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)

I have known 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.

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.

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

Monday, June 15, 2020

Phillips Auction House 1987 Triple Date Moonphase Auction

Phillips Auction House

1987 Triple Date Moonphase Auction

Gustavo @RolexTudorPlanet sent in this wonderful sent of images from the Phillips New York Auction house from April 7, 1987.

Gustavo wrote:

Dear Jake,

I’m sending you some pictures of a Phillips auction catalogue from 1987 depicting a very beautiful Rolex Moonphase “Padellone” ref 8171 that you may want to use in your great Moonphase post. 

I like better the Ref 6202 Oyster version, however 8171s are harder to find in vintage literature. Here one in gorgeous condition featuring a gold and ebony wood bracelet, hardly seen!

Also on the back cover there is a Ref 6202 Stelline with a redone dial, which shows how little attention was put into this detail back then. 

The 8171 carried an estimate of 10,000-12,000 USD and the 6202 9,000-11,000 USD.



I love examining these old Rolex auctions which are often times shocking as to how much lower the prices were back then. Can you imagine paying only $10K for a triple date Rolex moon-phase? I just added these new images to my story named, "The Complete History of the Rolex Moonphase."

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Adrienne Vittadini 1997 Rolex Explorer Ad

Adrienne Vittadini

1997 Rolex Explorer Ad

Since we just looked at the vintage 1968 Rolex Explorer magazine ad I thought it would be interesting to look at this one from 30 years later. I remember seeing this Adrienne Vittadini ad 23 years ago, in 1997, and it only took me nine years to find it in high-resolution?!! This is a fairly major piece of Rolex history, and it is probably the first Rolex advertisement that shows a woman wearing a man's 40mm Rolex...

Adrienne Vittadini is an American designer who was born Adrienne Toth in 1944. Andrienne's father was a physician and a staunch anticommunist and was a supporter of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Below we see a photo of Adrienne Vittadini taken in 2018 and, notice, she is wearing a stainless steel Rolex Daytona with a white dial...

In this next photo taken in 2012, we see Adrienne wearing a Lady-Datejust... 

Petter from Hungary wrote in and said:

Hey Jake,

Just saw your post on the blog about Adrienne Vittadini. She was born in Győr - Hungary, my hometown.

Lovely little place, have a look :)

Kind regards,


Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Chapter 2: Cary Grant Was The Real James Bond

Cary Grant 

Discovered Wearing Rolex in Charade!!!

This is such big news I had to borrow Hodinkee's BREAKING NEWS header again!?!! This is a really interesting story. Over the past decade the only person I was NEVER able to discover wearing a Rolex that I really wanted to see wearing a Rolex was Cary Grant. Why? In my opinion, Cary Grant is probably the greatest actor that ever lived!

Recently my dream came true when a reader of Jake's Rolex World wrote in and said:

Hello Jake,

In your excellent examination of Grant as Ian Fleming’s model for Bond, you ask “Can you imagine Cary Grant wearing a Rolex Submariner?.” I think he actually wore a Rolex in “Charade.”  

"If you have a Hi-Def copy of that film, check out the scene around 4 minutes into the movie where Cary Grant kneels in the hotel to spool thread to the door."

It's hard to tell exactly what Rolex model Cary Grant is wearing in the screen shot above. At first my best guess from what we can see is Gary is wearing a 35MM 1962 Rolex  Oyster Rolex Star Dial 'Galaxy' model [Reference 6426] with leaf/sword hands as pictured below which appears courtesy of Robert Maron.

Nick Gould shared his best guess and said he thought it might be the Rolex Oyster Royal seen below which makes sense at the 15 and 30 minute markers are clearly heavier in weight than the 5, 10, 20 & 25 minute markers.

The reader who discovered the watch also thought it might be a Rolex Oyster Royal as pictured below. If you look closely at the wrist shot of Cary Grant's watch pictured below notice the 5 minute marker seems to be elongated, so it is possible the 5, 10, 20 & 25 minute markers are all elongated but the way the light hit the watch over exposed them and blew them out.

I shared this amazing discovery with Jose and he pinged me back and said, "Cary Grant points to his Rolex when he is in the shower scene wearing his suit in the trailer and says "Waterproof!?!!", which you can see below at 2:20 into the trailer video.

