Thursday, August 6, 2020

75 Years After Hiroshima : The Paul Tibbets Story


My phone lit up with the word "Nuke" on it. I had U.S. Air Force Brigadier General (ret.) Paul W. Tibbets IV in my phone contact under just his pilot callsign. "Time to chat?" Nuke texted. I replied, "For sure."

It's not every day you come across a Rolex GMT-Master that has logged over 1,000 hours in the B-2 Stealth Bomber, including combat missions. This was my most sensitive Rolex article to date and Nuke was calling to tell me what I could show in pictures. 

"We can't show anything that is part of the B-2's defensive management system," he said. "The fuel display is a big no-no," he added. How about the kneeboard? "I see joker and bingo numbers written on it," he replied. "We don't want to show that."

General Paul "Nuke" Tibbets is a former B-2 pilot, instructor and examiner, and the recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross award. He has since traded his stealth bomber for a civilian Boeing 747. 

But back in 1999, as a young U.S. Air Force captain with a GMT-Master on his wrist, he had already made aviation history. He lead the world's first B-2 combat sortie, penetrating Yugoslavia's airspace and going undetected against its advanced air defense system. During that stealth night mission, he targeted 16 impact points and blew up military production facilities, including the Smederevo Petroleum Product Storage near Belgrade. A day at the office wearing his trusty Rolex.

But it is during some of those long 30-hour missions at high altitude in the B-2 that Nuke had plenty of time to glance at his wrist and remember his grandfather, Paul Tibbets Jr. 

"It was an emotional time when my grandfather gave me the watch," Paul told me. "It's the one thing in life that he valued, that he treasured, that he passed on to me. I felt honestly that he was passing on the torch."

Paul Tibbets' grandfather had also retired as a brigadier general in the U.S. Air Force. And if that name sounds familiar, it's because Paul's grandpa made history as well. Paul Tibbets Jr. had one of the most important missions of World War II as the pilot in command of the B-29 Enola Gay on Aug. 6, 1945. He flew to Hiroshima 75 years ago this week to help put an end to World War II.

Obviously, Tibbets Jr. wasn't wearing a GMT-Master at the time, as the model hadn't been invented. But when the World War II veteran went on to become the CEO of the first fractional business jet company in the world, he was among a handful of pilots in the company to be handed a GMT-Master 1675 by a new corporate client: Rolex USA itself. Rolex had gifted the watch as part of an advertising campaign for the GMT-Master.

The watch of the bomber-pilot-turned-CEO was manufactured in 1966. And it stayed on his wrist until his grandson graduated from U.S. Air Force pilot training in 1990. 

"He knew I was fascinated with the watch," Paul told me. "I had commented several times on it." 

Paul spent four years at the U.S. Air Force Academy. On the morning of his pilot training graduation in 1990, the famous Enola Gay pilot attended the ceremony and took off his Rolex GMT-Master.

"He literally slid the watch over to me on the table and said, 'I want you to have it,'" Paul told me. When Paul inquired to have the GMT-Master serviced in 2004, he contacted Rolex SA in Geneva. Rolex, knowing its provenance, restored the watch to specs pro-bono. 

"I don't have a uniform of his," Paul told me. "I don't have his wings. I don't have any of his Air Force memorabilia. The only thing I have is that watch."

The timepiece is as old as Paul. With a 1,259,261 serial, it was manufactured the year of Paul's birth, 1966.

There is a tradition in the military where a pilot takes his first set of wings, snap them in half and give half to someone really important to the pilot while keeping the other half. 

Paul Tibbets IV snapped his first set of pilot wings and gave his grandfather that half. "He is a hero of mine," he told me. And Paul's grandfather gave him the Rolex. Paul described it as a "pretty emotional time." 

"And my grandpa knew that," he said. "My grandpa wasn't really known to be an emotional guy. But I think that's a pretty significant event when he handed me that watch."

It's the most special relationship between the two of us," he said. "Because when I wear that watch, I think about my grandpa."

I finally asked Paul whether he will give the Rolex GMT-Master to his son, Paul Tibbets V, who is now 18. "That's my plan," he said. Then he added, laughing: "Probably when he gets a little older, and I know that he'll take care of it!"

Special thanks to Nick Gould for his valuable contribution to this story. Read more Rolex pilot stories by Capt. Danny here

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Arnold Schwarzenegger Yellow Gold Rolex GMT-Master

...Vintage Rolex Coolness...



Yellow Gold Rootbeer GMT-Master

I Want To Pump You Up!!!

Arnold Schwarzenegger was is celebrating his 73rd birthday today so I thought it would be a good time to take a look back as his amazing career achievements as well as his Yellow Gold Rootbeer GMT-Master.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has many nicknames; The Oak, The Austrian Oak, The Olympian, Oak, The King, Champ, Arnie, Schwarzie, Arnold Strong, Mr. Universe, Mr. Olympia and The Governator. 

What a life he has lived. From Mister Universe, to Mega Movie Star to the Governor of California.

I am working on my upcoming Andy Warhol story, and I thought I would offer a preview of some of the great Polaroid images from the story. These Warhol Polaroids feature a barechested Arnold Schwarzenneger sporting his GMT-Master. One of the amazing details in my upcoming story has to do with how prescient and relevant Warhol's polaroids are today as an analog to Instagram, and Pinterest. Today, with an iPhone in hand, we are all now potentially Andy Warhol.

It doesn't just tell time

It tells history



Arnold looks a bit like Elon Musk in these photos as Schwarzenegger is smoking a joint while he enjoys some fried chicken along with a glass of white wine, and he is hilariously wearing a t-shirt that says "ARNOLD IS NUMERO UNO". Arnold is also wearing his yellow gold GMT-Master in these photos which was originally designed for pilots and jet setters who like to fly high ;-)


Hotel Meurice, Paris, France

Yellow Gold Rolex GMT-Master

These classic images of Arnold were taken in a hotel room in Paris in 1988. In the photos, we see him wearing his yellow gold Rolex GMT-Master, on a Jubilee bracelet.

...All In The Family...

Arnold, Maria & Patrick Schwarzenegger

Like Father & Mother—Like Son

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver were married and have four children—two girls and two boys. Patrick Schwarzenegger is the oldest boy and we see him pictured below in a recent shot sporting his Stainless Steel Rolex Submariner with a Ceramic bezel.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is pictured below with Maria Shriver when then first started dating, and we see him wearing his Yellow-Gold Rolex GMT-Master.

Like Mother—Like Son: In the photo below, we see Arnold Schwarzenegger with his wife, Maria Shriver, who is wearing a 36MM Rolex Day-Date. Maria Shriver is a Kennedy, and many of her fellow Kennedy relatives also wear Rolex.

Who You Callin' Girlyman!?!

Hasta La Vista Baby!!!

Monday, July 27, 2020

Whatta Watch!!: The Rolex SD43 SINGLE-RED SEA-DWELLER

Whatta Watch!!

The Rolex SD43 


Reference 12660

The current Single-Red SEA-DWELLER (SRSD) in one of the coolest models Rolex makes today, and my old pal Sheldon Smith from MINUS 4 PLUS 6 just published a love story named "Whatta Watch: The Rolex SD43 Reference 126600." 

Sheldon mentioned my super-detailed long-term review named "Jake's Notebook: The Second Coming of The Rolex SINGLE-RED SEA-DWELLER" article.

One of the reasons I think the timing of Sheldon's article is apropos is due to Jose's recent articles named The SEA-DWELLER Chronicles Part 1, as well as The SEA-DWELLER Chronicles Part 2, which added a tremendous amount of historical significance to the Single Red SEA-DWELLER backstory.