Friday, June 16, 2023

Rolex Tool Watching: Middle East Rolex as a Political Tool Watch...

The Complete History of Rolex In The

Middle East

Rolex as a Political Tool Watch 

Rolex's amazing reputation precedes it, as arguably the most prestigious brand in history, and as a result remains The International Mark of Success throughout the world today. The Middle East is no exception and in the photo below we see current Rolex CEO, Jean-Frédéric Dufour with tennis legend, Roger Federer celebrating the opening of the world's largest Rolex Boutique which opened last year in Dubai.

Emkwan takes us an an AMAZING tour of the worlds largest Rolex Story in the video below.

Esquire Magazine also created a great overview of the Rolex Boutique in this superb video:

In this fascinating story we are going to hop in The Rolex Time Machine and travel back more than a half-century to the Middle East to learn how Rolex became THE CHOICE for Kings, Sultans, Politicians and military leaders in the Middle East. We begin with this photo of Rolex founder, Hans Wilsdorf in Egypt, on the Giza Plateau located on the West bank of the Nile. 

In the photo above on the far left we see the famous Egyptian Sphinx which depicted a man with the body of a lion. The Sphinx is the oldest documented monumental sculpture in Egypt as it dates back to more than 4500 years to around 2540 B.C. In the background we see an ancient Egyptian Pyramid at the Giza Pyramid Complex. Hans Wilsdorf (founder of Rolex) is pictured on the left in the horse drawn carriage sitting next to a man named Evelpides who was a Rolex watch dealer in Egypt. We also see Hans Wilsdorf' wife sitting on the camel.

This next image above of Hans Wilsdorf was taken in 1949 in the Gulf Kingdom of Bahrain, which shows Hans Wilsdorf with Naj Murad, who founded Modern Art Studio in Bahrain, which remains a successful Rolex Authorized Dealer today. One thing is for sure and that is the fact Hans Wilsdorf loved traveling the world and kept in seemingly constant communication with the Rolex dealer network he built over more than half a century...

When we think of a Rolex tool watch, we typically think of a Submariner, GMT-Master or Daytona, but as we see in this story many powerful men used their Rolex Datejust and Day-Dates as tool watches as a symbol of leadership and integrity.

Rolex Tool Watching

In the photo below, discovered by Nick Gould, we see Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 1965 rockin his Rolex Day-Date as he sits with his family while having a cup of tea near Abu Dhabi. Sheikh Zayad ruled Abu Dhabi for more than 30 years, and the photo below was taken just before he took over as the Ruler of UAE.

From Right to Left: HRH Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Sheikh Sultan Biz Zayed Al Nayhan (His second eldest son), and Obaid Rin Rashid Al Mansoori.

Speaking of Sheikhs wearing Rolex Day-Date models, we see Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani pictured below shaking hands with the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Adile Sultan Palace in Instanbul in 2014. Notice Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is wearing a Platinum Rolex Day-Date. It's fascinating to note that despite the fact the Sheikh pictured above and below are not related (at least, not that I am award of) they look so similar even though the photos were taken a half-century apart from one another! This image was also discovered by Nick Gould.

Rolex watches have also been very popular in the free state of Israel as wee see in the photo below on the wrists of Moshe Dayan and Ariel Sharon during the Yom Kippur War which took place from October 6 through October 25, 1973. 


Military & Political Leadership

Let's start with taking a look at Rolex in Israel. I remember when I was a kid growing up in San Francisco in the late 1960s and early 1970s watching cartoons on the weekend, and there were these really confusing TV commercials for a show named "In The News." The commercials used to say things like "In Lebanon today, Palestinian Gorillas (PLO) hijacked an Airplane, or Gorillas attacked the Sinai peninsula and Golan Heights, or in the Suez Canal, or on the Gaza Strip and West bank—In The News." Of course they were saying 'Guerrillas', but as a small child of four to seven years old I thought they meant that Gorillas (as in very large monkeys) were attacking people in a bank :-) Little Kid Logic (LKL) is always a funny thing...

Rolex on the Wrists of Israel's Security Men

Moshe Dyan and Ariel Sharon pictured above both wearing Rolex Datejust watches on October 1, 1973 in the Suez Canal. Israeli Army Southern Command, General Ariel Sharon with Defense Minister, Moshe Dayan during the Yom Kippur War on the western bank of the Suez Canal in Egypt.

