Tuesday, July 31, 2012

John Goldberger 2013 Rolex Day-Date Cover



John Goldberger
2013 Rolex Day-Date Cover

John Goldberger is a world-renowned Rolex collector and expert. Every year he creates a themed Rolex calendar which he give out to his friends as a holiday gift, and here is the cover for his 2013 calendar, which covers the Day-Date. I perceive John's calendar covers as a true litmus test for how well you know Rolex history. If you can identify everybody and ever thing on the cover you are a true Rolex History expert.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Apollo 14 Rolex Story...



Apollo 14
Rolex Moon Watches
Pepsi Rolex GMT Master

In the story I wrote the day before yesterday we saw photos of Jack Swigert wearing his Rolex GMT along with a presentation piece that confirmed he wore a Rolex when he went to the moon aboard Apollo XIII. Last month we saw Michael Collins from Apollo 11 wearing a Rolex Turn-O-Graph.

I have heard for years that Omega was the official Moon watch. I am not so certain exactly what official means, and if Omega was the official Moon Watch then I think it would be safe to say that Rolex was the "Unofficial Moon Watch."

If we examine the photo below of the three NASA Astronauts that flew to the Moon on board Apollo 14, we see they are all wearing Omega Speedmaster's on the "Outside" of their space suits, not on their wrist. Essentially, they used the Omega Chronograph as a stopwatch.



Let's start by familiarizing ourselves with the crew of the Apollo 14 which was the third manned space mission to land on the Moon, touching down February 5, 1971. From left to right in the photo above are Stuart Roosa (Command Module Pilot), Alan Shepard (Commander) and Edgar Mitchell (Lunar Module Pilot).


Here is where it starts to get really interesting. If you examine Alan Shepard in the photo above, he appears to be wearing a Pepsi Rolex GMT Master on a NATO strap. In Photoshop I zoomed in really deep on his wrist and can see Red & blue on his bezel and the size and shape are consistent with a GMT. It is definitely too small to be an Omega Speedmaster.

In this next photo we see Alan Shepard (light blue shirt) and Ed Mitchell (cap) on a geology field trip, at Craters of the Moon, Idaho on August 22, 1969. Notice that Ed Mitchell is wearing his trademark Pepsi Rolex GMT on his left wrist.


In the image below, the watch really looks to me to be a GMT Master on a NATO strap.


The photo above is of Al Shepard (blue short-sleeve shirt) taken on November 9, 1970.



Next we switch over to Edgar Mitchell's Rolex GMT Master. One obvious question is why is Edgar Mitchell adjusting and winding two Rolex GMT's (as seen in the photo below) just before he boards Apollo 14 to go to the Moon? The answer comes from the photo above that was taken in July of 1970 when Edgar Mitchell (mustard yellow t-shirt) and Alan Shepard (purple shirt) were practicing in the simulator. Notice in the photo above that Edgar Mitchell is wearing what appears to be a Rolex GMT on each wrist.

Tip: Click on all images in this story to see much better detail

My best guess is that one GMT was for keeping time on earth at Cape Canaveral as well as Greenwich Mean Time and the other was for measuring some performance characteristic or local time on the Rocket Ship. Also, Edgar Mitchell was well aware of the challenges that Jack Swigert encountered in the previous Apollo XIII mission and knew that his Rolex GMT was a life saver. Maybe he wore two watches for redundancy?


According to NASA this photo (KSC-71P-88) of Ed Mitchell was taken on January 31, 1971 as Ed Mitchell suited up on launch date just before they took off for the Moon. The official NASA caption for this image reads "Ed Mitchell adjusts his watch. 31 January 1971."

It is crystal clear to anybody that the watch NASA officially refers to as Ed Mitchell's watch is a Rolex GMT, which in my mind means that NASA is officially confirming the Rolex to be a Moon Watch!!!!!!

I have not rested my case yet...



These images of the Apollo 14 during take-off toward the heavens are spectacular. Click on them to see all the glorious detail!!!



Alan Shepard on the Moon above.


This next NASA photo is of the NASA Apollo 14 Lunar Module parked on the Moon surface which delivered Dr. Edgar Mitchell and Alan Shepard to the moon surface and returned them to the Service Module.


