Defined by post-war exuberance and the dawn of the age of leisure, the 1950s and early ’60s saw the introduction of some of the most notable wristwatches ever produced, so it’s no surprise that collectible models from the era remain highly sought-after.
Capitalizing on the hoopla over the era’s famed sports watches, Bob’s Watches has devoted its latest “Fresh Finds” online auction, on now through August 4, to four stainless steel timepieces—one Omega and three Rolex models—from the early 1960s.
“The 1950s and ’60s were essentially pioneering years for Rolex as they created and launched several sport ‘tool watches’ like the Submariner and the GMT,” says Paul Altieri, founder of Bob’s Watches. “These casual and sporty models were created specifically for professional activities like deep-sea diving, flying and exploration. Today, they continue to serve as benchmarks or standard-bearers in the world.”
“A big part of the reason why these vintage sports watches continue to remain so collectible throughout the years is because they represent a time when mankind was pushing boundaries and expanding its reach in a pre-digital era,” Altieri adds. “During the 1950s and 1960s, humans were first starting to travel to the bottom of the ocean and outer space, and they were forced to rely on these mechanical watches to help them redefine what we thought was possible.”
The sale includes four of the most iconic sports models ever made: a 1965 Omega Speedmaster 105.003 “Ed White” with straight lugs, a feature of the earliest and most coveted references, which were powered by the legendary Caliber 321; a 1963 Rolex GMT Master 1675 with pointed crown guards (what’s known as a “PCG case” in Rolex collector lingo) and a gilt “Swiss only” dial and an original fat-font “Pepsi” bezel insert; a 1963 Rolex Explorer 1016 with a gilt dial, chapter ring and an exclamation point marking at 6 o’clock (which only appeared on earlier references); and a 1961 Rolex Submariner 5512 with a PCG case, two-line gilt dial with both a chapter ring and an exclamation point marking.
That all four watches are sourced from their original owners adds to their cache. In the case of the Rolex Submariner 5512, the son of the original owner had this to say about his father’s timepiece:
“The watch was purchased by my father after WWII, we suspect sometime in the early ’60s when he was out of the war. My father was a deep sea diver during WWII and the Korean War, he visited many parts of the world during his time served. After the war, he became an engineer and settled down with my mother. To commemorate his time in the war, he decided to purchase this Rolex Submariner 5512, I believe he told me he paid no more than a few hundred dollars for the piece, which was a good sum of money for the time, but for him it was invaluable.”
Opening bids range from $14,000 for the vintage Omega to $25,000 for the Rolex Submariner.