Monday, April 28, 2014

How A GMT Pepsi Helped Save My Life by John Baker III

How A GMT Pepsi Helped Save My Life
by John Baker III

"Dear Friends:

This is going to take a while, so grab an extra cup of coffee and get comfortable.

The "incident" took place on Oct 22nd and 23rd 2009. Here is a link to an interview I did with Harry Smith over at CBS; it covers the basic details and verifies that I'm not as crazy as some people say I am!

Five minutes isn't nearly enough to cover all the details; it surely isn't enough to talk about all the things that went through my mind as I paddled those 10 hours to get to the rig (14 miles offshore).

Anyway, to kill time as I stroked my way to safety, I must have sung the theme song to Gilligans Island 20 times. I even started to imagine that Tina Louise would meet me on the beach (didn't happen).

But the biggest thing I did was to remember the episode of Magnum P.I. (circa 1983) where Thomas got swept out into the Molokai Channel one July 4th. He was knocked off his paddleboard by a stupid speedboat and couldn't catch up to it as it drifted away. 

As he is treading water for almost 24 hours, he flashes back to the time he was about 10 years old and his dad taught him to survive in the family pool. As an incentive, he promised him a GMT Pepsi if he could survive a 12 hour ordeal. I think it took him 2 tries, but he finally managed to pull it off and he got the watch! That memory somehow helped him survive being adrift off Oahu! Sometime later, TC and the boys spotted him from the famous multi-colored helicopter and flew him to safety.

Flash forward to 2009. As I am struggling to reach the oil rig, I dream that if I make it to safety, I will get to wear a GMT Pepsi of my own someday. I thought about it again the next morning as the helicopter flew me back to the beach.

It must have worked, because today, I'm sitting here typing up this little episode of my own. And, back in February of this year, I located a 1981 GMT Master (with the obligatory Pepsi bezel) and wired the funds. I wear it proudly on special occasions and boast to everyone on why I have it:

I EARNED it !"

Tom Selleck wore a Pepsi Rolex GMT Master on his 1980s hit TV show, Magnum PI, and you can learn much more about Tom Selleck's life with wearing Rolex on Jake's Rolex World.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Why Rolex Watches Are The Most Reputable Consumer Products In The World According To Industry Study

Why Rolex Watches Are The Most Reputable Consumer Products In The World According To Industry Study

By Ariel Adams

My pal, Ariel Adams is the founding editor and publisher of A Blog To Watch, and he recently wrote an article for Forbes named "Why Rolex Watches Are The Most Reputable Consumer Products In the World According To Industry Study."

I really enjoyed reading Ariel's highly informative article that points out that Rolex is tied with the BMW Group for second place on the Global RepTrak 100 World's Most Reputable Companies, just behind the two companies that tied for first place, which are The Walt Disney Company, and Google. Sony took fifth place, Canon 6th place, Apple in 7th place, Daimler (Mercedes-Benz) in eight place, Lego in ninth, and Samsung and Microsoft tied for tenth place.

Ariel Adams profoundly pointed out: "My own observations find that many consumers view a Rolex timepiece an item to reward themselves with upon achieving some level of personal success. That is distinct from a mere status item, which is about a consumer wearing or owning something that communicates success to others. No doubt many consumers are interested in showing off their perceived success to others, but what makes a Rolex product unique is that many consumers feel owning one is a personal gift to themselves. That suggests a very high-level of reputation and deep personal relationship consumers have with what a Rolex product means to them emotionally, as opposed to its strict utilitarian value as a timepiece or jewelry item."

I highly recommend reading Ariel's fascinating article on Forbes, named Why Rolex Watches Are The Most Reputable Consumer Products In The World According To Industry Study.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Complete History Of the "California Dial"

...California Dreaming...