Apollo 14
Lunar Module Moon Lift-Off
February 6, 1971 18:48:42 UT
Lunar Module Pilot: Dr. Edgar Mitchell
Rolex GMT-Master

The following three photos show Dr. Edgar Mitchell and Alan Shepard as they take-off from the Moon surface to return to the Apollo 14 Command/Service Module in the Grumman-made Lunar Lander module named "Antares." During their moonwalk, Dr. Edgar Mitchell set the all-time record for the longest moonwalk at 9 hours and 17 minutes.

In this first image, we see Alan Shepard putting on his oxygen mask and if you study his facial expression you see a bit of trepidation. After all, he has just experienced the most euphoric experience of his life and he is likely exhausted phyically and mentally–kind of like the way you feel after a full-day of great skiing or snowboarding. He likely realizes if the Lunar Lander does not take-off, they would be stranded on the moon and die.



In the next photo we see Dr. Edgar Mitchell as he prepares the 33,000 pound (15,264kg) Lunar Module (LM) for takeoff–since he was the Lunar Module pilot. We see Dr. Edgar Mitchell wearing his Pepsi GMT Master on his right wrist and we get a clear view of his Rolex Oyster bracelet. He is wearing an Omega Speedmaster Chronograph on a velcro NASA Spec Black Nylon Strap on his left wrist.

In the past, Dr. Edgar Mitchell recalled that he wore his Pepsi Rolex GMT Master on the moonwalk, but there has never been any photographic proof to confirm this fact–until today!!!!



This next photo shows Dr. Edgar Mitchell and Alan Shepard very enthusiastically shaking hands in a euphoric and jubilant moment of exultation as they succesfully take-off in the Lunar Module to return to the Service Module from the moon surface!!!!


Pictured below is Stu Roosa (left), Al Shepard (center) and Ed Mitchell (right) in the isolation van. Roosa is using a the microphone to talk to bystanders on February 9, 1971. Ed Mitchell is wearing his Rolex GMT on his right wrist in both the photo above and below.


Ed Mitchell is pictured below during a 15 day quarantine in the MSC Lunar Receiving Laboratory at the Lyndon Johnson Space Center in Houston Texas, holding a sample collection as he shows them to NASA management during a post-mission debrief with geologists on February 18, 1971. Ed is wearing his trademark Stainless Steel Pepsi Rolex GMT Master.


To Learn more about the Rolex Moon Watches please visit the "Rolex Achievement Page" and scroll down to "Rolex's Moon and Space Conquest."

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The First Rolex Moon Watch To Be Auctioned [Part 1 of 2]



Apollo 17
Rolex Moon Watch
Pepsi Rolex GMT Master


Heritage Auction Galleries Sold
The First Rolex Moon Watch Ever Auctioned
Sold For $131,450!!!
Auction Date: October 8, 2009

Heritage Auction Galleries in Dallas, Texas is internationally renowned for auctioning extremely rare collectibles and in their Space Auction today they sold the first Rolex Moon watch to ever be auctioned for $131,450.

This is perhaps the most historically significant Rolex on earth, or certainly one of them–a Rolex Moon Watch.

To see the watch lot on Heritage Auction Galleries please click here. To view the Space Auction catalog please click here.

A Rolex GMT Master Known To Have Landed On the Surface Of The Moon

One of the many things that sets this Rolex GMT Master apart is it was worn to the Moon and back and spent a great deal of time on the Moon surface. To be specific, the watch was Commander Ronald Evans personal Rolex GMT Master watch he placed in his Personal Preference Kit (PPK) and flew to the Moon with.

Once the Apollo team reached the moon, Commander Ronald Evans asked his crewmates Gene Cernan and Harrsion Schmitt to take his personal Rolex GMT Master aboard the Lunar Module Challenger down to the Moon surface while he orbited the moon in the Command Module America.

According to Heritage Auction Galleries, Commander Ronald Evans Rolex "remained on the moon for approximately seventy-five hours on what up to this day, was the last manned lunar landing mission."


Commander Ronald Evans Rolex Moon Watch With Original Box & Papers

This is an extremely profound story that ads another huge piece of the puzzle to the Rolex Moon Watch Mystery. Before we go in to the details of this mystery let's examine this historic Rolex Moon Watch.