It's interesting to note, as wee see in the movie poster below from the 1964 James Bond movie named "Goldfinger" which shows actors Sean Connery and Honor Blackman posing in an overlay over the woman painted in gold, that we see James Bond with his arm wrapped around the Pussy Galore character while he is pointing a gun.

Charade was filmed and premiered in 1963, a year earlier than Goldfinger which premiered in 1964, so once again we see that the James Bond franchise copied this identical pose.

I just updated this story with the revelation above that Cary Grant wore a Rolex which I just added to my original "Cary Grant Was The Real James Bond" story which can be seen below.

...The James Bond Rolex Story...

The Complete History Of James Bond Watches
Including ALL Watches Worn In All James Bond Movies
The Definitive Guide

Chapter 2: Cary Grant Was The Real James Bond

Some people will tell you that Sean Connery is the only real James Bond, but the truth is that Cary Grant was the first, best and only real James Bond. I probably just completely confused you, but bear with me.

Ian Fleming said he based the James Bond character on Cary Grant. If you truly want to understand James Bond, you must understand the archetype for Bond, and that is Cary Grant.

Cary Grant made a movie in 1955, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, named North by Northwest which was an action, adventure, mystery, thriller– just like James Bond. In North by Northwest Cary Grant did many of his own stunts.

If James Bond was real what would he look like?

He would be tall, dark, handsome, debonaire, articulate, stylish, athletic, elegant and very masculine. Most of all he would be a gentle man–and Cary Grant was the perfect gentle man. Many people mistake gentility for weakness, but the truth is that it takes great strength to be gentle. Anybody can be rough, but not everybody can be gentle.

Cary Grant is–to this day–the personification of masculine timeless style, grace, and elegance.

The Pre James Bond, James Bond Movies

There are 4 seminal Cary Grant movies that informally develop the foundation for the James Bond character. Let's take a look at each of these thrillers to best understand the genesis of the James Bond character.

The first three Cary Grant movies were produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Alfred Hitchcock was the absolute master of suspense. In effect, Hitchcock really created the suspense genre, and certainly perfected it. The combination of Cary Grant and Alfred Hitchcock was incredible!!!

Notorious [1946]

Cary Grant started making highly suspenseful, action-thriller, mystery, adventure movies with Alfred Hitchcock like Notorious in 1946. It has been speculated that Ian Fleming was highly inspired to create the James Bond character based on Cary Grant playing Devlin in Notorious in 1946.

In Notorious, Cary Grant plays a government agent and you see him here looking suave and debonair in his tuxedo. Of course you have a plot with espionage and a gorgeous woman played by Ingrid Bergman. Look familiar? Look like James Bond!?!?

Of course the secret agent is a ladies man. This movie, more than any else is perhaps the genesis for the James Bond character.

To Catch A Thief [1955]

In 1955, Cary Grant made another action-thriller with Hitchcock, named To Catch A Thief. Cary Grant played a retired jewel thief named John Robee, whose nickname was The Cat. The stunningly gorgeous Grace Kelly co-starred with Grant. In many ways, his role in this movie was also very James Bond-like.

The chemistry between Cary Grant and Grace Kelly was unmistakable and truly positioned the ultimate male with the ultimate female. To Catch A Thief has all the trappings of a James Bond movie, including suspense, intrigue, fast cars, romance and a lot of sneaking around in the dark.

The theme of the established, successful, debonaire older man with the younger female hotness is a constant theme in James Bond. Also, Cary Grant had a British accent, as do all the figures who played James Bond.

Believe it or not, Burt Reynolds was offered the role of James Bond after Sean Connery retired the role, and turned it down saying that he thought James Bond should have a British accent. Burt later went on to say it was the greatest blunder of his acting career.

Houseboat [1958]

Cary Grant starred in Houseboat with the strikingly gorgeous Sophia Loren in 1958. The movie was a comedy, but once again you see Cary looking like Bond in the photo below. Cary Grant and Sophia Loren made a previous movie named The Pride & The Passion. While shooting The Pride & The Passion, Cary and Sophia had a whirlwind affair and fell in love.

Cary asked Sophia to marry him, but she decided to marry her longtime lover, Italian director, Carlo Ponti. Sophia later said she married Carlo because they were both Italian and she felt they were better culturally matched. Cary Grant was heartbroken and if you watch the scene closely in Houseboat where they get married, you can see it was a bittersweet experience for both of them.

