Saturday, June 27, 2020

Spy Pilot: Gary Powers' Datejust 1601


"So, how are you doing?" I was on the phone with Gary Powers Jr., the son of the famous U-2 pilot shot down at 70,000 feet over the Soviet Union during the Cold War. We were just a couple of hours before his dad's Rolex was being auctioned in Geneva. "I'm a nervous wreck," he tells me. I laughed, then I told him I'd call back and check on him after the auction.

(Courtesy: Powers Family Collection)

As a Delta pilot, I have flown with a few former U-2 pilots. The Dragon Lady, the nickname for the spy plane, is still in service, one of the few military jets that has been in service for more than half a century. 

My pilot friends tell me about the long missions in the small cockpit, but especially how hard it is to land the U-2. "You have to stall the wings just a few feet above the runway or you'll overshoot the runway," one told me. "You are literally falling out of the skies every time you come back from a mission."

(Courtesy: Powers Family Collection)

Above, U-2 designer Kelly Johnson with Gary Powers. The jet was born under secrecy in what would become Area 51, when Eisenhower was growing nervous over Soviet technological advances. For me, Gary Powers is a true hero. He resigned his commission from the U.S. Air Force to join the CIA program and fly deep into the USSR. He was recently immortalized in the blockbuster Steven Spielberg film, “Bridge of Spies.” He was also portrayed by actor Lee Majors. 

Gary Powers was awarded the Prisoner of War Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the National Defense Service Medal, the CIA's coveted Director's Medal for extreme fidelity and extraordinary courage in the line of duty. He was also awarded the Silver Star medal for "demonstrating exceptional loyalty while enduring harsh interrogation in the Lubyanka Prison in Moscow for almost two years." 

Most of his medals were awarded posthumously, unfortunately. Few know that he accomplished one last heroic act before he died in a helicopter crash in California in 1977, when he worked for a TV station.

When power is lost to an engine, helicopter pilots are trained to autorotate, meaning to use upward flow of air through the rotor to land without crashing the helo. As Gary Powers used aerodynamic forces to slow the fall, he noticed children playing in the area, and he directed the helo elsewhere to avoid landing on them. Experts believe he might have landed safely if not for the last-second deviation, which compromised his autorotative descent.

The world didn't know about his Rolex, pictured above, until his son decided to put it up for auction, exactly 60 years after he was shot down over the Soviet skies. 

After two years in prison camp in the Soviet Union, Gary Powers, who had been sentenced for 10 years, is traded on a foggy morning on a bridge in Germany. A few months after he comes back to the U.S., in 1962, he uses the money the CIA paid him and buys himself a Rolex Datejust. Powers had found a new appreciation for life and freedom. 

"He owned other watches but the Rolex is the one he preferred and wore as daily use," Gary Powers Jr. tells me. 

(Courtesy: Powers Family Collection)

(Courtesy: Powers Family Collection)

The Datejust is a reference 1601, 14-kt gold in 36mm, with jubilee bracelet. "My wrist is a little bit bigger than my dad's, so it was too tight," he said. "So for me, it was an easy decision to let it go after all these years." The Rolex comes with original box and papers.

Gary Powers Jr. co-founded in 1996 the Cold War Museum in Warrenton, Virginia, which spans the end of World War II to the disbandment of the Soviet Union, including the time his dad was taking photos of military installations from the sky. The Americans believed that the U-2 was nearly invincible against the Soviets, since it traveled at high altitudes. What they didn’t know is that the USSR had developed a new surface-to-air missile capable of reaching the U-2's heights. 

Above, Aurel Bacs of Phillips is about to award Powers' Rolex to a British bidder on Saturday, June 27, 2020. When I call Gary back, after the auction, he said he is happy for the person who will own the watch. "It's been sitting in a closet for the last 40 years, gathering dust," he tells me. "I was very comfortable putting it up for auctions and letting the new owner enjoy it."

The auction closed at 38,000 CHF, or $40,000—not bad for a 36-mm Datejust. When I finally asked Gary Powers Jr. if he owned a Rolex, he responded no. He has owned some pilot watches, he said. But only Russian ones.