It was worn by United States NASA Apollo Commander Ronald Evans on Apollo 17 which was the last manned Moon Mission. Commander Ronald "Ron" Evans is pictured below in his official NASA Apollo 17 portrait standing in front of a Moon Globe.

Ronald Ellwin Evans Jr., was born on November 10, 1933 and passed away on April 7, 1990. He achieved the Boy Scouts Of America's second highest rank of Life Scout. and recieved a Bachelor Of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Kansas in 1956. In 1964 he earned a Master Of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School.

Evans went on to become a U.S. Navy pilot flying an F-8 Crusader aircraft from the very USS Ticonderoga that would pick him up from splashdown in the Pacific after his successful Apollo 17 Moon Mission.

Commander Evans retired from the U.S. Navy as a Captain and was one of the only 24 people to ever fly to the Moon.


In the close-up Photo below we see NASA Apollo 17 Astronaut Commander Ronald Evans 1968 Pepsi Rolex GMT Master [Reference 1675, Caliber 1580, Serial Number 2448718] that spent time on the lunar surface.


This major piece of the Rolex Moon Watch history puzzle answers many question and at the same time brings to light more fascinating questions.

As we see evidenced in the photo below, when Commander Evans returned from the Moon he proudly hand-engraved the provenance on the back of this Pepsi Rolex GMT Master. He inscribed "FLOWN ON APOLLO XVII 6-19 DEC 72 ON MOON 11-17 DEC RON EVANS." Apparently Commander Evans hand engraved this without removing the Rolex Oyster bracelet.


Part of the provenance includes this letter from Jan Evans (Commander Evans wife) that documents the Rolex was worn to the moons lunar surface and that is has been in the family collection all these years.



The Rolex Moon Watch Mystery

We have just examined what is arguably one of the most historically significant Rolex watches on earth–and the moon for that matter. In order to truly understand the historical significance of this Pepsi GMT Master we must delve deeper into its context since context gives content its meaning.

One day, in the future, I will write The Complete History Of The Rolex Moon Watches, but today we will take a broad overview. One of the things I always do on Jake's Rolex Watch Blog is attempt to separate the fact from the fiction.

Over the years much speculation and conjecture have been put forth as fact and from the in-depth research I have completed, most of it is far, far from the truth. The Rolex Moon Watches have been highly subjected to these false myths. My object as a historian and scientist is to bring the truth to light.

Donald Kent "Deke" Slayton was chosen as one of the original Seven Mercury Astronauts but was the only one who did not fly since his "Delta 7" was grounded because he suffered from an erratic heart rate, known in technical terms as idiopathic atrial fibrillation. Scott Carpenter took Deke Slayton's place when he flew his Aurora 7.

In the photo above we see the Original 7 Mercury Astronauts at the White House receiving the Collier Trophy. The NASA caption reads "NASA Administrator James E. Webb (center) cites the space achievements of the Project Mercury Astronauts who recieved the 1963 Collier Trophy Award in a ceremony held at the White House on October 10, 1963. President John F. Kennedy (left) and Vice President Lyndon Johnson accompanied Webb at the ceremony. Five of the seven astronauts are visible in the row behind James Webb.. They are (starting from JFK's left): Alan Shepard, Donald "Deke" Slayton, John Glenn, Virgil "Gus" Grissom, and Scott Carpenter."


Deke Slayton retired from NASA and the Air Force in 1963 and was rehired by NASA in a civilian capacity as Director Of Flight Operations and in that capacity he chose the primary and backup crews for the Gemini and Apollo programs. This decision-making authority included who would be the first astronaut to step on the Moon surface.

From the research I have completed it appears Deke Slayton was also the person who decided to make Omega the official watch of NASA. I have heard conflicting accounts of how this process occurred and I don't know which account is true.

The best I can do is share both sides of the coin with you. There are many accounts about how Omega was chosen as the Official Moon Watch. These account suggest there was a test process, but I have seen zero evidence to corroborate this account.

If you have or know of specific NASA data or a report on this supposed watch testing procedure, please email it to me and I will publish it.

I have also heard that Deke Slayton or somebody at NASA held an invisible auction that approached the major watch manufactures to make them the Official NASA watch. Apparently Rolex was approached and ironically refused to participate in the auction!!!