Israel is located on the Mediterranean Sea, and it's considered to be the Biblical Holy land by Jews, Christians and Muslims. Despite having such a historically significant background, Israel was founded in 1948 making it one of the youngest countries in the world. This section story is focused around four military men who helped form Israel into the country it is today. Every Israeli citizen is required to serve in the Military, so basically all politicians have a military background.

Israeli Prime Minister Levy Eshkol with Defense Minister, Moshe Dyan visiting an Israeli army camp in the West Bank after the Six-Day War in 1967.

This group of four men has been referred to as "Israel's Security Men" by Thomas G. Mitchell who wrote a book with that title. Mitchell coined the term "Military Politicians" in his book to describe these four men.

Moshe Dayan

Moshe Dayan is pictured below wearing his signature eyepatch which he gained as a result of loosing his eye in a battle in 1941.

Moshe Dayan appeared on the Sunday Morning CBS News TV show "Face The Nation" on December 9, 1973 and was wearing his Rolex Datejust. It doesn't just tell time. It tells history...

In the photo below we see Israel Chief of Staff, Moshe Dayan (Third from left) standing next to Ariel Sharon (second from left) on October 28, 1955. The other men in the photo were commanders of a raid in Kunteila, Egypt. 

Ariel Sharon

Rolex Datejust

Ariel Sharon joined the Israeli army in 1948 at its inception, and began as a paratrooper during the Israeli War of Independence, and continued to play a key role in each of the following wars.

Ariel Sharon is pictured below on October 31, 1973 in the Sinai Dessert in Egypt. At the time Ariel Sharon was the Southern Command General and in this photo he is standing on the banks of the Suez Canal, which is located in the Sinai Desert during the Yom Kippur War. Notice he is wearing a Rolex Datejust.

Ariel Sharon is pictured below on August 29, 1982 on the CBS Sunday Morning TV show named "Face The Nation". In this photo then, Israeli Defense Minister, Ariel Sharon is reviewing a map of Israel and Lebanon. Notice his Rolex Datejust on his wrist.

Yitzchak Rabin
Rolex Datejust

Yitzchak Rabin was an Israeli General, politician and statesman. He served as the 5th Prime Minister of Isreal for two terms from 1974-1977, and again in 1992 until he was assassinated in 1995.

In the photo above and two photos below we see Yitzchak Rabin wearing his Rolex Datejust on an Oyster bracelet.

Ehud Barak

In the 2011 photo below we see Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak hugging Leon Panetta who was the U.S. Defense Secretary. Barak is wearing a two-tone Rolex GMT-Master.

King Hussein


King Hussein of Jordan is pictured below with his wife Queen Alia and their children. King Hussein was the King of Jordan from 1952 until he passed away in 1999, and during his tenure as King had an AMAZING collection of Rolex watches.

The photo below was discovered by Nick Gould and shows King Hussein wearing an unusual Rolex Day-Date in 1962 on a Jubilee Bracelet.

This next photo of King Hussein was taken in 1982 and it shows him wearing his "Mocha GMT" on a Jubilee Bracelet.

Muammar Gaddafi


The photo below shows Libyan revolutionary and General, Muammar Gaddafi when he was a younger man, and notice he is wearing his Rolex Datejust.

In this next photo we see Muammar Qaddafi wearing his Rolex Datejust as he chats with King Hussein of Jordan who is wearing his Rolex GMT-Master, and on the far right we see Egyptian President, Anwar Sadat. This photo was taken on September 30, 1970 just after former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser passed away.

Hosni Mubarak


Hosni Mubarak is a former Egyptian President (1981-2011), Prime Minister (1981-1982), Vice President (1975-1981) and military leader in the Egyptian Air Force where he served as a Commander from 1972-1975. He was born in 1928 and was ousted from office in 2011. In the photos below we see him wearing his two-tone Rolex GMT-Master on a Jubilee bracelet. I recall also seeing photos of him wearing a Rolex Dayt-Date which I will find and add to this story in the future.

Yassar Arafat


Yassar Arafat was the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) from 1969 until he passed away in 2004, and as we see he wore a Rolex Datejust on a Jubilee bracelet.

Saddam Hussein


Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is pictured below on January 20, 1999 spoking a cigar near Bagdad in Iraq, and we is wearing a Rolex Datejust. 

