Top Watches From Top Criminals
Watch & Bullion21 September 2017 | 4 min read
1. Jiro Yanagawa
While not particularly famous in the western hemisphere, in Japan Jiro Yanagawa is universally known as one of the most notorious Yakuza bosses, so much so that his life was subject to a movie in 2002. Yanagawa was born in Korea, but moved to Japan at a very early age. Being of a very poor background, he resorted to joining a gang in Osaka in order to make money.
After having learned the tricks of the trade he created his own gang, known as the Yanagawa-Gumi. He managed to grow his gang to become one of the biggest in Japan, several thousand men strong, and the cause of a lot of headache for the authorities. His career as a Yakuza came to an end after ever increasing pressure from the local police as well as a string of brutal wars with rival gangs. In the later stages of his life he worked as a goodwill ambassador to his birth nation and his home; Korea and Japan. Additionally, he helped grow the now flowering Japanese boxing scene by functioning as a founding commissioner for the International Boxing Federation in Japan.
Yanagawa was gifted a Patek Nautilus which was later auctioned off at Antiquorum. The reference is a 3800/108, known as one of the most expensive Nautilus ever created, being made out of solid gold and completely encrusted in diamonds with 3 rubies to indicated 12, 6, and 9. Further, his personal piece has a dedicated engraving on the backside. Without a doubt, one of the more divisive releases of the Genevan powerhouse, yet unquestionably a perfect fit for one of the largest Yakuza to have ever lived.
2. Lucky Luciano
For our younger readers, this name may be a stranger, but Lucky Luciano is a man you should read about the next time you have a few minutes to spare. The short version is this, he was the first head of the modern Genovese crime family. He was born in Sicily but was part of a new generation of American-Italians who immigrated to the United States at a young age and only started their criminal career there, adding a spice of American Capitalism to the gang business of Prostitution and Bootlegging.
While Capone was the most famous mobster in American history, Luciano was without a doubt the most powerful. Recognised as Criminal Mastermind, the times ranked him among the 100 most influential people of the 20th Century, credited with the reinvention of the mafia.
Luciano was known for his style and taste. He was one of the most colourful figures of his time, being friends with the likes of Frank Sinatra, always dressing impeccably, and always sporting a different watch, preferably a Patek Phillippe. One of the watches most accredited to him is a Patek 1516 which he gifted to fellow mobster Joseph Bonnano in 1957, who himself later on became the inspiration for Michael Corleone, the protagonist of the Godfather series.
3. Pablo Escobar
The name Pablo Escobar needs no introduction. Both through a savvy business mind industrializing the cocaine trade and a ruthless management style he managed to accumulate a wealth of the modern equivalent of 55 billion USD in the early 1990s. It was estimated that the Medellin cartel controlled 80% of the worldwide cocaine market at its peak, amassing so much cash that had an annual 10% loss of their cash reserves due to rats eating up the paper.
While his business mind was no doubt impressive, it cast a very dark shadow as recently was recalled into memory by the excellent show Narcos on Netflix, highlighting Escobar’s rise to power and eventual decline. Escobar is said to be linked to the murder of around 5,000 individuals, mostly from law enforcement or rival gangs, but also from the countless girlfriends he impregnated.
His personal timepiece of choice was as most of his belongings a token of wealth and power, a yellow-gold Rolex Day-Date completely encrusted with diamonds. It was sold as part of a Government auction titled Narcos goods selling seized goods from cartels. Despite an estimate of 70,000$ the watch only managed to gather 8,500$ with the buyer wishing to remain anonymous, though pronouncing he would probably smelt the watch and use the diamonds and gold for jewellery in light of the past of the watch.
Want to read more about Pablo Escobar’s luxury lifestyle? You may find this article interesting!