Friday, June 26, 2020

SKY-DWELLER: Rolex Macro Shot of the Day....

...Rolex Macro Shot of the Day... 


42MM Stainless Steel

These close-up macro images from Rolex's Official Instagram page of the released stainless steel and white gold 42MM Sky-Dweller. If you ever wondered what makes a Rolex a Rolex, just look at the amazing precision and design detail in this stunning images!!!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Glenn Campbell: Legendary Country Music Musician

...Rolex Super Coolness...

Glen Campbell

Legendary Country Music Musician


Summer is finally here in the United States, which conjures up images of beach fun, barbecue and some good old-fashioned country music, so I thought it would be fun to take a look back at Glen Campbell who passed away a few years ago in 2017. Legendary Country musician and former Beach Boy, Glenn Campbell passed away at age 81 in Nashville, Tennessee. Glenn had an amazing career that lasted more than a half century, and he wore a Rolex Day-Date to keep the time of his life. Glenn Campbell unfortunately developed Alzheimers toward the end of his life...

Glen Campbell is pictured below in 1969 wearing a Rolex Big Crown Submariner.

Glen Campbell is pictured below on the cover of his 1984 album titled, "Letter To Home".

On the album cover below for Glen Campbell's album titled Arkansas, which was released in 1975, we see him proudly sporting his Rolex Day-Date with a champagne dial.

Glenn Campbell's daughter, Ashley Campbell posted the photo below on her Facebook page just after her father passed away and said:

"Heartbroken. I owe him everything I am, and everything I ever will be. He will be remembered so well and with so much love." —Ashley Campbell

It appears in the photo above that Glenn Campbell's daughter, Ashley Campbell is wearing his yellow gold Rolex Day-Date.

Below we see a video of Ashley Campbell and her father Glen Campbell in 2012 playing Dueling Banjos, with Glen on guitar.

In the video below we see Glen Campbell and Roy Clark playing 'Ghost Riders In The Sky'. Glen Campbell and Roy Clark were to of the best country guitar players in history.

Beach Boys


Glen Campbell (pictured below on the left) toured with the Beach Boys in 1964 and replaced Brian Wilson. 

Glen Campbell was a session guitarist for the Beach Boys, and he played on hits such as Fun, Fun, Fun, and Dance, Dance, Dance. He also played on Pet Sounds. Glenn Campbell is pictured below with Carl Wilson.

Glenn Campbell is pictured below on the far right with The Beach Boys. 

Beach boys lead singer, Mike Love, who is pictured below (second from the left) wrote on his Facebook page and said, "I've never met a more talented person in all the years we have been in the music business and never had a better time on tour than the time spent with Glen."

Glenn Campbell was good friends with Elvis Presley, and is pictured below with Elvis and Pricilla Presley.

In the video below which originally aired on May 25, 1981, we see Glen Campbell performing one of his biggest hits, "Rhinestone Cowboy", and he is wearing his trademark Rolex Day-Date.

In the video below recorded live in Dublin on May 1, 1981 Glen Campbell covers David Loggins song "Please Come To Boston" which is an amazing song.

In the photo below, we see Glen Campbell on State with Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, during performance by the Highwaymen.

I was talking to my good pal, Stan Barrett and he mentioned he read this Glen Campbell story and enjoyed it very much. He said he thought it was very thorough and comprehensive. Then he said, "But I think you left out a key video". I asked Stan which video that was, and he mentioned that it was the last song Glen Campbell recorded and it was called "I'm Not Gonna Miss You". Then Stan warned my and said, "If you watch the video it will probably make you cry." It did :-( 

Stan Barrett also mentioned he once met Glen Campbell back in June of 1964, which was just before Glen joined the Beach Boys. He recalled that Glen Campbell was a really nice guy and mentioned that he recalled that Glen really began his career doing demos for songs.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Every Rolex Tells A Story: Alain Hubert

Every Rolex Tells A Story

Alain Hubert

A True Rolex Explorer

Alain Hubert is the real deal. He is a Belgian explorer, who is certified polar and mountain guide. He is also the President of the Board and one of the founders of The International Polar Foundation. 

