This historic vintage watch auction could be the perfect opportunity to invest in a Rolex with a fascinating story behind it!
By Chere Di Boscio
We all know the best way to buy fashion and accessories is to look for vintage. And sometimes, those vintage pieces have more value than you could imagine. That’s true both in terms of monetary value, but also in terms of the history behind them.
One such piece is up for auction now, with Bob’s Watches. The timepiece specialists are auctioning off a beautiful piece of history from Thomas Francis Finley Jr., a United States Navy veteran who served for 28 years, retired as a Navy Captain.
Thomas has volunteered on the USS Midway stationed at Navy Pier in San Diego for the past 17 years. He joined the Navy in October 1966 and piloted the H3 helicopter for a variety of special operations, including the retrieval of the astronauts from Apollo 14 after splashing down in the South Pacific Ocean on February 9, 1971.
The prime crew members for Apollo 14 were Alan B. Shepard Jr, Stuart A. Roosa, and Edgar G. Mitchell. The astronauts were transported by Tom’s helicopter to the USS New Orleans, which was the prime recovery vessel. From the USS New Orleans, the astronauts were transported by Tom and his crew to Pago-Pago in American Samoa.
While on his thrilling missions, Tom wore a 1675 Rolex GMT-Master circa 1968. He is now ready to part with the possessions he has cared for over the last decades and is ready for them to have a new caretaker. Particularly his beloved Rolex, which will be auctioned through the Bob’s Watches auction platform.
In addition to the GMT, Tom also managed to acquire many of the historical artefacts to accompany the watch which will also be included in the auction. The Rolex is expected to sell for approx. $15,000 – $30,000. And it will surely increase in value over time.
This watch is coming directly from the original owner, Tom Finley, who purchased it in 1969 in Hong Kong at Artland Watch Co. while he was on a week-long “shore leave” during Vietnam.
He decided to get a Rolex because his issued field watch flooded. He knew he needed a much more reliable watch. He didn’t really know much about timepieces, but heard from other service members that Rolex GMT-Master was the one to get. And so he did. He managed to keep the box and papers over all these years.
Interestingly, Tom picked a watch that was the personal watch choice of multiple astronauts. There are photos of Edgar Mitchell, Stuart Roosa and Alan Shepard wearing Rolex GMT-Master watches. There are even photos of Edgard Mitchell and Stuart Roosa wearing their personal GMTs during the Apollo 14 mission. Edgar apparently was wearing two GMTs, one on each wrist. These facts made Tom even more pleased with his watch choice, and makes this vintage watch auction even more exciting!
A Bit About The Rolex GMT-Master
The Rolex GMT-Master was born out of necessity. It was designed during the dawn of international flight to allow pilots to access local and home time are simultaneously available to the wearer thanks to its use of an additional 24-hour hand and corresponding 24-hour bezel. Rolex continues to tweak various aspects of the GMT series, but its core design has remained largely unchanged. The brand’s dedication to this iconic aesthetic has made the Rolex GMT-Master one of the most sought-after watches in the world.
The current version of the stainless steel GMT-Master II retails for $9,700. But it is perpetually sold out at retailers and high demand for the watch has driven that price up considerably on the secondary market to values that can be in excess of twice its original retail price. Original GMT-Master watches are more rare, and consequently fetch higher prices. This vintage watch auction is expected to fetch around three times the price of a new GMT-Master II.
A Bit About The Auction
The online auction will last for five days. It’s online, and you can take part from Friday November 10th, 2023 to Tuesday, November 14th. There is no reserve, nor any buyer’s premium.
The watch itself is in overall great overall condition. The case shows some scratches, wear and nicks. There are some signs of wear and scratches between the lugs and the engraved numbers are still legible.
The red-back bezel insert (Rolex Pepsi) is in good condition with wear and scratches and has faded throughout.
The dial is in attractive condition and has developed patina and wear with some darker patina around the edges.
The hour markers have developed patina and have aged to a creamy off-white color. Some of the plots show signs of degradation/wear around the edges. The hands are in good condition with patina. The hour and GMT hands show some slight cracks in the lume and are hard to notice.
For more information about the watch and the auction, please click here.
Best of luck to all those participating in this exciting vintage watch auction!