Sunday, February 17, 2019

Yellow Gold Rolex GMT-Master

....Rolex Studio Shot Of The Day....

Yellow Gold Rolex GMT-Master

Bakelite Bezel

The photo below of the vintage Rolex GMT-Master appears courtesy of Christie's Auction house, and is a beauty indeed! This is a very early yellow gold GMT, as it has the sword hands, which lack the traditional Mercedes Marker on the hour had, and it also has the tiny arrowhead on the 24-hour hand. The dial on this watch has nipple markers, and more importantly a very rare original brown bakelite bezel insert, with matching yellow gold 24-hour time numerals.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

PBS American Experience SEALAB Documentary

Note: I plan to keep working on this story until I feel it is complete at which time I will remove this notice.


PBS American Experience Documentary


The full-length PBS American Experience Documentary aired last night at 9PM PST in the United States. This documentary was really special for me as I was interviewed for it and contributed my research knowledge including photos. From what I understand this documentary is only viewable online if you are located in the United States, so if you can't watch it, I will do my best to share the Rolex relevant details. If you are located in the U.S. hit the play button and enjoy!!!

I thought the documentary was GREAT!!! It was extremely immersive and offered tremendous context, and as I have said so many times, "Context gives context meaning." I am already in my second decade of researching the SEALAB story and the PBS Documentary made many things clearer—particularly with timeframes. I intend to make this article my Definitive SEALAB article that puts many of the final puzzle pieces in place. I realize this is probably going to take me weeks, if not months to complete as I have so much information to add to this story.


Scott Carpenter was one of the Aquanauts involved in the SEALAB 2 Mission, and in the photo below we see Scott in 1970 wearing his Rolex SEA-DWELLER. If you look closely you will notice Scott wore his Submariner and SEA-DWELLER on a black diving strap which included a depth-gauge, as was customary for many of the SEALAB divers.

 "The Rolex Submariner & Rolex SEA-DWELLER have a cachet that is unmatched by any other watch. The Rolex brand is the most highly respected in my book. The Rolex Submariner was the preferred diving watch for U.S. NAVY SEALAB Divers." –Scott Carpenter

U.S. Navy SEA-LAB Aquanauts: Bob Barth, Wilbur Eaton & Scott Carpenter
Team 1 Preparing To Dive Down To SEA-LAB 2 Habitat [August 28, 1965]

Below we see a 1967 Rolex Submariner magazine ad which was published during the U.S. Navy SEALAB program. This is the closest vintage magazine ad I am aware of Rolex advertising the Submariner in relation to a Submarine Captain. Notice the text in the ad reads:

"You're looking at the Rolex Submariner. For many years, it's been standard gear for SUBMARINERS, frogmen and all who make their living on the seas."


This next set of images is really interesting to me. This footage shows Walt Mazzone welcoming the SEALAB 3 team members as they leave the decompression bell after the mission ended. 

I interviewed Walt Mazzone in 2010 and he mentioned he had a single red Rolex Submariner 1680, which this could be. If its not a Rolex Submariner Reference 1680 it would likely be a 5512 or 5513. I just went through my archives and found my interviews with Walt Mazzone which I plan to publish soon :-)

Rolex developed the SEA-DWELLER with SEALAB Aquanaut Bob Barth who is pictured below at the first Aquanaut to come out of the decompression chamber and we know he was wearing a Single Red SEA-DWELLER Prototype which you can see on his wrist.

The second Aquanaut who is behind Barth is also wearing a Rolex SEA-DWLLER from what I can see of the photo as it features all the tell-tale characteristics.

The third aquanaut to leave the chamber is Blackburn who also appears to be wearing a Rolex SEA-DWELLER.

The next image below was taken in the SEALAB 3 Habitat and shows Bob Barth on the right and Barry Cannon on the left checking his Rolex Submariner, or more presumably his prototype Rolex SEA-DWELLER. This image was taken hours before the accidental and terribly tragic death of Barry Cannon.

