There are few items on this planet that are as masculine—or timeless—as a vintage stainless-steel Rolex. They are effortlessly cool. Hell, everyone wore a Rolex back in the day. Truman, Eisenhower, and LBJ each had one, and so did Che Guevara. Kennedy had one, too, but because Marilyn gave it to him and not Jackie, he never wore it. And don’t forget Newman, McQueen, and James Bond himself.
By definition, there’s a limited number of rare Rolexes out there; I even built a career out of writing about them on HODINKEE. And now I’m pleased to present this Gilt MAN sale, featuring 17 vintage Rollies curated by yours truly.
I’ve selected a range of pieces that are all unique in different ways. We’ve got some early GMT’s—the watch that Pan-Am airlines commissioned for the first generation of transcontinental pilots—some pure and clean Oysters that go just as well with a T-shirt as they do a tux, a really rare “tank” watch from the 1940s, and two great Datejusts that look just as good as they did the day they came off the line. Another classic is an early 1970s Submariner with a clean and faded dial.
But my two favorite watches from the sale are all really something special, and you’d be hard pressed to find any other examples anywhere in the world, let alone at these prices. The first is a Tudor Submariner that was issued to the Argentine Military in 1965. The dial is perfectly faded and original, and it even has the military issue numbers stamped right into the caseback.
The second is a 20-year-old Rolex Explorer “Blackout.” The Explorer was made famous by Sir Edmund Hillary, who wore a similar watch while scaling Everest, and for the 60 years it’s been in production, the Explorer was always made with white markers on a black dial—except for one year. The “Blackout” Explorer features black-filled numerals over the traditional black dial, and is one of the rarest Rolex watches made in the past quarter century.
All of the watches in this sale are incredible pieces that will stand the test of time—each could be the only watch you’ll ever need to buy. My advice: have your own Marilyn buy one for you.