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Eric Clapton: King of Rolex
by admin



Pic.: Eric Clapton with his Submariner and B.B. King in the back seat with his inevitable yellow gold Rolex President (not visible)

Eric Patrick Clapton was born in Ripley, Surrey, in the UK, on March 30th, 1945. His mother, Patricia Molly Clapton, was only 16 years old when Eric was born. His father, Edward Walter Fryer, was a 24-year old Canadian soldier, posted in the UK during WOII who returned to Canada after the war. Being a single teenage mother, Patricia was not capable of dealing with motherhood and her mother and step-father, Rose and Jack Clapp, decided to undertake this task. Eric’s family name originates from his grandfather on his mother’s side, Reginald Cecil Clapton.

Eric grew up in a very musical household. His grandmother was a talented pianist and his grandfather appeared to be a decent pianist as well.
When Eric was told the truth about his grandparents and mother – he thought they were his parents and sister – , he turned from a good student and popular boy into a reserved person who lost all motivation to study. However, at the age of 13, he appeared to have an outstanding talent for art and he went to the art department of the Holyfield Road School.
In that time, 1958, rock and roll had caused an explosion within the British music scene. As a present for his 13th birthday Eric asked for a guitar and he was given a cheap Hoyer made in Germany. But he found it difficult and painful to play this steel-string guitar and he let it slide.
It was not until he was 16 that, after being admitted to the Kingston College of Art, he was eager to get back to the guitar. Eric’s examples were blues guitar players like Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and Alexis Korner. The latter inspired Eric to buy an electric guitar, which was relatively rare in the UK in those days.
It was also at Kingston that he discovered something the lifelong impact of which would be almost equally great as the guitar: booze.
After the first time of getting drunk, at the age of 16, he woke up in the woods, alone, covered with vomit and penniless. Eric remembers ‘I couldn’t wait to do it all again’. It obviously did not take long before he was removed from school.
From 1963 on, Eric started hanging around in bars in London West End where he played with The Roosters, and Casey Jones and The Engineers for short periods of time. In order to get by Eric worked in the building trade.
In October 1963, Eric was invited to play with The Yardbirds, scoring his first commercial hits ‘Good Morning Little Schoolgirl’ and ‘For Your Love’. In 1965 he left the band and was substituted by the guitarists Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck. Later they would be considered the best rock guitarists ever.
After some time, in 1965, Eric joined the John Mayall & the Bluesbrakers blues band that would record the ‘The Bluesbrakers with Eric Clapton’ album one year later. This record established Eric’s reputation as one of the greatest guitarists of that time. With songs like ‘What’d I Say’ and ‘Ramblin’ on My Mind’ Eric won the very flattering epithet ‘God’, resulting from graffiti in the London underground saying ‘Clapton is God’.
Despite this success, Eric left the Bluesbrakers rather soon and a few months later he created the rock trio Cream, together with the bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Braker.
They played songs like ‘Crossroads’ and ‘White Room’ and after making three successful albums -Fresh Cream (1966), Disraeli Gears (1967) and Wheels of Fire (1968)- in addition to the extensive tour in the USA, Cream had gained an international superstar status. However, after two final concerts in the Londen Royal Albert Hall, Cream fell apart due to conflicting egos.


It would lead too far afield to reveal Clapton’s remaining musical history entirely.
The period between 1970 and 1987 was characterized by complete ambiguity. Clapton achieved tremendous musical successes (e.g. he wrote the song ‘Layla’ to express his desperate affection for Pattie Boyd, the wife of Beatle George Harrison), but his personal life was a mess. In the early 70s he was addicted to cocaine for three years and as of 1979 he had been a heavy alcohol abuser. One divorce after another followed, Clapton committed adultery and fathered two illegitimate children.
In 1987, Eric gave up drinking with the 12-step aid of the AA and he has been sober since. Even in 1991 when he suffered a great personal tragedy. His son Conor died after he fell from a window in his mother’s house. In connection with this tragic event Clapton wrote the song ‘Tears in Heaven’.
In 2002 he married Melia McEnery with whom he has three daughters, Julie Rose, Ella Mae and Sophie. Sober for the first time in his life, Eric greatly enjoys a stable family life.
In 1998, he founded the Crossroads Centre, a alcohol and drug rehabilitation centre, and in 2007, Clapton’s autobiography was published.


