Sunday, August 7, 2016

T. Walker Lloyd Interview

Special Note from Jake

I just learned that T. Walker Lloyd recently passed away, so I thought it would be fitting to republish this amazing story of his life achievement, which I originally published eight years ago—back in 2008. In 2008 I spent many hours interviewing T. Walker Lloyd, and we became instant pals. We both shared a profound love for the Rolex brand and Rolex history. To date I have only published approximately 3 hours of the interviews, and perhaps in the future, I will find time to publish more from my interview archive.

One of the things that makes the published podcast interview so profound is that Rolex has an unbroken code of silence when it comes to their executives. In other words, no Rolex executive, other than the CEO has ever been interviewed. Of course, when I conducted these interviews, T. Walker Lloyd had been retired from Rolex for many years. That being said, it is deeply profound just how much I learned about Rolex history from T. Walker Lloyd. I will miss "T", as his friends called him, and wish him Godspeed.

As I reflect back on this story, I realize that T. Walker Lloyd's insight and contribution offered tremendous insight into Rolex's conquest of the DEEP-SEA, and especially his contribution to the development of the Rolex SEA-DWELLER. In the future I plan to add this story as a chapter to my 18 part series titled "The Complete History Of The Rolex Submariner & SEA-DWELLER: Rolex's Conquest Of The Ocean."

The Right Stuff

The Complete History Of The Rolex SEA-DWELLER

Rolex X-Files

...Rolex DEEPSEA Coolness...

T. Walker Lloyd 
The Podcast Interviews
A Quarter-Century With Rolex

T. Walker Lloyd was a dynamic Rolex executive for close to a quarter century. I recently completed a 3-part podcast interview series with T. Walker Lloyd that is amazing!!! T. Walker started his quarter-century career with Rolex as an oceanographic consultant and three years later became a full-time Rolex executive in New York with Rolex U.S.A.

T. Walker Lloyd's U.S. Marines Photo

T. Walker Lloyd was originally hired by Rene-Paul Jeanneret in Geneva and began working with Rolex in 1965 and retired from Rolex in 1990. During T. Walker Lloyd's executive career he saw Rolex, under the dynamic leadership of André Heiniger, grow from a successful Swiss company to the ultra-successful behemoth it is today.

Today, I released Podcast interview 3 of 3 with T. Walker Lloyd.

In Part 1 you get an overview of the early years of his career where he worked with the U.S. Navy SEALAB program on the development of the Rolex SEA-DWELLER.

You will also learn about how he went on to become a Rolex executive and the goto guy for working with celebrities, actors, athletes and astronauts.

In Part 2 you learn about how the Rolex Day-Date got its name of "The Rolex President" and you also learn about the back story of the NASA Rolex Moon Watches as well as how T. Walker Lloyd provided watches to man movie and TV stars including Tom Selleck for Magnum P.I.

In Part 3, T. Walker shares more fascinating stories about sports figures, supermodels, celebrities, and President Lyndon Johnson.

I believe this is the first time in history anyone has completed a recorded interview with a Rolex executive and this is very exciting. T. Walker is a sportsman and gentleman of amazing achievement and has a fascinating and magnetic personality. His insight into what makes Rolex tick, literally and figuratively is uncanny. I learned so much about Rolex' amazing history from T. Walker, that my head is still spinning!!!

T. Walker Lloyd Podcast Series

To listen to this podcast in your browser click on the play button below. (If you are using Internet Explorer you may need to click the play button twice):


Podcast Part 1 of 3. Running Time 54:20 [Added December 9, 2008]

Podcast Part 2 of 3. Running Time 55:12 [Added December 16, 2008]

Podcast Part 3 of 3. Running Time 54:40 [Added December 21, 2008]

If you want to subscribe or listen to the podcast in iTunes please click the icon below. With this option you can listen to the podcast for free in iTunes or you can download it for free to listen to on your iPod or iPhone:

Jake Ehrlich - Jake's Rolex Watch Blog - Jake's Rolex Watch Blog

T. Walker was not only a Rolex executive, but a highly accomplished Deep-Sea-Diver and oceanographic expert. T. Walker Lloyd appeared in the following Rolex advertisement below and also worked with Peter Benchley on the major motion picture, Jaws.

Part 1 of 9

The following images and show notes go with Part 1, and Part 2 show notes and images are directly under Part 1.

T. Walker Lloyd Rolex Advertisement from 1974

Until I published the story of Scott Carpenter and SEALAB, it was commonly believed that Rolex developed the SEA-DWELLER for the French diving company, Comex.

This is partially true, but Rolex being represented by T. Walker Lloyd, worked with SEALAB's Bob Barth & Scott Carpenter on the development of the Gas or Helium Release Valve that was added to the Rolex SEA-DWELLER, thus, as leading Rolex history expert, James Dowling recently pointed out, "The SEA-DWELLER owes more of its genesis to SEALAB than COMEX."

