Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Rolex Turn-O-Graph (Thunderbird)

The Rolex Turn-O-graph was introduced in the 1950s with the introduction of the outer bezel in its bubbleback movement watch. The first model numbered as 6202 featured an A.296 movement. Since it was marketed as an adventure watch, it was equipped with a rotating bezel and is produced in stainless steel.
The Turn-o-graph was a forerunner of the Submariner which debuted in 1953, followed by the GMT Master in 1954. In 1956 the Day-Date (or President) model was released, which indicates the day of the month and the day of the week (spelled out in letters)
Being the lover of the Rolex bubbleback I will naturally keep the Ref 6202 Tun-O-Graph as an extension of my bubbleback collections. To some extend, the 6202 also complement my submariner collections of the James Bond sub 5508 as well as the 5513 and 1680 red submariner.
The 6202 model was later replaced by the ref 6309, 6099 and the 1625, 16250. The nomenclature of this watch is derived from the rotating bezel on these particular models, which differs from the stationary bezel of most Datejust Rolexes.

I was lucky to be able to find the Rolex 6202 Tun-o-Graph in guilted dial.

The U.S. Air Force was born in 1947, just after World War II. Six short years later, on May 25, 1953, the U.S Air Force developed its official air demonstration team know as the Thunderbirds. The demonstration team was activated at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, with the designation of the 3600th Air Demonstration Unit.
Since Luke Air Force base was located in Arizona, the team adopted the name "Thunderbirds" based upon the American Indian culture and folklore of the American South West. The American Indian legend said there was a great Thunderbird that was an eagle or hawk, and that when this great bird took to the sky, the earth would tremble from the thunderous power of its wings.
In 1959 Rolex developed a special Rolex Datejust for and worn by the U.S. Air Force

20+ yeas ago, when i first started to collect vintage watches in 1988, i have came across the Rolex Thunderbird. I was not attracted to it as it was considered a big watch when the mid size or boy size was popular during that time. Moreover, the watch was less then 30 years of age making it not "vintage" enough in the 1980s.

As such, I have never the intention to extend the Turn-O-Graph collection (often also known as the RolexThunderbird) until I came cross this nice 36mm vintage 1966 Steel with white gold bezel Rolex ref 1625 with jubilee bracelet from the in Zurich this evening.

The fantastic condition of this 46 years old aatch really caught my attention. Times flies! I was torn between the 1625 and another vintage 1979 grey dial 16250 Turn-O-Graph with the quick date adjustment movement. In the end, I have chosen the 1966 model owing to its vintage look. The bicolor yellow gold and steel models are slightly cheaper then the white gold and steel model but I preferred the white gold and steel model as it is more subtle and less flashy. The bicolor models were popular in the 1980s-1990s but looks a little dated now..

The watch looks like the 1601 except that it has a more sporty maker bezel like that of the submariner. However, it has a more elegant look as the bezel is in solid white gold (there are also models with yellow gold bezel or whole solid yellow gold).
The 1625 IMHO has a potential of forward investment as many of the prices for the sports series (Submariner, GMT, Explorer, Daytona) have already increased many folds. The Thunderbird 1625 ,on the other hand, is like a forgotten uncut diamonds waiting to be exploited. Of course, if one wants to continue with the sports trend, one must only go for the white gold 1625 and not the yellow gold ( as the yellow gold) will make the watch a little less sporty.

The 1625 has a more bevel edge bezel.

The 16250 has a flatter bezel as below:

Just recently, Rolex decided to reintroduce the Turn-O-Graph bezel on modern-day Rolex Datejust. This watch is a new, modern-day Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust Turn-O-Graph in stainless steel with an 18K white gold bezel. The bezel looks like a combination of the old 1601 ring bezel + the triangle markers and 10, 20, 30, 40, 50.

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