The Complete History Of The

 "California Dial"

Rolex Myth Buster

On The Curious Case Of The California Dial

This article will dispell two false myths regarding the so called "Califorinia Dial". The first myth suggested the California dial was used in a Panerai Prototype in 1936. This is comletely untrue, and you can learn why by visiting  

Rolex used to make watches with Art-Deco styled dials that were really distinct. These dials featured an upside down triangle for the 12 indices, and rectangular indices at 3, 6, and 9. The 1, 2, 10 & 11 markers used Roman numerals, and the 4, 5, 7, and 8 markers used Arabic numerals.

For years, people have referred to these unusual dials as "California dials" and people ask me all the time why the California Dial is called, "The California Dial." In other words, what does it have to do with California? The photo below was taken by Harsam of his 1943 Rolex Bubbleback, which has an original Art Deco "California" dial.

The photo below shows a beautiful Rolex Art-Deco poster which features a "California Dial" with Radium Innovation. Radium was the first type of luminescent material used to make dials glow in the dark.

In the photo below we see another two Rolex Art-Deco bubble-backs, and the one on the left has a white California dial.

Rolex "Bubble-Back" models are called this, because Rolex used to try and make watch cases look as thin as possible to try to hide the large, rounded case backs which concealed the large automatic winding rotor, and they achieved this by giving the watches convexed backs, which made them sit up proud on the wrist. 

Today, most Rolex watches have completely flat-backs, which I would argue make them lay flatter and fit better on the wrist.

1942 World War II 
Rolex U.S.A. Christmas Message

The Rolex Christmas ad seen below was published in the United States in 1942, and if you look closely you will see a "California Dial" Rolex in the center of the row of Rolex watches at the bottom of the ad.

1942 World War II 
French Rolex Ads 

1943 Swiss Magazine Ad
Rolex Bubbleback

The image below is from a Swiss magazine that was published in 1943 and it shows a beautiful Rolex Bubbleback with a classic California dial, with Lake Geneva shown in the background. This watch was a harbinger for the magnificent art-deco design language that would evolve a decade later into the Submariner and GMT-MASTER.

Pictured below, we see yet another Rolex Advertisement which is from 1945.

The Rolex magazine ad pictured above reads:


The figures and divisional signs are deeply recessed and filled with stong luminous compound.

Fully winds itself automatically and silently by 6 hours normal wear on the wrist. If wanted it can also be wound by hand in case of illness. No shocks nor vibration disturb its precision. Superlative finish of every detail. In addition to constant and even tension of mainspring-power, contribute and facilitate the obtaining of almost unbelievable regularity in precision timekeeping. Every one of these self-winding chronometer wrist-watches is now supplied exclusively with a Swiss Official Timing certificate and impartial document of quality and highest precision. Montres Rolex

Below is a similar 1945 Rolex ad, but this one is in Spanish:

Panerai "California" Dial
In the entire course of history, Rolex never made any watches for any brand in the world, with one exception, and this was for an Italian manufacture named Panerai. The vintage Panerai watches were never made available to the public because Panerai made them at the time exclusively for the Royal Italian Navy. These special watches were a military secret at the time.

There was a persistent myth that suggested the very first Panerai production models, which were made between 1936 and 1938 featured the Art-Decom masterpiece "California" Dial as seen in the photo below. This is NOT TRUE. These watches were actually made in 1944.

The Rolex made Reference 3646 pictured below is a highly collectible watch today, and it is unusual in the sense it has no brand designation on the dial. 

Not only was this the first Rolex made diving watch in history, but it also was the basis of what would go on to become the most iconic watch ever made in history, which was the Rolex Submariner. You can always learn more about the Rolex/Panerai connection on Jake's Panerai World.

The "California" Dial Nomenclature

Rolex Patent Application

June 15, 1942

Rolex applied for a patent for this special dial on May 30, 1941, and the patent was granted on June 15, 1942, as seen in the patent application below. So where id the name, "California Dial" come from? 

The patent application pictured above, when translated from French to English says:

The object of the present invention is a timepiece dial. This dial is characterized in that it comprises hourly signs constituted by Roman numerals and others by Arabic numerals. 