The image below is from the SEALAB Documentary and shows a SEALAB underwater photographer wearing a Submariner. There are no cyclops lenses on any of these watches as Rolex did not add the date to the Submariner until the Submariner Date was released in 1969.

The photo below is from Bob Barth's personal collection, and we see Bob located in the back row in the center, standing up with the tattoos on his arms. Notice Bob Barth and Barry Cannon (front row on far left) are wearing Rolex SEA-DWELLER prototypes in the photo. Blackburn, Myers, Reaves and Heller are wearing Doxa Diver models.

The Cousteau Connection

The only thing I didn't like about the SEALAB Documentary was I thought the it could have easily been two hours long. Also, it really glossed over Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his son, Philippe Cousteau's contribution to SEALAB, as well as Dr. Bond's contribution to CONSHELF. In this story I hope to clarify and put those final pieces of the SEALAB puzzle together. Ironically, it was Jacques-Yves Cousteau who first turned Scott Carpenter on to the U.S. Navy SEALAB program while Scott was still at NASA.

Let's take a look at the three high-res screen grabs below from the SEALAB documentary which show footage from Jacques-Yves Cousteau's 1966 Academy Award winning Documentary named "World Without Sun." The first thing we see is that Jacques-Yves is wearing what has all the telltale signs of being a Rolex Submariner 5512 or 5513 as seen in the three pictures below.

Cousteau wearing this Submariner is something I first documented a decade ago in 2009, but with these new images we can see more detail, which is great.

I would not call this evidence unequivocal, but I would say there is a 99%+ chance it is a 5512 or 5513.

It is an established fact Jacques-Yves Cousteau wore a prototype Rolex Submariner in 1953 which his Calypso team tested for Rolex and we see Commander Cousteau in the image below wearing his Submariner in 1953. This photo was taken 13 years before the photos above, so I doubt it is the same Submariner model.

The close up photo above of Jacques-Yves Cousteau shows him wearing an early Rolex Submariner with pencil hands that looks like the similar vintage model seen below.

The document below confirms Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his team were testing Rolex Submariner prototypes in early 1953.

The letter below is from Jacques-Yves Cousteau to William Culpepper regarding the design of the SEALAB II habitat with recommendations from J.Y.C.

The drawing below shows Jaques-Yves Cousteau's recommendation for the layout of the SEALAB II habitat. Special thanks to my right hand man, Jose from for providing these historically significant images which he got when he traveled to Panama City in Florida to the SEALAB Museum.

In the next image below we again see Philippe wearing his Rolex SEA-DWELLER.

 The photo below, is of Jacques-Yves Cousteau's son, Philippe Cousteau, and it was taken while he was preparing for a dive during SEALAB III. 

Notice the dive assistant pictured on the left is wearing a Rolex Submariner.

Philippe Cousteau's Double Red Patent-Pending SEA-DWELLER is pictured below in a recent photo from an Antiquorum Auction. The caseback on this watch has an interior date stamp from the fourth quarter of 1967 that reads IV.67, with the serial number of 1,602,920. Philippe Cousteau's Rolex SEA-DWELLER sold on September 30, 2014 for $183,750 @ Antiquorum Auction House in New York. It is believed, based upon its serial number, this watch likely began its life as a Single Red-Sea-Dweller that ended up getting its dial replaced with a double red device dial.

In this next photo from the PBS Documentary we see another SEALAB Topside team and we see Morey wearing a Submariner.

The Special Thanks screenshot below is from the end of the SEALAB Documentary and you will notice my name on the list which is really cool as I shared everything I could with their production team.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Stewart Blacker First Expedition To Fly Over Mount Everest

...Rolex Coolness...

Stewart Blacker

First Expedition To Fly Over Mount Everest

Flying 6 Miles High In The Himalayas In 1933
Wearing Standard Rolex Oyster Snowite Watches

Most Rolex aficionados know Rolex was the first to conquer Mount Everest when Sir Edmund Hillary and his loyal Sherpa, Tenzing Norway were the first members of the Mount Everest climbing team in 1953 to each the summit of Everest. That being said, most people are not aware of how the first expedition to really conquer Mount Everest did so, twenty years earlier in 1933 when they were the first humans to fly over Mount Everest in airplanes.