I decided to consolidate all my previous stories on Arabic Rolex watches below. Rolex used to make special Rolex watches with custom artwork for the Arab markets and many of these vintage Arabic Rolex watches are considered to be highly collectable and valuable today:

Originally Published: April 1, 2018

A Different Kind Of 

Rolex President

Hafez al-Assad Custom Arabic Rolex Explorer Dial

[Reference 16550]

Back in 2010, Sotheby's auctioned this one-of-a-kind custom dial Rolex Explorer which belonged to Hafaz al-Assad, who was the President of Syria. It is a vintage 1989 Rolex Explorer II, and it is a very early version of the Polar dial Explorer II with white gold indices and matching white gold hands.

Originally Published: June 7, 2014

...Auction Results...

Sultan of Oman Rolex Day-Date Models
Record Setting Price Results at Christies Auction

Christies recently auction off some amazing Rolex watches on May 12, 2014, in Geneva, Switzerland that were made for the Sultan of Oman, and this auction included a number of Rolex Day-Date "Presidential" models that shattered previous records. We begin with this platinum Rolex Day-Date made which was made in 1974, and features a blue dial with a red Omani crest, coupled with diamond dial markers and with matching diamonds running around the bezel. This watch was estimated to sell for between $51,000 and $79,000, and it ended up selling for more than four times the estimate at $352,119!!! Basically, vintage Rolex watches are going through the roof at auction!!!

The next watch pictured below which features baguette cut baton markers cut from rubies on a yellow gold Rolex Day-Date [Made in 1984 Reference 18038, Caliber 3055], as well as the Omani crest on the dial. This watch was estimated to sell from between $42,000 to $82,000 and it ended up selling for $182,287!!!

On a side note, watches that were made by Rolex that feature Arab logos on the dial are typically know as "Arabic Rolex Watches."
Next up we see another yellow gold Rolex Day-Date made for the Sultan Of Oman, and this one was made in 1979, and it sold also had an estimate selling price of between $42,000 and $68,000, but sold for more than double at $168,700.

Originally Published: January 4, 2014

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

Ryan's United Arab Emirates GMT
Very Rare Blueberry Bezel on a NATO

The watch below recently cause a bunch of controversy which you can learn more about by checking out my story on the GMT-Blueberry Myth.

Originally Published: March 1, 2012

Omani Rolex Daytona Models

Arab dial logo custom Rolex watches are really cool and highly collectable. Today we look at two different versions of the same Rolex Daytona [Reference 6263]. This first one is from Stefano Mazzariol.

This next Omani dial Rolex Daytona [Reference 6263], has a green Omani sword logo and it appears courtesy of Cortez Ramon.

Originally Published: Feb 6, 2012

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

An Omani Rolex Cosmograph

Some of these vintage Rolex Chronographs with Arab dials are so cool looking, like this Omani Cosmograph.

Originally Published: March 11, 2010

Wrist Shot Of The Day
United Arab Emirates Daytona
Stainless Steel Rolex Daytona 6263

Rolex used to make customized dials for watches or countries. The "Arab Dial" watches are very highly collectible since they look so unusual and cool. This stunning example of a Rolex Daytona [Reference 6263] belongs to NBTimes.

Originally Published: October 23, 2009

Amanico's GMT Master
From The United Arab Emirates

Amanico took this stunning photo of his vintage Rolex GMT Master that was made for the United Arab Emirates. The UAE Eagle logo looks really cool!!! I never noticed before, but it appears the UAE Eagle has a sailboat symbol on its chest.

Originally Published: June 9, 2009

Omani Sea-Dweller

The dial on this very interesting looking Rolex Sea-Dweller [Reference 1665] has the emblem of the Sultanate of Oman which is a sheath over two crossed swords. These very rare watches were made in 1972 and given to the SAS (Special Air Service) regiment soldiers from the Sultan of Oman.

Photo Credit: Cortez Ramon

Originally Published: June 21, 2009

Amir of Qatar Rolex

The portrait on the dial of this custom-made Rolex is of the former Amir of Qatar whose name is Sheikh. Khalifa Al Thani.

This photo is of a Rolex watch sold by Christie's Auction house.

I find this Rolex watch to have very interesting design language and I think it looks very, very cool.

One of the details I noticed on this watch is that under the Rolex Crown on the dial it says Rolex and then it says "Geneve." 

I think that would mean the "Geneve" seal which is the highest Swiss Certification a watch can have. I don't recall ever seeing the "Geneve" seal on a Rolex before? Most Patek Philippe's have the "Geneve" seal.