The accompanying drawing shows, by way of example, four embodiments of the object of the present invention. 

FIG. 1 is a plane of the first embodiment. Figs. 2, 3 and 4 are small-scale planes, the second, respectively the third and fourth embodiments. 

The dial of FIG. 1 is a round dial with an hour circle with twelve signs, one for each hour. The signs for hours 10 and 11 and 1 and 2 are Roman numerals, those for hours 4 and 5 and 7 and 8 by Arabic numerals and those corresponding to noon6 o'clock3 o'clock and 9 o'clock, By simple geometrical elements, namely a triangle and three horizontal sticks.

It will be seen that this layout gives a clear and simple turn of the hours, easy to realize with luminous material and allowing an easy reading of the time especially for wristwatch boxes whose dials are relatively small. In fact, the fact that the Roman numerals occupy half the dial and the Arabic numerals the other, clearly distinguishes these two halves. In addition, the Roman numerals chosen are those which are the simplest to perform and the easiest to read.

In the other three embodiments, the hourly sign corresponding to time 5 is constituted by the corresponding Roman numeral and the hourly sign corresponding to 6 hours is constituted by a very short vertical line. In the embodiment of FIG. 2, the sign corresponding to noon, is indicated by a vertical line, in that of fig. 3, by two vertical lines and, in that of FIG. 4, by a short stroke surmounted by a half-circumference. Of course, the aforementioned provisions could be applied to dials of a shape other than round and other arrangements would still be possible


Dial of timepiece, characterized in that it comprises hourly signs co-located by roman numerals and others by arabic numerals. 


1. Dial according to claim 1, characterized in that it comprises: In addition, time symbols constituted by triangular geometrical elements.
2. The dial as claimed in claim 1, wherein the symbols corresponding to the hours 10 and 11 and 1 and 2 are constituted by Roman numerals.
3. Dial according to claim 4, characterized in that the signs corresponding to Hours 4, 7 and 8 are Arabic signs.
4. Dial according to claims 1 to 3, characterized in that the corresponding 5-hour sign is the corresponding Roman numeral.
5. Dial according to claim 1, characterized in that the remaining digits are constituted by geometrical elements.
6. Dial according to claims 1 to 3, characterized in that the sign corresponding to 5 hours is constituted by the corresponding Arabic numeral.
7. Dial according to claim 6, characterized in that the remaining signs are constituted by the geometric elements.

MONTRES ROLEX S. A. Mandataire A. BUGNION, Genève.

1941 Art-Deco Rolex Viceroy

This is a World War II circa Rolex Viceroy with an Art-Deco California Dial. The California dial has Roman numerals on the top and Arabic numerals on the bottom.

Photo Credit: Padi56

The "Semi-California" Dial

So where exactly did the Rolex "California Dial" design come from? Nobody knows for certain, but we can study the history of the design language. 

The Semi-California (seen above and below) has the upside-down triangle at 12 o'clock, coupled with the triangle markers at 3, 6, and 9, along with the 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10 and 11 markers in Arabic. 

Adam took the photo below of three Rolex Speedking bubble-back models that were made between 1944 and 1945, and on the far left we see an model with a standard Arabic numeral dial, next we see what is commonly referred to in Rolex collector parlance as the Rolex "Semi-California Dial."  Then on the far right we see a standard California Dial with the Roman Numerals on the top with Arabic Numerals on the bottom.

When carefully studying the visual differences between the three Rolex SpeedKing models pictured above, I could not help but notice that the "California Dial" version on the right is the most stylized, and it is the only one with the closed "train track" chapter ring that runs around the outer perimeter of the dial, and it is also the only one with the blued and highly stylized hands which include the "Mercedes" logo on the hour hand, coupled with the hour hand that has a pyramid on the end. In other words, the California dial version has the boldest Art-Deco style details, which make it really pop!