Stewart Blacker was member of the expedition that first conquered Mount Everest and he and his expedition member did so wearing Rolex watches that looked very similar to the one pictured below.

Stewart Blacker wrote the letter that appears in the Rolex ad below from July 12, 1933 after flying at over 33,000 feet of altitude.

Stewart Blacker took the photo below in 1933, which Rolex incorporated into the Rolex ad seen above, as an illustration. 

It is important to add some context to this story. Rolex was the very first company to patent and bring to market, the worlds first water-proof watch, and it was called the Rolex Oyster. That being said, Rolex first started offering Rolex Oyster watches in 1927, and this expedition that was equipped with Oyster models achieved this great feat only 5 years later!!! Below is a copy of the original letter Stewart wrote to Rolex on June 12, 1933.

This story kind of reminds me of another recent story I published about Stan Barrett, who was the first man to drive on land past the speed of sound—In the sense that in both stories men pushed the envelope of what was possible, with machines they navigated, while wearing Rolex watches on their wrists. Rolex History really is the story of Man and his machines.

Wings Over Everest
1935 Academy Award Winning Documentary

The video documentary seen below, titled 'Wings Over Everest' was made in 1933 and covers all the details of the amazing event. It goes into great detail and offers a first hand perspective of how everything unfolded. It was released to the public in 1934, and in 1935 won the Academy Award for 'Best Novelty Short Subject'. IN the documentary at 14:15 you can see team members wearing their Rolex Oyster watches.

On April 3, 1933, the Royal Air Force Squadron was the first to fly over Mount Everest. Pictured below is Flight Lieutenant David McIntyre, who, which his squadron members, including Stewart Blacker, flew into the history as the first men to fly over Mount Everest—with their trusted Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches keeping their time.

Contextualizing 1933

Let's get in the Rolex Time Machine and travel back to 1933 to better understand the time.

One of the greatest events in the history of cinematography took place in 1933, and that was the release of the original King Kong movie. King Kong literally created the action-adventure category of movies, and in the final scenes of the movie, features King Kong fighting with airplanes that are attaching him. Ironically, this was the most state-of-the-art science fiction at the time. Ironically, while this movie was playing in theaters, the English Mount Everest expedition team was flying airplanes to conquer the highest mountain on earth—while relying on their then technologically amazing Rolex Oyster wrist watches!!!

1927 Rolex Oyster Introduction Advertorial

On an interesting side note, we know that Mercedes Gleitze was the first Rolex Brand Ambassador, and appeared in the Rolex ad seen below on November 24, 1927, which was in the same year Rolex introduced the Rolex Oyster to the marketplace. So basically, this Mercedes Gleitze Rolex ad pre-dates the Everest by six years. In other words, this ad was the very first where Rolex published an advertorial featuring a person who achieved an amazing feat while wearing a Rolex.

1930 Sir Malcolm Campbell Advertorial

The Rolex Magazine ad pictured below, which features Sir Malcolm Campbell, was the next major Rolex ad published on June 18, 1930, which was less than three years earlier than the first flight over Mount Everest ad.  

1935 Sir Malcolm Campbell Advertorial

The next Rolex ad, seen below which again features Sir Malcolm Campbell, was published two years AFTER the conquest of Everest Ad. This is fascinating, as it gives us a first-hand perspective on how excited Rolex Founder, Hans Wilsdorf must have been at the time—to see one person after another pushing the envelope of what was previously thought to be impossible.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

GQ GMT-Master Story Mentioned Jake's Rolex World...

GQ GMT-Master Story

Jake's Rolex World Mentioned

GQ Magazine recently reached out to interview me about an article they were writing about the highly iconic Rolex GMT-Master and I offered my insight. The GQ article was published recently and it is titled, "You Know Rolex Makes Something Called a "GMT." But What Is It, Exactly" by Cam Wolf. 