COMEX & Rolex

In Part 1 of the podcast series I speak with T. Walker Lloyd about the development of the Rolex SEA-DWELLER and we discuss COMEX's role. Here is a Comex ad from that timeframe.

Scott Carpenter & NASA

Months ago I did an extremely detailed article about Astronaut & Aquanaut Scott Carpenter that included a podcast interview. In that interview I learned about Scott Carpenter's involvement with SEALAB on the development of the Rolex SEA-DWELLER.

This is what led me to the director of SEALAB, Bob Barth, who led me to T. Walker Lloyd.

To best understand Scott Carpenter's involvement in the development of the Rolex SEA-DWELLER we have to go back to the NASA Mercury program. The photo below is of The Original 7 Mercury astronauts. Scott Carpenter is pictured in the bottom right hand corner of the photo.

Scott Carpenter is pictured below at the Cape during the Mercury program in the early 1960s

Scott Carpenter is pictured below with his fellow Mercury astronaut John Glenn. John Glenn was the first American astronaut to leave Earth's atmosphere and he orbited around the earth three times before he landed. In later episodes of the T. Walker podcast interview we will learn about how John Glenn not only wore a Rolex but also about his involvement as a conduit between NASA and Rolex.

From NASA Astronaut to U.S. NAVY Aquanaut

Scott Carpenter was the second American to leave Earth's orbit and he also orbited around the globe three times. Scott began his career as a U.S. Navy test pilot and was featured in Tome Wolfe's book, The Right Stuff.

Carpenter then he went on to become a part of the U.S. Navy's SEALAB program. In the photo below you can see Scott Carpenter wearing his Rolex Submariner on a leather strap.

Jacques Cousteau

Scott Carpenter learned about the NAVY SEALAB program from his pal, Jacques Cousteau. Scott Carpenter was so inspired by what Jacques Cousteau was doing that he asked the U.S. Navy if he could work with Jacques Coustea. Jacques Cousteau was really the first SEA-DWELLER with his Conshelf program that he developed with the French Navy in the early 1960s.

Jacques Cousteau with Scott Carpenter

SEALAB was really the U.S. Navy's version of the French Conshelf. The SEALAB habitat is pictured below hovering in dry-dock.

Scott Carpenter was the head of the dive team for SEALAB and is pictured below.

The First Rolex SEA-DWELLER

As T. Walker Lloyd mentioned in his podcast interview, the SEALAB saturation divers were experiencing a challenge with their crystals exploding off their Rolex Submariner watches when they would come-up during decompression. So Bob Barth, the director of SEALAB worked with Rolex on the development of the helium gas escape valve with T. Walker Lloyd.

T. Walker Lloyd came up with the idea that even though the gas escape valve on the SEA-DWELLER was only for emitting helium that it should not be named "The Helium Escape Valve." He argued it should be named "The Gas Escape Valve" because he said that in the future saturation divers might likely use other gases. To this day, Rolex calls it the "The Gas Escape Valve," which is displayed prominently on the new DEEP-SEA SEA-DWELLER inner ring.

Scott Carpenter is pictured below while living under the ocean on SEALAB 2 for 28 days, which set a record for living in an underwater habitat. Notice the Rolex Submariner on his wrist.

The next four recent photos were taken exclusively for Jake's Rolex Watch Blog and feature one of Scott Carpenter's early "Patent Pending" Rolex SEA-DWELLERS which he still owns.

Notice the Patent Pending designation on the caseback.

The Kojak President

In T. Walker Lloyd's part 1 podcast interview, he tells a story about the Rolex "Hands" advertising campaign he worked on, where he worked with Telly Savalas, who played "Kojak" on TV. Here is the Rolex magazine advertisement from the Telly Savalas "Hands" campaign.

Robert Redford in The Candidate

T. Walker mentioned Robert Redford wearing a Rolex in The Candidate and The Electric Horseman.

Charlton Heston & Son

T. Walker told the story about Charlton Heston and his son who are pictured below. According to T. Walker, Charlton Heston appeared in a Rolex advertisement for Rolex that I have never seen. Charlton's son is pictured with him in this photo and he is wearing a two-tone Rolex Datejust.

Sean Connery in Thunderball

T. Walker mentioned he was on the set of Thunderball and that Rolex provided the Rolex Submariner for Sean Connery to wear. I think T. Walker misunderstood my question when I asked him what James Bond movie came first and he answered "Thunderball." I think he meant that Thunderball was the first James Bond movie that he was on the set of as a Rolex representative. Of course, Dr. No was the first James Bond movie and Sean Connery wore his now famous Rolex Submariner. The photo below is of Sean Connery from Thunderball.