Update #1

A reader named Tommy wrote in response to this and said:


I think the "California" dial may have it's origins with the Melrose Avenue shops in L.A.

The dials became very popular during the bubbleback craze of the 80's.  Many of the refinished dials being done for watches that these shops sold were half-and-half dials because they were so "deco" and were so popular with the people buying bubblebacks. 

I think L.A. dealers were seeking those dials ON bubblebacks that they were buying and selling in their shops and so they became known as "California" dials because the California dealers were looking for them at shows elsewhere in the country.  The people at the shows began referring to them as "California" because it's what the guys from California were looking for.

All is speculation but of course the term is only showing after the 80's.

The dial is really a half-Roman and half-Arabic dial, and that is how I have always referred to it. I never liked the term "California" because it was really irrelevant.

Another interesting variant is the all arabic with the triangle 12 marker. This is often referred to as...of all things  "semi California".



Update #2

I came across somebody who quoted James Dowling as saying:

"The dial was patented by Rolex in 1941 and used by them on manual and automatic watches for about 7 or 8 years. It was known by Rolex as the 'High visibility" dial, as it used quite large luminous numbers. 

In the 1970s, when the vintage watch boom started, a LA based dial refinisher, Kirk Rich, did some dials with this design. They became popular & many vintage watch stores in California sent their dials to KR. So dealers in the rest of the US & the rest of the world began to call them the 'California' dial."

Update #3

I came across somebody who said:

Rolex created the “Cali Dial” for it's various distributors and it became a fashion icon of high demand in California in the 30's-40's – hence the name. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Rolex Super Hotness: Emily Scott Super Leggy Model from The Land Down-Under...

...Rolex Super Hotness...

Emily Scott
Super Leggy Model
from The Land Down-Under

Summer is on its way in the Norther Hemisphere and it seems like things have been on the serious side on Jake's Rolex World for a while, so it's time to lighten-up a little! What time is it? It's time for some Rolex Hotness! I would like to dedicate this post to my pal Steve (LOL-X) who owns and runs Emily Scott is from Australia and she is gorgeous!!!! In this first image we see her wearing a Rolex Submariner. Can you say "Youuuuuuuuuuch!!!!"

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Rolex Studio Shot of the Day: Rolex Thunderbird by Kokota...

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

Rolex Thunderbird by Kokota

Monday, April 14, 2014

Rolex Appoints New CEO

Rolex Appoints New CEO

Jean-Frédéric Dufour

Today is a historic Rolex day. For only the sixth time in history, the torch has been passed to a new Rolex CEO, and for the first time in history, Rolex is bringing on-board a CEO from OUTSIDE the company. This is profound since Rolex has ALWAYS promoted internally. Perhaps this is a sign the Rolex board want to mix things up a little bit.

Today Rolex appointed a new Rolex CEO. His name is Jean-Frédéric Dufour, and he was previously the CEO of Zénith. If you are not familiar with Zénith, they used to make the chronograph movements for the Rolex Daytona, before Rolex began manufacturing them in-house. Jean-Frédéric Dufour will be replacing Rolex's CEO, Gian Riccardo Marini. On behalf of the readership of Jake's Rolex World, I would like to wish Jean-Frédéric Dufour, nothing but Godspeed on his fantastic new journey!

Benjamin Clymer from Hodinkee interviewd Jean-Frédéric Dufour in 2011 as seen below.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Hodinkee Reference Points... The Rolex Paul Newman Daytona

...Hodinkee Reference Points...
The Rolex Paul Newman Daytona

My pal, Benjamin Clymer from Hodinkee just posted a superb article which covers all the Exotic Dial "Paul Newman" Daytona models from Andrew Shear's collection. I highly recommend checking out the excellent article on Hodinkee, which is Superb!

You can alway learn much more about the Paul Newman Daytona by checking out The Complete History Of The Paul Newman Daytona story, and you can also learn much more about the The Complete History Of The Rolex Daytona Cosmograph.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sir Edmund Hillary & Tenzing Norgay On Top Of The World

...Rolex Super-Coolness...