Rolex argued they made the best watch and they refused to pay to be the official watch since the watch chosen should be based on the merit of the watch and they knew they had the best watch.

As the story goes, Omega shrewdly jumped in and bought the title in some kind of back room envelope-filled-with-hundred-dollar bills deal. (This was perhaps the first time Omega did this but not the last. Of course they tried to step in and replace Rolex as the James Bond watch).

I can't prove this because I was not there. I can only share my research findings with you. I will say I believe Rolex made a huge mistake that would probably be their greatest blunder in history by not becoming the official NASA space watch.

Once again, as I previously mentioned, in the future I will go into more detail on my historical findings on this subject in a detailed story.

Buck Rogers In The 20Th Century

The NASA space program with its goal to put a man on the Moon was extremely exciting stuff. As my Uncle Chris said "It was right out of Buck Rogers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

In the photo below we see NASA Gemini IV astronauts Edward H. White II (left) and James A McDivitt inside the Gmini IV spacecraft preparing for liftoff in early June of 1965.



On June 3, 1965 NASA Gemini IV Astronaut Edward H. White II became the first American to climb outside his spacecraft and set himself adrift in the zero gravity of space. White floated around for 23 minutes. Edward White was wearing an Omega Speedmaster chronograph around his wrist–outside his space suit on a velcro strap.


The Omega Speedmaster chronograph (which is a very cool watch by the way) was a manual-wind watch because it was falsely put forth that an automatic Rolex Perpetual self-winding, rotor-based watch would not function in the zero gravity environment of outer space. NASA astronaut Leroy Chaio busted that myth on Jake's Rolex Watch Blog.


Can you imagine how blown-away NASA Gemini IV Astronaut Edward White must have been to be able to float in zero-gravity above the beautiful Earth!!!!! These photos that were taken before I was born still take my breath away!!!!



Apollo 13

To best understand Ronald Evans' Rolex story, let's jump ahead to the Apollo 13 Moon Mission. In the photo below we see the Apollo 13 Prime crew eating their traditional Steak and Eggs breakfast on the morning of their flight. Notice that Jack Swigert is wearing his Rolex Pepsi GMT.

In this next photo we see a close-up of Jack Swigert wearing his Pepsi Rolex GMT that he wore to the moon.


Apollo 13 made it to the Moon's orbit, then all hell broke loose. The lives of the Apollo 13 crew members were in serious jeopardy and in the photo below we see Ronald Evans monitoring the Apollo 13 mission with members of the next-to-fly Apollo 14 crew.


Fortunately Apollo 13 made it back safely to Earth and Rolex rewarded Jack Swigert with a Yellow Gold Mocha GMT Master on a Jubilee bracelet which is pictured below. Jack Swigert gave Rolex his Pepsi GMT which is located today in Rolex World Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.




Apollo 14

I was the first historian to document the fact Ronald Evans wore his GMT which I found in this photo in the NASA archives and published two years ago. Ronald Evans was on the backup crew for Apollo 14 and you see him in the photo below on the far right wearing his Pepsi Rolex GMT Master which is for sale in the Heritage Auction Galleries sale on October 8, 2009. In this photo we see the Apollo 14 crew during their Steak and Eggs breakfast before they take off for the moon.


In the Steak and Eggs breakfast photo above taken on January 31, 1971, we see Dr. Edgar Mitchell located on the far left. An hour or so later we see him in the picture below as he prepares to board the Apollo 14 Mission to go to the Moon. Notice he is setting the time on his two Pepsi Rolex GMT Master watches.



Apollo 17

In the photo below we see the Prime Crew of Apollo 17 posing in front of the Saturn Rocket that would soon take them safely to the Moon and back. We see Eugene Cernan sitting on the lunar probe with Harrison Schmitt pictured next to Ronald Evans.



Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt is pictured below in his official NASA Apollo 17 portrait.


The Last Man On The Moon

Apollo 17 Mission Commander Eugene A. Cernan is pictured below in his official NASA Apollo 17 portrait. Eugene Cernan flew in the Gemini IX mission as well as on Apollo 10 and as part of Apollo 17 would be the last man to walk on the Moon.



Please click on the Black Part 2 Button To Continue Story



Was Apollo 11 Astronaut Michael Collins The First NASA Astronaut to wear a Rolex Watch?