I am including a contextual expert from the Rolex GMT GQ article that includes the part where they quote me:

The invention of the watch wasn’t just helpful for Pan Am workers, it was a pretty good day on the job: they were all furnished with the new tricked-out timepieces. But the watch wasn’t just for those trained in the art of safety demonstrations. Soon, it was turning up on a who’s who of 20th-century icons: Dizzy Gillespie, Marlon Brando, Pablo Picasso, Hunter S. Thompson, and Eric Clapton. Even Che Guevara and Fidel Castro wore GMTs.

Of course, carrying around a watch that can tell the wearer two different time zones doesn’t feel very advanced today. But for collectors, the watch marks a milestone in human history: the moment we started traveling around the world on planes. There’s historical heft and significance there for people who obsesses over watches and Rolex in particular. “A lot of [the adoration is motivated] by nostalgia,” says Jake Ehrlich, the founder of Jake's Rolex World and Rolex Magazine. “The same reason people like Disneyland: it takes you to this simple place.”

Because the watch market is so heavily influenced by squishy qualities, like a piece’s history and story, the GMT is climbing in value. James Lamdin, who owns the Manhattan-based watch shop Analog/Shift, says the value for GMTs started climbing three or four years ago. In 2015, the reference number 1675, which was the model Rolex made for about two decades and is the one Lamdin considers the measuring stick for GMTs, would have sold for around $5,000. Now, he says, the value’s tripled to around $15,000. “The meteoric rise was a collector-community-wide realization that these watches were way too inexpensive,” says Lamdin.

History Doesn't Seem Like History 
When You Are Living Through It

I thought I would take this opportunity to elaborate on what I meant in the GQ article Quote when I compared Rolex to Disneyland and nostalgia:

We live in a world that is becoming increasingly complex. At times, it appears the complexity is exponential, and this causes us to become stressed-out and confused. Current Rolex design language is steeped in late Art-Deco from the 1950s, which is designed to be simple in a sophisticated and timeless way. I believe our brain is programmed to not only recognize patterns, but has a preference or appreciation for objects that are timeless, simple and durable—and that is exactly what Rolex offers in both vintage and modern watches. When I said:

“A lot of [the adoration is motivated] by nostalgia,” says Jake Ehrlich, the founder of Jake's Rolex World and Rolex Magazine. “The same reason people like Disneyland: it takes you to this simple place.”

I meant when people visit Disneyland—which, like Rolex is more popular today than it has ever been—they feel safe and comfortable being surrounded by icons of the past like Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Pluto and Goofy. (Think Submariner, GMT, Datejust, Daytona and Day-Date). Just like Disneyland, Rolex is otherworldly in the sense that when you put a new or vintage Rolex watch on your wrist it transports you to another world. This—by definition—is the effect nostalgia has on us. Finding solace in the past...

The Way We Were

Barbara Streisand wrote and performed a magnificent song back named "The Way We Were" in 1975 that basically sums up what I am trying to share with you. This performance and lyrics are hauntingly otherworldly:

Memories light the corners of my mind
Misty water-colored memories of the way we were
Scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another for the way we were

Can it be that it was all so simple then
Or has time rewritten every line?
If we had the chance to do it all again
Tell me, would we?
Could we?

Memories may be beautiful and yet
What's too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget
So it's the laughter we will remember
Whenever we remember
The way we were...
The way we were

Can It Be That It Was So Simple Then

Or Has Time Rewritten Every Line? 

The GQ Article mentioned a number of famous historical figures who have worn Rolex GMT-Masters so I thought I would include pictures of some of them in this post to give you frame of reference. Let's start with this image of Pablo Picasso. I remember when I first discovered and published this now famous Rolex GMT-Master image, almost falling out of my chair!!!! Why? 