Pic.: Eric Clapton wearing his Rolex Daytona Paul Newman with a ‘fatstrap’ like the one Newman used to wear

Eric Clapton is a collector of vintage Rolex watches and he is also an ambassador for Rolex.
Recently, two very rare samples from his collection were auctioned the proceeds of which went towards the Crossroads Centre.

This stainless steel Rolex Daytona was auctioned a few years ago and the bidding went up to $ 505,000, which was a worldwide auction record. What makes this watch very special is the ‘Albino’ dial, as it is extremely rare.


The Yachtmaster Daytona was a prototype of Rolex and was never put on the market. The prototype had the ref 6239/6242 and only three samples of this model are known. The first was Clapton’s, the second John Goldberger’s and the third is included in the private Rolex collection (this one has a special frame with ref 6542).


Clapton’s Yachtmaster was auctioned in 2003 by Christie’s for $ 125,000.

Other watches from the collection include:

-Ref 6062: in 18-carat gold with diamonds on the dial, considered the best Rolex ever.


- Ref 6036: gold with various gems and a romantic patina finish


- Ref 6239: gold, white and anthracite with matching tachymeter ring


- Ref 6236: the sports version of the Compax series from the early 60s


- Ref 3525


- Ref 6263: Oyster chronograph


Jaap Bakker

September 14th



Niki Lauda: passionate race-driver
by admin


The son of a wealthy Viennese family, Andreas Nikolaus ‘Niki’ Lauda was born on February 22nd, 1949. The family’s social status turned out to be both advantageous and disadvantageous to Niki. He found it very hard to adapt himself to the family’s straightjacket, but when he found himself seriously involved in racing, the family capital came in useful. As a 12-year old boy he would park the cars of his parents’ visitors and via Formule Vee and Formule 3, Niki ended up in Formule 2 in 1971. This against his father’s will who wanted Niki to stay away from racing.


In the seasons of 1971 and 1972, with loads the family’s money he managed to secure a seat in the March team March (F1/F2 combination) together with Ronnie Peterson. Later he bought a seat in the BRM team of Louis Stanley and then, all of a sudden, Niki’s career took a wide scope. First, Stanley started to pay him for driving his car and subsequently Luca di Montezemolo of Ferrari called him, as he had become aware of Niki’s great talent.

In 1974, his first year in the Ferrari team, he gained his first of the 26 F1 victories and he and his team mate Clay Regazzoni competed for the championship.


The Ferrari 312 T (Transversal) was greatly superior to the competition cars and Niki won 5 races in 1975. He became world champion, leaving number two far behind and he called ’75 ‘the unbelievable year’.

Niki is most likely to be memorized by the championship he did not win.



At the time of the Grand Prix of Germany on the Nurburgring in 1976, Niki led in the world championship significantly despite the fact that he had broken a few ribs while mowing on a tractor on his estate in Salzburg. In his McLaren, F1 playboy James Hunt, winner of the British GP in that year, lagged more than 20 points behind Niki.
After an early pit stop to change rain tyres for slicks, Niki’s Ferrari suddenly flew to the right for inexplicable reasons, hitting the crashbarrier near Bergwerk. The car bounced back on the track, Brett Lunger was unable to avoid Niki’s car which was set on fire.


A couple of race-drivers including Brett Lunger, Guy Edwards and fearless Arturo Merzario managed to free Niki from the burning wreck. Although he was still able to stand after the accident, it soon became clear how seriously wounded he was. Hot, toxic gases had damaged his lungs and had entered his blood circulation. His helm had partly come loose, causing his head to be seriously burnt and he soon became comatose. For weeks on end his life was being feared for.