The Apollo 11 Story

Michael Collins
First Documented Rolex At NASA
Rolex Turn-O-Graph

Putting together Jake's Rolex Watch Blog is really fun because it is like a history lesson for me.

I feel like a Rolex Explorer (Pun not intended).

The Apollo 11 mission was the first manned mission to land on the Moon. Apollo 11 launched from The Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 16, 1969 and landed on the Moon on July 20, 1969. Neal Armstrong and Buzz Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin were the first humans to land on the Moon while Michael Collins orbited above.

It has been said that Rolex was not the first watch on the moon and I don't know because I was not there, but this image of American Apollo 11 Astronaut Michael Collins is very interesting. The photo of him was taken on April 16, 1969 during centrifuge training as he prepared to go to the moon three months later.

As you can tell by clicking on the images below for close ups of Apollo Astronaut Michael Collins he is unequivocally wearing a Stainless Steel Rolex. I believe it is a Stainless Steel Rolex Turn-O-Graph which was a precursor to the Submariner. 






Pictured above and below are the prime crew of Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. Left to right are Neil Armstrong, Commander; Michael Collins, Command Module Pilot and Edwin "Buzz" Aldren Jr., Lunar Module Pilot (May 1, 1969). Notice in the photo above that Michael Collins is wearing his Rolex on his right wrist as he posses with his fellow crew members, in front of the Saturn V at the Kennedy Space Center that would soon take them to the moon and back.




...The Rolex President...
U.S. President: Lyndon Johnson
Apollo 11 Lift-off

In this next photo we see U.S. President Lyndon Johnson wearing his trademark yellow gold "Rolex President" Day-Date as he watches Apollo 11 take-off for the moon on July 16, 1969 at 9:32am EDT. U.S. Vice President Spiro Agnew is pictured on Johnson's right and Lady Bird is on his left.



Historical Note: The photo above of U.S. President Johnson is a bit ironic because he was no longer President when this photo was taken. At the time Richard Nixon was the President of The United States and he did not attend since he was paranoid the launch might fail. Instead he watched the launch live on TV from the Oval Office.








The EAGLE has landed.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Rolex Super Coolness: William J. "Pete" Knight The Fastest Man That Ever Flew



...The Complete History Of The Rolex GMT-Master...

Rolex X-Files

Rolex Hypersonic Coolness: William J. "Pete" Knight
U.S. Air Force Test-Pilot & Astronaut
1929-2004

The Fastest Man That Ever Flew

Set All-Time Speed Record Flying an X-15 at Mach 6.7
Wearing a Pepsi GMT Master [Reference 1675]

This is an amazing Rolex history story you won't find anywhere else, filled with images that are exclusive to this story. I have been working on researching this story for many years and I am really excited to finally share it with you!!! This story has all the exciting science-fiction elements of Buck Rogers, but this fascinating story is not science fiction. It is all real!!!

You may have noticed, at the top of story, there is a title named "The Complete History Of The Rolex GMT-Master." Essentially, this is the first chapter I am presenting in this series, but it does not have a chapter number because I have not figured out what chapter it will be.

Many of the stories I have written in the past are renowned for giving you an inside perspective on Rolex. Rolex is a very private company and they have a code of silence which is rarely ever been been broken. In this story, we will learn how amazing Rolex Director, Rene-Paul Jeanneret was and how he deserves credit for being the father of the tool watch.


America's First Spaceship
The Hypersonic North American X-15

The early experimental research aircraft involved in the United States X-Plane program were the precursor to the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions, which ultimately put a man on the moon. Much of the technology developed in the X-Plane program paved the way for the development and implementation of the NASA Space Shuttle.

It is important to point out that the X-15a Spacecraft was the first that was able to leave the Earths atmosphere and actually fly out into space. Once the X-15 was out in space it could no longer use its wings to control movement in the vacuum of space, so it would switch over to using thrusters, much in the way the Space Shuttle does when it is docking with the International Space Station.

Note: Almost all the images in this story are high resolution, so you can click on them to see much more detail.



This story not only represents one of Rolex greatest historical achievements, but also one of mankind's greatest as well, and it begins with a U.S. Air Force Test Pilot as well as NASA.