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso is the most famous modern artist in history. His looks are as iconic as his name, but you would not expect to see him wearing and American Indian Headdress. Also, despite being Spanish, Picasso could easily pass for being a native American Indian. When you first see this image, nobody tells you its Picasso, you can't help but notice that this American Indian is wearing a honking Rolex GMT-Master on his wrist.

I discovered and published this seminal Picasso Rolex image back in 2011 which was taken back in 1960 in Cannes, France on the French Riviera. One of the other things about his Picasso image is that despite being taken a half-century ago, it could have been taken yesterday. The design language of the his Rolex GMT-Master is so similar to the current GMT-Master, it is truly remarkable!!!

Dizzy Gillespie

Just like Pablo Picasso, Dizzy Gillespie is another super-iconic pioneer who wore a Rolex GMT-Master. 

In the photo below we see Dizzy Gillespie on the cover of his seminal 1961 album titled, "An Electrifying Evening With The Dizzy Gillespie Quintet", and notice Dizzy is wearing his Pepsi GMT-Master on a Jubilee bracelet.

One of the strangest and most bizarre things I ever witnessed Rolex do was discontinue the highly iconic stainless steel Pepsi GMT-Master in 2005. Ironically, Rolex brought back the Pepsi in 2018 as pictured below and it has been a smash hit!!!

In the photo below we see Dizzy Gillespie rockin' his Pepsi GMT-Master on a Jubilee Bracelet back in the 1960s.

Speaking of the Pepsi GMT-Master on a Jubilee Bracelet—in the photo below we see Dustin Hoffman back in the 1970s, posing with Meryl Streep and notice Dustin is sporting his Pepsi GMT-Master on a Jubilee Bracelet.

Marlon Brando

GQ also mentioned Marlon Brando in their GMT-Master article. Marlon Brando is widely regarded to be the greatest actor of all time, and he was a lifelong Rolex wearer. The photo below shows Marlon Brando in 1975 rockin' his Pepsi GMT-Master on an Oyster Bracelet.

This next image, seen below, shows Marlon Brando on the set of Apocalypse Now in 1979 sporting a Rolex GMT-Master that is missing its bezel insert, which give the watch a whole different look...

Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson also wore Rolex GMT-Master models during his lifetime. In the photo below we see Hunter sporting his Pepsi GMT-Master.

Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro wore many different Rolex models during his lifetime.

The photo below was taken of Castro's first visit to the USSR on April 27th, 1963, which resulted in Castro spending 40 days touring the Soviet Union.

If you look closely at this photo you will notice so interesting details. First, notice that Castro is sporting two Rolex watches on his left wrist; a Rolex GMT-Master and a Rolex Day-Date. Also notice there is another bearded communist on the wall witnessing this moment in time, and that is the father of communism, Carl Marx, who wrote The Communist Manifesto.

Castro returned to the Kremlin in 1964 and was still wearing a GMT-Master and Rolex President on his left wrist. This time he was hugging Leonid Brezhnev.

In the photo below taken years later we see Leonid Brezhnev who was the General Secretary of the former Communist Party of The Soviet Union, and he is rockin' his yellow gold Rolex Datejust. Communism for the masses, capitalism for the bosses!!! Just saying' :-)

Che Guevara

Fellow Cuban Communist Revolutionary, Che Guevara was Fidel Castro's right hand man, and he also famously wore a Rolex GMT-Master.

Eric Clapton

The GQ article also mentioned Eric Clapton who is one of the most iconic musicians alive today, as well as being a fellow Rolex fanatic of the highest order. In the photo below we see Eric sporting his Coffee GMT-Master.

NASA Astronauts

When Cam from GQ interviewed me I showed him images of many different NASA Astronauts sporting Rolex GMT-Master models and he was really surprised as he mentioned that he was not aware of this fact. He said, "Wow, I thought they only wore Omega Speedmaster watches!?!!" For some reason GQ did not mention the NASA Astronauts who wore GMT-Master models to the moon and back so I thought I would include some of them here.