Alain is responsible for obtaining the financing and as well as fro the construction of the 'Princess Elisabeth' scientific research station in Antartica, which is first 'zero emission' station. This station was designed and built under the spirit of the Madrid Protocol, which was established in 1992 to the strictest environmental rules.

Alain was the first Belgian to reach the North Pole, which he achieved in 1994 with Didier Goetghebuer. In 1998 the team set a world record crossing in the entire continent of Antartica all by themselves. It took them 99 days and they covered 3924 miles.

Rolex just released this new "Every Rolex Tells A Story" video on legendary Belgian Explorer Alain Hubert, which is fascinating.

During Alain Hubert's expeditions he became shocked with the scope and pace of climate change, and has dedicated his life energy to overcoming this challenge. The very cool 2004 Rolex ads below features Alain Hubert along with his trusted BFFL Rolex Explorer II, which he still wears.

If you want to learn more about Alain Hubert's International Polar Foundation check out their amazing video collection.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Nadia Comăneci: The First Perfect 10

...Rolex Super Hotness...

Nadia Comăneci

The First Perfect 10

1976 Montreal Olympics

Stainless Steel Rolex Daytona

Nadia Comaneci is considered to be on of the greatest Olympic athletes in history. At the age of 14, in 1976, she stepped into history as she became the first gymnast to be awarded a perfect score of 10.0. She went on in that Olympics to win seven perfect 10 scores in the 1976 Olympics, thus winning three gold Olympic medals. At the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, Nadia wood two gold medals. Nadia is one of the most famous gymnasts in the world, and is widely credited for popularizing gymnastics internationally.

Hard work has made it easy. That is my secret. That is why I win. 

Nadia Comăneci

In the photo above, we see Nadia wearing her stainless steel Rolex Daytona. You have got to watch Nadia's 1976 Olympic performance in the video below. She is absolutely amazing!!!

Friday, June 19, 2020

Hot Fun In The Summertime: Bernhard's Tudor Heritage

Hot Fun In The Summertime
Bernhard's Tudor Heritage Chronograph

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Lex Barker Rolex Collection: From Tarzan to La Dolce Vita...

Lex Barker
Kept Time With Rolex

Lex Barker was an international movie star. He played Tarzan in 5 movies, was very popular in Europe and was in the famous Fedrico Fellini movie, "La Doce Vita." Lex was married to Lana Turner.

Lex Barker wore a yellow gold Rolex Day-Date as we seen in the picture above and below.

Lex Barker also wore a stainless steel Rolex Submariner as we see in the next two photos.

Nick Gould discovered the photo below of Lex Barker wearing his stainless steel Rolex Submariner.

Lex Barker joined the U.S. Army in February 1941, nearly a year before the attack on Pearl Harbor and rose to the rank of major during the war. He was 6'3 and 208 lbs. He was injured in action while fighting in Sicily and after he recuperated in 1945 he left the army to return back to Los Angeles to pursue his acting career. We see Lex in the photo below wearing what is clearly a U.S. Naval uniform, which was a publicity photo for a movie in which he played the role of an officer named Away All Boats

Lex Barker was in many movies in the United States, but is most famous for playing Tarzan. 

I never realized that Tarzana, California is named so after the Tarzan movies, but I discovered this fact while doing research for this story. I am learning all kinds of interesting things by writing about the history of Rolex!!!

In Tarzan's Magic Fountain, Lex Barker became the tenth official Tarzan in the movies.

Lex also starred in many Westerns. In 1957 he moved to Europe (he spoke French, Italian, Spanish and German) where he became a huge star. He starred in over forty European movies. 
He is pictured above wearing a Stainless Rolex Submariner.

Lex is pictured above with Sidney Poitier in Hollywood.

Lex Barker is pictured below in Fedrico Fellini's "La Dolce Vita" which is Italian for "The Good Life." He is pictured below with Anita Ekberg where he plays her fiancé.

Lex Barker is pictured below wearing his Yellow Gold Rolex Day-Date.