William J. Knight was nicknamed as "Pete" Knight, and to this day he holds the all-time speed record for level flight at Mach 6.7 which is 4.250 Miles Per Hour or 7,274 Kilomters Per Hour.

Just to be clear on what I mean when I say "Pete" Knight holds the all-time record for level flight, I am specifically referring to a single person in a winged aircraft who is actually flying the aircraft in level flight. This classification does not include several people riding on a Saturn rocket to the Moon or gliding back to earth on a Space Shuttle.

Knight achieved this in a X-15-a Test Airplane on October 3, 1967 above the Nevada and California desert and landed successfully at Edwards Air Force Base, and yes, you guessed it, he set this all-time speed record for level flight in a winged aircraft while wearing his trusted Pepsi Rolex GMT-Master.


William J. Knight was a U.S. Air Force Test Pilot as well as an Air Force Astronaut. The X-15 program ran from 1960 until 1967. The X-15 program years represent the nexus between purely atmospheric winged flight and space flight. The X-15 Airplace where Hypersonic meaning they could fly faster than Mach 5 which is 5 times the speed of sound.



Neil Armstrong
Another Notable X-15 Test Pilot

Neal Armstrong was a U.S. Navy and NACA/NASA test pilot in the X-15 program and his pictured below in 1960 standing in front of an early X-15 which he tested. Of course, Neal Armstrong is most famous for being the Mission Commander for the Apollo 11 Moon landing mission which was the first to land on the moon on July 20, 1969.



Almost a decade after the photo above was taken, on July 21, 1969 at 2:56 GMT, Neal Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon, and when he climbed out of the Eagle and stepped down the ladder of the lunar landing module, Neil Armstrong uttered the famous words:

"I'm going to step off the LEM now. That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." –Neil Armstrong (Apollo 11)


The above photo of Neil Armstrong is one of the few photographs of him that was taken during his EVA on the Moon. One of the important facts to take into consideration before you continue reading this story, is that everything in this story occurred before any men walked on the moon.


The Hypersonic X-15 Experimental Spacecraft

The X-15 planes were made by the U.S. company named North American. The X-15 were rocket-powered aircrafts that were also spaceplanes and they were part of the X-series of experimental aircraft. The X-series began with the Bell X-1 that Chuck Yeager flew in 1947 when he set the record for being the first pilot to fly faster than the speed of sound. Of course, Chuck Yeager was wearing his trusted Rolex Oyster Perpetual when he set that record.

In the photo below we see the Hypersonic X-15 attached to a customized B-52 Bomber Airplane by attaching it to a pylon under its right wing. The B-52 would take off and once it got to altitude, it would release the X-15 and it would take off on its mission.



In the photo below we see the X-15 just after it has been released from the B-52. This is an amazing photos and my favorite detail in this photo is that you can see the helmet of the X-15 pilot, which makes it seem that much more real.

In other words, in typical photos of the X-15, as with photos of the Space Shuttle, you typically never see the pilot, so the aircraft looks like a bird or an insect, but in this shot, since you see the pilots helmet, it gives you a very realistic sense of scale and dimension.



In the photo below we see an early photo of William "Pete" Knight wearing his special high-speed suit.


William Knight joined the United States Air Force in 1951 and when he was only a Second Lieutenant, in 1954 he flew a F-89 at the National Air Show and won the coveted Allison Jet Trophy.

In 1958, William Knight was transferred to Edwards Air Force Base in California where he became a test pilot for the F-100, F-101 Voodoo, and F-104 Starfighter. Later he was also a test pilot for the T-38 and F-5 test programs.


In 1960 William Knight was selected as one of only six test pilots for the X-20 Dyna-Soar program. The Dyna-Soar was positioned to achieve the first winged orbital space vehicle that was capable of lifting reentries as well as conventional landings. In 1963, after the X-20 program was cancelled Knight completed his Astronaut training cirriculum at Edwards Air Force Base and was chosen to by a test pilot for the North American X-15 program.

William Knight is pictured below with his wife and two older sons in front of an early X-15.


Rene-Paul Jeanneret, was the Director of Rolex and is credited with being the father of the Rolex Tool Watch. Rene-Paul Jeanneret was an SCUBA diver as well as a big fan of modern flight and he was also responsible for giving many of the up and coming U.S. Air Force test pilots Rolex GMT-Master watches. Since William J. Knight was one of the top U.S. Air Force pilots Rolex gave him a Pepsi GMT Master and we see the original receipt for the watch below.


