His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama turned 80 on July 6 of 2015, a milestone when even holy people often take stock and begin to discard some of life’s excess. The Dalai Lama hasn’t much excess to shed, of course, but he quietly shares an obsession with some of the most materialistic people on earth — the Dalai Lama, it turns out, loves Rolex watches. Indeed the Dalai Lama is said to have at least 15 Rolex watches in his collection. It’s a strange fact to consider for a number of reasons: Tibetan Buddhism is generally at odds with earthly materialism; Tibetan Buddhism’s unique perspective on time hardly matches the minutes on a Swiss-made watch; and last, even if you love Rolex — 15 of them? Really? And this is a man who says he’s a Marxist!
As he enters his 9th decade, will the Dalai Lama begin to sell off his Rolex collection? Consider the good in the world that the sale value of the Dalai Lama’s Rolex collection could do. The rock star Eric Clapton’s Rolex just sold for a record $1.4 million at auction — and the provenance and pedigree of a Clapton Rolex hardly matches that of the Dalai Lama’s collection. (The Dalai Lama received his first Rolex as a gift from American president Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1942, when he was just seven.) WP Diamonds, the global specialist in helping people price and sell recycled luxury timepieces, reports that “Rolex watches command one of the best resale values around.” If the Dalai Lama were to sell his collection — and let’s presume each Rolex has a value roughly twice that of Clapton’s watch — the Dalai Lama could raise nearly $30 million for charity. That estimate is probably low. Will the Dalai Lama finally sell his Rolex collection?