Sir Edmund Hillary & Tenzing Norgay
On Top Of The World

Sir Edmund Hillary is pictured below wearing the navy blue parka and his quote as seen below is profoundly true. Tenzing Norgay is pictured below wearing his gold parka. Tenzing was a supreme climber, and he also said something really profound that has resonated with me for may years. Tenzing Norgay said:

 "It is the ultimate wisdom of the mountains that a man is never more of a man, than when he is reaching for something just out of his grasp." –Tenzing Norgay

Below is a copy of the very first Rolex Mount Everest Ad which was published 3 days after Mount Everest was conquered. You can learn much more about Rolex conquering Mount Everest in 1953 by exploring my article named "Rolex Conquers Mount Everest–The Complete History."

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Rolex Coolness: John Huston Stainless Steel Rolex Oyster Quartz Datejust

...Academy Award Winning Director...

...Rolex Coolness...

John Huston
Apple Think Different Poster

Stainless Steel Rolex Oyster Quartz Datejust

Movie directing legend, John Huston is pictured below in a vintage Apple "Think Different" Poster, sporting his stainless steel Rolex Oyster Quartz. This vintage Apple poster may become ironically prescient in several weeks, when Apple CEO, Tim Cook will likely showcase their iWatch smartphone platform at the WWDC Keynote in San Francisco, at the Moscone Center.

You also have to wonder what role Rolex may or may not play in smart watches in the future. The supreme irony in this poster is that John Huston appears in an Apple "Think Different" poster, and he is wearing a Rolex OysterQuartz, and of course Rolex and the entire Swiss watch industry was caught way off guard in the last major round of smart watch history, when the Swiss watch consortium that included Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Omega developed quartz watch technology in Switzerland, under the Beta 21 program, and then failed to take implementation action. 

The Japanese watch industry ended up wreaking havoc on the Swiss Watch industry. So it appears the Swiss watch industry is slated to undergo another major revolution with this newest round of smart watches, so one can't help but wonder how Rolex will redact this time around. As they say, time will tell. 

John Huston's career achievements were amazing and he directed many movies which are now considered classic, like, The Maltese Falcon (1941), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), Key Largo (1948), The Asphalt Jungle (1950), The African Queen (1951), Moulin Rouge (1952), Moby Dick (1956), The Misfits (1960), The Man Who Would Be King (1975) and Prizzi's Honor (1985). 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Mario Andretti & Paul Newman

UPDATE (December 4, 2017): I wrote a significant update to this story that revealed Paul Newman was actually wearing a Rolex Daytona on his Rolex President Bracelet:

...Rolex Double Super-Coolness...

Mario Andretti & Paul Newman
Rolex Day-Dates

This is an interesting story. First, we see a 1976 Mario Andretti Rolex ad that features the Rolex Day-Date, which I have never published before today.

Next we see a photo of Paul Newman shaking hands with his good pal, Mario Andretti.

Paul Newman Rolex Day-Date!?!?!?

I was shocked when I looked closely at this photo taken in 1988 at the Indianapolis 500, and noticed Paul Newman wearing a Platinum or White Gold Rolex Day-Date.

Why was I shocked? Because Paul Newman is renowned for wearing at least five different Rolex Daytona models, as well as having worn a stainless steel Rolex Datejust, which I documented in detail in "The Complete History Of The Paul Newman Daytona". This new photograph shows him rockin' a Rolex Day-Date, which is very cool...

Just to reiterate, I was shocked to discover the photo of Paul Newman wearing his Rolex Day-Date on his "President" bracelet because like so many of my readers, I am used to seeing iconic photo, like the one below, of him wearing his trademark Rolex Daytona. It is interesting to note that I have never seen a photo of him wearing a yellow gold Rolex. He only wore stainless steel, white gold and platinum.