The recent photo below is of the actual Pepsi Rolex GMT Master that William J. Knight wore when he set the all time speed record for level flight at Mach 6.7.





The photo below is of the actual C.O.S.C. certificate for the historically significant Rolex GMT Master.


This next image below is from the dated envelope for the letter send from Rene-Paul Jeanneret in Geneva, Switzerland to Major William J. Knight.



Here is a vintage 1968 Rolex ad on the subject of the Concrode Supersonic Jet that was test piloted by Brian Trubshaw that Rene-Paul Jeanneret mentioned in his letter above.



This next letter is from Rolex U.S.A. director, Rene P. Dentan. Rene P. Dentan was born and raised in Swtizerland and attended the University of Launsanne is Switzerland and went on to have a 45 year career with Rolex. Rene first moved to New York to join Rolex U.S.A. and worked his way up to become President and Chairman Emeritus of Rolex U.S.A.







The Record Setting White X-15a Hypersonic Spaceship

The X-15A that William Night set the all-time Hpyersonic record in was different than the previous standard X-15 in the sense it had a special white coating on it as seen below.


The photos in this series of the white X-15A were taken by the U.S. Air Force of the actual record setting event that occurred on October 3, 1967.


In the last two images and in the one below we see the X-15a attached to the B-52 as it reaches the proper altitude.


In the next images we see the X-15a with its rocket starting up. In order for the X-15a to achieve the world record for hypersonic speed, it had two special fuel tanks underneath that would help it get up to record-breaking speed, and you notice them below.



In this next image we see the X-15a as it has taken off on its own.









William Knight wrote a letter to Rene-Paul Jeanneret at Rolex just after his record setting flight and said:

"I finally flew on October 3, 1967 to a speed of 4,534 mph (7,269 kph) or Mach 6.72, and all systems functioned properly with the exception of some local heating damage on the lower ventral. I have been wearing my Rolex GMT-Master for a period of months now and have calibrated it to within a few seconds a day."



"Made A Career Of Challenging The Impossible" –President Johnson

Here is a newspaper clipping that shows President Johnson awarding William Knight the Harmon International Aviation Trophy back in 1967.




In many of the images in this story, including the one above, we see William Knight wearing his trademark Pepsi Rolex GMT Master, and in the photo below we see the engraving on the back. Apparently the engraver had a dyslexic moment and interposed the last two digits of the year.

In other words, it was supposed to read, 1967, but they engraved 1976. When William Knight noticed the mistake, he thought it was funny and decided to leave it with the wrong date. The photo below is of the actual Rolex GMT Master he wore when he set the all-time speed record at Mach 6.7 on October 3, 1967.





After a very long and distinguished career in the U.S. Air Force, William J. Knight became a California State Politician and started in the California State Assembly and then he went to serve as as California State Senator in the California State Senate.


William J. Knight wore his trademark Pepsi Rolex GMT Master until he passed away in 2004 at 75 years of age. His actual Rolex GMT is picture below and it has to be one of the most historically distinguished Rolex watches in the world.I hope you enjoyed this magnificent piece of Rolex, NASA, and U.S. Air Force piece of history, but I am far from done on this subject. In the future I will be exploring much deeper into the Rolex/NASA/U.S. Air Force history with some really exciting, fascinating stories and photos.

On a side note, I must admit, despite the fact I am 44 years old and I was born and raised in the United States, prior to beginning my research on the history of the Rolex GMT Master, I had a very cloudy understanding of the history of NASA and aeronautics. For instance, if you had asked my what the difference was between project Mercury, Gemini and Apollo, I would have had no idea.

From my personal perspective, researching and publishing this story and the other NASA stories has given my a much clearer understanding of this amazing history. In the future, of this series named "The Complete History Of The Rolex GMT Master" I plan to tie together the entire history of Aeronautics from the Wright Brothers up to Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier, through the X-15 program, the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs, up through SKYLAB, the Space Shuttle, and the International Space Station.

I believe that in the following years, once I tie all this fine history together, it should give readers a crystal-clear understanding of this amazing history that every informed world citizen should be aware of.

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