Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s Iconic Cartier Watch Goes to Auction

Her signature timepiece is being offered at Christie's in June

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, wife of Greek ship-owner Aristotle Onassis and widow of U.S. president John F. Kennedy, with her iconic Cartier Tank timepiece.
Photo: David Cairns/Express/Getty Images; Courtesy of Christie's
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, pictured wearing her iconic Cartier Tank timepiece in 1969. Photo: David Cairns/Express/Getty Images

Renowned for her timeless style, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was undoubtedly one of the most influential fashion icons of the 20th century. Over five decades, she sparked trends that she’ll forever be known for: pillbox hats, tailored Chanel suits, oversized sunglasses, headscarves, and even a Gucci handbag named after her. Perhaps not as noticeable but nevertheless always present (usually under one of her stylish coats) was her Cartier Tank watch, being offered at Christie’s Rare Watches and American Icons New York sale on June 21.

The manual timepiece, with its signature 18K-gold square design and original black lizard strap, was a present from her brother-in-law Prince Stanislaw “Stas” Radziwill in 1963. The personal engraving “Stas to Jackie 23 Feb. 63 2:05 am to 9:35 pm” refers to the famous 50-mile-hike challenge made by President John F. Kennedy that year.

The Cartier Tank features a beautiful sapphire-set cabochon crown, and the original lizard strap worn by Onassis. Photo: Courtesy of Christie's

The arduous walk was part of an effort by President Kennedy to encourage national physical fitness, and the 50-mile distance was a nod to former President Theodore Roosevelt’s fitness requirement for military officers (to maintain their commission, officers needed to be able to walk 50 miles within 20 hours).

The personal engraving from her brother-in-law Prince Stanislaw “Stas” Radziwill. Photo: Courtesy of Christie's

In addition to the Cartier Tank, the lot (with an estimate of $60,000–$120,000) includes an artwork the former First Lady painted as a gift for Prince Radziwill. The charming piece depicts him walking alongside political adviser and close Kennedy friend Charles “Chuck” Spalding.

The lot includes a small painting by Onassis. Photo: Courtesy of Christie's

The live auction will be held on Tuesday, June 21, 2017 at 10 AM and 2 PM. christies.com