It is said that a prophet is without honor in his own country, and while you can’t say that novelist Ralph Ellison is exactly without honor, he’s not quite the household name that other Swiss made replica watches-adjacent celebrities are – say, Paul Newman, to pick the obvious example. Ellison, born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1913, passed away at the age of 81 in New York in 1994 and had to his credit, exactly one published novel during his lifetime.
Invisible Man is one of the 20th century’s most revered works of American fiction. It invites analysis but defies synopsis. Influenced by everything from jazz, to The Waste Land, to Hemingway and everything in between, it’s a first-person tale from a nameless narrator – the Invisible Man of the title. It’s a book that talks about the Black experience in America of being “invisible” to society at large – as if the Black experience takes place in a parallel universe that only overlaps American society in acts of violence, oppression, and exclusion. Ellison, however, was also after a broader existential question – the degree to which social asymmetries of power call into question identity and existence themselves.
Ellison never published another novel except for Juneteenth, which was produced posthumously from a mass of notes and drafts Ellison left behind but never organized into a novel. However, Invisible Man was enough to cement his reputation, and then some, and it’s been studied, analyzed, discussed, and admired by readers – as well as inspiring and daunting aspiring novelists – ever since it came out in 1952.
Ellison was a man of diverse interests, including music (he got into Tuskegee Institute on the strength of his having picked up the trumpet; the school needed a trumpet player in its orchestra) photography (he was a Hasselblad owner), and high-fidelity stereo equipment, which he built and tweaked as a hobby. Whether all that fed or distracted his muse is a question for a literary critic (or maybe a psychoanalyst) but it turns out that he was also the owner of a rather unlikely watch: 1:1 CA fake Omega Speedmaster Professional watches, ref. 145.012-67 SP, which he acquired in 1968, the year it was made, and which is being offered by Phillips at auction this December.
I use the word “acquired” advisedly because, although the provenance of the AAA top copy watches is rock solid, it’s not entirely clear whether Ellison bought it himself, or got it as a gift. He was what they used to call a sharp dresser – elegant suits were his forté and the high quality Omega Speedmaster replica watches at the time, was definitely not the kind of watch anyone with a sense of style would pair with a suit. Gianni Agnelli’s famous mashups of high and low – tailored suits with hiking boots, for example – would come later. You’d have expected someone with Ellison’s tastes to go for something thin, gold, and probably not complicated, but not so – in fact he wore the Omega Speedmaster fake watches for sale for the rest of his life, as innumerable photos attest.
The Ellison Speedmaster found its way to Phillips in a roundabout fashion. The consignor, Ted Walbye of Los Angeles, told the whole tale to Gary Shteyngart for the Wall Street Journal but the gist of it is that the best wholesale replica watches was originally sold, after Ellison’s death, at a Long Island estate sale that included some of Ellison’s property, along with his wife Fanny’s, for less than $6,000. One clue that it was indeed Ellison’s was the fact that the upper pusher of the chronograph was missing. In many pictures of Ellison wearing the watch, you can see that the upper pusher is gone – in fact, by at least as early as 1973, as a picture of Ellison wearing the super clone watches store site from that year shows it’s already popped off.
It’s an odd footnote to the story because in other respects Ellison was a fastidious perfectionist. It’s sometimes said that Juneteenth is one of the most egregious examples of literary procrastination in history, but I think it’s more likely an excellent example of the perfect being the enemy of the good. In any case, if Ellison owning and wearing a large, technical steel chronograph is weird, him owning one that can’t even be used as a chronograph is even weirder.
The final piece of the puzzle, however, was the discovery by Walbye, with the help of watch journalist Michael Clerizo, of insurance papers in the Ralph Ellison archives in the Library of Congress, listing the replica watches for men by serial number. Walbye has left the watch in original condition except for a service to the movement – which, when I saw it with Gary at Phillips, was in immaculate condition – and a new, period-correct upper pusher. The crystal and gaskets have been replaced as well, but the original crystal will be included in the sale.
Now, here’s the kicker. This is fake watches with Swiss movements owned by one of the most important half dozen or so 20th-century American writers, but the estimate is just $10,000-20,000. When Gary and I saw the watch together at Phillips, his excitement at actually seeing and holding best quality replica watches owned by one of the greatest literary lions of American letters in the past hundred years filled the room. You’d think the Ellison name would command a much higher estimate, but at least for now, it looks like there’s a chance that cheap China replica Omega Speedmaster watches with the most important literary provenance I can ever recall for a timepiece at auction might go for a song.
The 2021 Canada replica watches will be lot 138 as part of the 2021 Phillips New York Watch Auction, held over December 11th and 12th – the Ellison Speedmaster will go under the hammer on the 12th. If nothing else, the sale ought to make the author of Invisible Man much more visible to the watch collecting community.