become one of the most influential music groups in history.

  3. I’m skeptical, mostly because the mentioned flared shoulders seem to appear on the watch in the Harrison photo but not on the actual item. The two names, George Harrison and “the boys” are likely common enough to be coincidence and the dispute over the date doesn’t help things.

    Honestly, the wording just seems so apt that it is an enticing bit of presumed coincidences. And it has more story to it than merely “owned by…” which is for the true idol worshipers. If you mean that the adoration aspect of thinking there is some (transferable) magical essence to a dead celeb’s object is the creepy part, I agree. I’m not superstitious enough to be otherwise concerned.

  4. Looks like the provenance might be tough to prove, unless maybe he can get Paul or Ringo to authenticate it.

    I know the dentist who bought John Lennon’s extracted decayed tooth! For $30k! True story.

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