Clint Eastwood

T. Walker Lloyd mentioned he gave Clint Eastwood his Rolex Root Beer GMT Master which you can see Clint wearing below.

James Brolin

T. Walker Lloyd mentioned that actor James Brolin introduced him to Clint Eastwood. James Brolin is pictured below with his wife, Barbra Streisand, and James is wearing a yellow Gold Rolex Daytona.

T. Walker Lloyd Interview
A Quarter-Century With Rolex
[Part 2 of 2]

I Spy

Bill Cosby and Robert Culp are pictured below wearing their Rolex GMT watches that T. Walker Lloyd gave them to wear on their TV show named I Spy.

Burt Reynolds & Clint Eastwood

T. Walker Lloyd mentioned giving Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood Rolex watches.

Paul Newman

Paul Newman Wearing His Trademark Rolex Daytona.

Steve McQueen

Farrah Fawcett Majors

T. Walker mentioned hanging out with Farrah. Farrah was by far and away the most successful TV star and model in the mid 1970s. The 1976 "Farrah Fawcett" Poster seen below is considered to be the best selling poster in history, having sold more than 6 Million copies, and yes I had one in 1976 :-)

Philippe Cousteau & Jacques Cousteau

T. Walker Lloyd was very close friends with Philippe Coustea who unfortunately crashed his seaplane and died.

The Rolex Moon Watches

Another one of the profound insights we gain from the T. Walker Lloyd podcast interview is how so many of the NASA Apollo Astronauts ended up wearing Rolex watches to the Moon. If you listen to the podcast T. Walker shares much of the back-story.

The following 3 photos are of NASA Apollo astronaut Jack Swigert who flew on Apollo 13 to the Moon. The photo below was taken at the pre-launch, steak and eggs breakfast and Swigert is wearing his Rolex GMT Pepsi.

When Jack Swigert got back to earth he gave his stainless Rolex GMT to the number two man at Rolex, Rene-Paul Jeanneret.

In Return for Jack Swigert's Pepsi GMT that flew to the Moon, Rolex gave Jack a yellow gold Rootbeer GMT on a Jubilee bracelet as seen below.

Rolex on Apollo 14

All 3 NASA Apollo 14 Moon Mission astronauts wore Rolex GMT Pepsi watches. In the first two photos below you can see Alan Shepard sporting his GMT on a black strap. Alan Shepard was also one of the Original 7 Mercury Mission NASA Astronauts and he was the first American Astronaut to leave the Earth's atmosphere in a rocket.

In the next image we see Apollo 14 Mission team member Dr. Edgar Mitchell preparing his two Rolex GMT Master's just before he prepares to board the Saturn Rocket to go to the Moon. Dr. Edgar Mitchell confirmed that he wore his Rolex GMT on the longest moonwalk in history.

In the photo below you see Dr. Edgar Mitchell on the left side in quarantine after he got back to Earth. He is clearly wearing his Rolex GMT Master. This directly confirms that he wore his Rolex GMT Pepsi to the moon and back.

Lloyd Bridges

T. Walker mentioned his friendship with the famous actor, Lloyd Bridges and he told the story about how he gave Lloyd Bridges the yellow gold Rolex Submariner pictured below.

T. Walker Lloyd with Peter Benchley

T. Walker Lloyd is pictured below with Peter Benchley, the creator of Jaws. T. Walker is pictured on the far right standing up and Peter Benchley is pictured in the front row on the right side. T. Walker and Peter Benchley remained close friends until Peter died.

This photo was taken several months before the major motion picture, Jaws became a blockbuster hit in 1975. In 1975 there was an TV program named American Sportsman that had an episode shot on the Great Barrier Reef and in South Australia that featured Benchley swimming with sharks. T. Walker Lloyd was Benchley's safety diver. 

The JAWS Submariner

I remember, when I was a child, the movie JAWS was a mega-hit. I mean Huge Hit!!!! People went crazy over Jaws, which was directed by the then young Steven Spielberg. 

JAWS was Steven Speilberg's first real movie hit which put him on the map, and it  was nominated for the Academy Awards in 1976 for Best Picture. JAWS was all the rage and remained in theaters for a few years!!! That made Peter Benchley, the author of JAWS a huge superstar.

The Rolex President

One of the most profound things we learn in the T. Walker Lloyd podcast interview is how the Rolex Day-Date got nick-named or dubbed The Rolex President. According to T. Walker Lloyd, President Lyndon Johnson named the watch The President's Watch, which turned into The President.

Tom Selleck

T. Walker Lloyd mentioned that he gave Tom Selleck his Rolex Watch he wore on the blockbuster TV hit Magnum P.I.


red said...

When can we expect part 4?

Jake Ehrlich said...

Hi Red,

Please see the update at the end of this story.