Pete Knight

Willian "Pete" Knight is pictured below wearing his Pepsi GMT-Master which he wore when he set the all time speed record for level flight in 1967 when he flew his Hypersonic X-15 into the record books when he hit Mach 6.7.

Jack Swigert

Jack Swigert was one of the members of Apollo 13 and in the first photo below we see him wearing his Pepsi GMT-Master which he wore to the moon and back. This watch is in Rolex's private museum collection today in Switzerland. In the second image we see Swigert's gold GMT-Master.

Dr. Edgar Mitchell

Dr. Edgar Mitchell is pictured below as he prepares to take off for the moon aboard Apollo 14, and in the second image we see him in quarantine after he returned from his mission.

Eugene Cernan

Eugene Cernan from Apollo 17 is pictured below wearing a Rolex GMT-Master on the outside of his space suit.

Chuck Yeager

Chuck Yeager is pictured below famously wearing his Pepsi GMT-Master.

Pussy Galore

Honor Blackman famously wore here Pepsi Rolex GMT-Master in the James Bond film, Goldfinger when she played Pussy Galore. In this photo we see James Bond actor, Sean Connery getting ready to kiss Pussy Galore actress, Honor Blackman. "That Sean Connery—He's a masculine actor!"

John McVie

John McVie, the bass player from Fleetwood Mac is pictured below in 1967 playing with his GMT-Master.

Bill Wyman

Bill Wyman was a founding member and bass player for The Rolling Stones and he is pictured below wearing his two-tone Root Beer GMT-Master.

John Paul Jones

John Paul Jones is the founding bass player of Led Zeppelin and in the photo below we see him in 1977 with Jimmy Page rockin' his two-tone GMT-Master.

Jimmy Buffett

Singer, songwriter, guitarist Jimmy Buffett is pictured below, also in 1977 sporting his yellow gold Rolex GMT-Master.

Sir Jackie Stewart

Legendary race card driver Sir Jackie Stewart is pictured below with Paul Newman, wearing a Rolex GMT-Master.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger is pictured below wearing his yellow two-tone Root Beer GMT-Master. 

Stan Barrett

Stan Barrett was not only the top stuntman in Hollywood in the 1970s but also broke back to back to back land speed records which culminated in him being the first driver to break the speed of sound barrier on land. 

In the photo above we see Stan Barrett in 1979 at Edwards Air Force Base as he prepares to break through the sound barrier in his Budweiser Rocket car. Notice Stan is wearing a Daytona and GMT-Master on his wrist.

Ralph Lauren

Famous clothing designer, Ralph Lauren is pictured below back in the early 1980s wearing his Pepsi GMT-Master.

Clint Eastwood

Famous actor, Clint Eastwood is pictured below in front of the Space Shuttle in 1981 sporting his Root Beer GMT-Master [Reference 1675].

Tom Selleck

Tom Selleck is pictured below on the set of Magnum PI in his Ferrari rocking his famously iconic Pepsi GMT-Master.

Elle Macpherson

Super Model, Elle Macpherson is pictured below wearing her Rolex GMT-Master.

Mel Gibson

Famous Actor, Mel Gibson is pictured below wearing a Pepsi GMT-Master from the movie Air America.

Keanu Reeves

Keanu Reeves is pictured below in a photo from the 2008 hit movie, Street Kings sporting his Pepsi GMT-Master.

Brad Pitt

Talk about a timeless GQ dude! Brad Pitt is sporting his yellow gold Rolex GMT-Master in the photo below.

Arnold Palmer

Legendary golf icon and Rolex Ambassador, Arnold Palmer is pictured below sporting his yellow gold Rolex GMT-Master.

Sylvester Stallone

Sylvester Stallone is pictured below sporting a bejeweled masterpiece white gold GMT-Master in a recent photo.

Iconic GMT-Master 

As we see, the GMT-Master is one of the most iconic Rolex watches ever made. You can learn much, much more about about this watch in my story named "The Complete History of The Rolex GMT-Master."