As I mentioned, Houseboat was a comedy. Cary Grant is considered by many to be the greatest actor that ever lived because he was so versatile. Some of Cary Grant's great comedies include, His Girl Friday, Arsenic & Old Lace, and Monkey Business. Cary modeled his comedic skills after W.C. Feilds, who was very funny, but the opposite of Cary Grant in the looks department.

North By Northwest [1959]

North by Northwest was another James-Bond-like movie with secret government agents and lots of intrigue. The opening credits as seen below were designed by the famous graphic artist, Saul Bass.

The famous airplane chase scene was pure James Bond with Cary Grant doing his own stunts. Cary Grant was part of a British gymnastic group when he was 18 that traveled to the United States. Cary Grant's given name was Archibald Leach and by the time he made it to Hollywood he was rebranded as Cary Grant.

Imagine that!!!?!?!? The single worst name a man could have–Archibald Leach–changed to the most elegant name in history–Cary Grant.

Cary Grant was great with doing his own stunts because he always maintained his athletic, trim physique by working-out regularly.

The photo of Cary Grant with his beautiful co-star, Eva Marie Saint is pure James Bond. Notice he is kissing her and she is sticking him with the gun. My favorite line from North by Northwest was when Cary and Eva arrived in Chicago and when they were in the hotel room, Cary Grant say "Tell me something darling. How does a girl like you get to be like you?!"

This would be Cary Grant's last movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It is pure James Bond and in the picture below you see fellow British actor, James Mason sitting next to Cary Grant.

James Mason was superb in his role as a bad guy in North by Northwest. It is supremely ironic, that after Cary Grant passed on being the first actor to play James Bond, the role was offered to James Mason, who also passed on it!!!

Charade [1963]
Cary Grant & Audrey Hepburn

So if Cary Grant had played James Bond in Dr. No, what would he have looked like? The movie he made with the unequaled Audrey Hepburn gives us a great clue. Charade premiered a year after Dr. No premiered with Sean Connery. As we learned earlier, Cary Grant passed on playing James Bond in Dr. No., because he did not want to commit to doing more than one James Bond movie, instead he played a somewhat similar character in Charade.

The video below really shows how brilliant Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn were together doing schtick.

Cary Grant's Legacy
Father Goose

As I previously mentioned, in my mind, Cary Grant was the only real James Bond, and it is a sad shame the he passed on playing James Bond in Dr. No. Can you imagine Cary Grant sporting a stainless Rolex Submariner!?!

In the mid 1960s Cary finally settled down and married actress Diane Cannon, who was 33 years younger. They had a daughter name Jennifer Grant in 1966 and she is pictured below.

As a teenager, I remember this GQ that came out with Carry Grant on the cover. I always wanted to meet him, but unfortunately Cary passed away in 1986. His legacy in so amazing that it is difficult to put into words. A reporter once asked Cary Grant, if he could trade places with anybody in the world was there anybody, and if so who? Cary thought about it for a long moment and replied, "Yes. I would like to be Cary Grant."

Roger Moore, who played James Bond was very close pals with Cary Grant and you can see two old boys together below.


Albert R. 'Cubby' Broccoli, producer of the James Bond movies once said:

"I first became aware of James Bond during the fifties. Like many thousands of others, I read the James Bond novels voraciously, devouring each new one as it was published, and it did not take me long to realize that they would make an excellent series of films.

"I recognized immediately that if transferred to the screen the Bond Charter would have universal appeal; men would want to be like him and women would fantasize about him. I felt that Fleming wrote about life in a new way, as a man of the world, and captured the vigour and excitement of life as he experienced it; combining his tastes for living, exotic locations, sex, adventure –the good life."

Cary Grant was originally offered to play the role of James Bond in Dr. No by Cubby Broccoli, but Cary refused to sign a contract saying he would play Bond for more than one movie. Cubby Broccoli and Cary Grant were great friends for 50 years, as a matter of fact Grant was the best man at Cubby's wedding to Dana Broccoli in 1959.

Since Cary Grant passed on playing James Bond, Sean Connery was chosen. This choice was based upon Sean Connery's likeness to Cary Grant–as you can clearly see in the collage I put together below. No, that is not a photo of Sean Connery & Cary Grant together.

The photo below is an actual photo of Cary Grant with Sean Connery, which was taken in England in 1957!!!! It turns out that reality can sometimes be stranger than fiction...