Friday, October 10, 2008

Ultra-Rare Rolex U.S. Marine Prototype from 1982...

Questionable Authenticity

Alert: This article was originally published on Jake's Rolex world on October 10, 2008. Soon after publishing this article multiple highly knowledgeable Rolex collectors communicated to me that the watches were fake, and that the cases were made in Asia by a factory that specialized in making fantasy/homage watches.

While the watches are interesting, there are many things about them that are incorrect. For instance, it is highly unlikely that Rolex would EVER make a model with a U.S. special military designation on it. 

Secondly, the dials embarrassingly read "U.S. Marine", which is singular. The U.S. Marines a.k.a., The Marine Corps, NEVER have used this spelling, but always use the plural of U.S. Marines. The U.S. Marines would likely never commission a company like Rolex to make expensive customized watches for soldiers. 

Also, it has been put forth that the reason these models have the larger solid end links was protect a soldiers wrist from getting shot, which is ludicrous. Why? First of all the likelihood of a soldier getting shot in the wrist is very low, and secondly, there would not be enough steel to deflect a bullet.

Rolex has denied having ever made these watches, and certainly they were never produced by Rolex.

On Jake's Rolex World, I specialize in Mythbusting, and I have concluded these watches are not real Rolex watches. I have seen much more evidence that proves these watches are not real, but I am not going to waste precious time publishing nonsense. As far as I am concerned, this CASE IS CLOSED (Pun Intended ;-)

U.S. Marines Prototype Rolex

This is one of the most unusual Rolex prototypes I have ever seen. This watch is NOT a Submariner it is an Oyster Perpetual Date, U.S. Marine, Superlative Chonometer that is Officially Certified. Apparently Rolex only made two prototypes which you can see here.

This watch never went into production. It features a jumbo body with a 12-hour graduated revolving stainless steel bezel. In the photo above the bezel looks black but it is steel. This watch has a Triplock winding-crown in the 4 o'clock position which is protected by a massive crown-guard. It features a domed crystal with elongated lugs with detachable hoods. This watch is 44mm in circumference and 58mm from lug-end to lug end.

The two photos above were taken by Hannes who is a co-owner of the German forum and the photo below was from an Antiquorum Auction and the dials are completely different. Also the one on top has a cyclops lens and the one below does not. The one above has red number on the bezel and the one below has black. The one below has a riveted Oyster bracelet and the one below does not.

The Antiquorum describes the watch below: 

"This is the first watch known to be sold at auction, with dial marked "U.S.Marine". The case of this watch is perfectly engineered for heavy military use. Its large size ensures that the wrist will be completely covered, thereby preventing the injuries sometimes caused by violent impacts to smaller watches, the winding crown positioned at 4 o’clock, with its sloping crown guard, affords better protection than the standard configuration of crown and guard at 3. The rounded hoods covering the lugs reduce the possibility of the watch’s becoming caught in equipment and also act as locks for the bezel. The steel rotating 12-hour bezel effectively gives an hour and minute recorder which is invaluable in military excercises. Overall, this watch was designed for only one purpose, to tell time in some of the harshest environments and under the most extreme conditions, the types of activity that are synonymous with the U.S. Marine Corps. According to unofficial information from Rolex, two similar prototypes by Tudor were offered to the U.S. Navy. One of these Tudor prototypes was sold by Antiquorum NY in May 1998, lot 36. The present watch will be illustrated in the upcoming book on Rolex, soon to be published by Guido Mondani."

The watch below pictured below was successfully auction by Antiquorum on April 24, 2004 for 124,500 Swiss Francs which today equals $103,000 U.S.

These U.S. Military Rolex Prototypes are very unusual and interesting looking watches.


Alexandre said...

might be a little shinny for a US Marine :) but beautiful piece none the less...

Cam said...

These are fakes made up from whole cloth in Vietnam by a Hong Kong based watch restorer. It was done as a custom fantasy piece at the request of a Japanese collector. At one time you could see a photo of it and a description of this on his website.

All that being said, it is a real work of art, but has nothing to do with Rolex. Ken Sato of RockX watch company in Tokyo did an interesting take on this now famous fake, his being actually a much more attractive watch.