Michael Crichton was the pop-culture king of the 1990s. The adaptation of his novel Jurassic Park took over the big screens, E.R. dominated the small screen, and thrillers such as Rising Sun and Airframe cemented Crichton as one of America’s leading novelists. And in the middle of the decade, Crichton celebrated his success with a watch, a luxury fake Breitling Montbrillant chronograph with a “vintage” movement.
We ran a similar story a few years back when Cole helped uncover Michael Crichton’s personal Omega Flightmaster, so it’s no surprise that Crichton turned out to be a bit of a watch nut. It’s pretty evident when you look at any picture taken of the author during the 1990s and early 2000s. Scroll through Getty or Google Images and it’s easy to spot the profile of many an iconic chronograph, including an AAA copy Omega Speedmaster and a TAG Heuer Monaco. And this Montbrillant is pretty unique on its own, Crichton pedigree aside.
Most recently in the possession of the New York-based collector Robert Velasquez, the chronograph (ref. H2308712B) is authenticated by a letter addressed to Crichton from the original jeweler, a Telluride, CO-based outfit called Lizard Head Mining Company. The typed letter asserts that the movements inside were created by best 1:1 replica Breitling in the 1930s and ’40s, and that the case and dial of the watch are based on archival Breitling chronograph designs.
The truth is actually a bit different. The movements used inside this small production of high end fake watches are in actuality the Eberhard caliber 310-82 from the 1960s, rather than the as-described NOS 1930s Breitling movements. The overall aesthetic also appears to be more “inspired” by early chronograph wristwatch design rather than a direct recreation of any specific vintage AAA fake Breitling reference.
Interestingly, perhaps sensing something was amiss with the stated description, the letterhead that accompanies the watch indicates Crichton may not have held on to the watch for very long. One week after he purchased the UK Swiss made fake Breitling, in December 1995, the Montbrillant appears to have been shipped from Crichton to Sol Meller, of Feldmar Watch Co., in Los Angeles, with a written note indicating a trade of some kind for store credit.
Thirty years later, the Swiss movement replica Breitling is on the move once again.
It was recently purchased by an anonymous Hawaiian collector with a special connection to Crichton. When this collector was a young boy, a few Jurassic Park scenes were actually filmed on his family’s property and he has fond memories of following Crichton around on the film’s set.