The unbelievable happened: six weeks after his accident Niki could again be found in the cockpit of his Ferrari. Later he confessed that he was almost paralysed with fright at that time. In the previous 6 weeks two GPs had taken place and Hunt had come closer, having gained a second victory in Zandvoort. Niki returned at the Monza GP and finished fourth admirably (3 points). Subsequently, Hunt won the two following GPs in North-America. In Canada, Niki was forced to give up due to suspension problems and on Watkins Glen he came in third. Before the final race on the Fuji circuit, Hunt only lagged 3 points behind Niki. The race started in heavy rain and after two laps Niki gave up, saying it was madness to race under those weather conditions. He may have been right, but his previous accident is very likely to have influenced this decision as well. During the race the weather conditions improved quickly and despite a late pit stop, Hunt finished third resulting in his becoming world champion, with 1 point ahead of Niki.
In 1977, Niki became world champion for the second time driving a Ferrari (thanks to only 3 victories), but at the Canada Grand Prix he suddenly terminated his collaboration with Ferrari. In ’78/’79, he drove for Brabham and then announced the end of his F1 career.
However, in 1982 he returned, for financial reasons he said, (in the intervening year he had started his own airplane company Lauda Air, which was heavy financial burden to him). He entered a contract (the agreement cost him a lot of money, but involved only 4 races) with Ron Dennis of McLaren. His teammate was John Watson.
In 1984, Niki became the world champion for the third time, this time with the McLaren TAG Turbo, with 1/2 point (the Monaco GP was cancelled due to which the points had been halved) ahead of his former teammate Alain Prost.
A short overview of Niki’s record in F1:
- Races: 171
- Victories: 26
- Pole positions: 24
- Podiums: 54
- Fastest racing laps: 25
- Number of laps having the lead: 1620
- World champion: 1975 and 1977 (Ferrari), 1984 (McLaren)
‘This year (1974) I wasn’t ready to become world champion. If I have a good season next year, I shall know the reason for it all: to make me tough and ready for great things’
‘What struck me was how “clever” his best performances were. He often kept himself back, in practice, and awaited the right moment, and then really went flat out. He always thought more deeply than the others, and he also gave himself endless trouble preparing the race’
Fritz Indra, Ferrari mechanic
‘My PR value alone is worth that much. You’ll be paying only one dollar for my driving ability, all the rest is for my personality’
Lauda, during the negotiations with McLaren and Marlboro to return in F1
Niki Lauda has always been a loyal wearer of Rolex watches.

Niki-Lauda:Big Red Panda Daytona

Pic.: Niki with his Rolex Daytona ‘Big Red Panda’


Pic.: Niki with his ‘Pepsi’ Rolex GMT-Master

Jaap Bakker

August 12th




Magnum P.I.: ex-Navy Seal with a Rolex and a Ferrari
by admin

Thomas Sullivan Magnum IV (played by actor Tom Selleck) was the main character in the popular TV serial Magnum, P.I. in the eighties.
He was born between 1944 and 1947, most likely on the 8th of August 1944. His parents were Katherine and Thomas Sullivan Magnum III and both his father and grandfather were naval officers. He was born in Detroit, but raised near Tidewater, Virginia.


Magnum was in the US Navy forces for over ten years, serving in Navy Seals as well as Naval Intelligence. He fought in the Vietnam war and was made a prisoner of war. In 1979, a disillusioned man, he left the Navy, but in the final Magnum P.I. episode he decided to re-enter active naval service as Commander (O-5). He may have served in the Golf War and retired in the rank of Captain (O-6) in the late nineties after a 30-year service period.
After he left the Navy, Magnum ended up in Hawaii where he hung around as a private detective, broke, being uncertain about getting paid jobs. Nevertheless, he was able to have a comfortable life which he owed to the well-known actor Robin Masters who put him up in the guest rooms of his country estate ‘Robin’s Nest’. Moreover, Magnum was allowed to make unlimited use of his Ferrari 308 GTS, as long as he could safeguard the security on the estate.

magnumpi:robin 1

The clothing Magnum liked most consisted of khaki short or jeans (Navy-issue trunks or Levis), an Aloha shirt and Sperry boat shoes or Puma Easy Rider sneakers, usually without socks. He often wore timeworn baseball caps of his favourite team, the Detroit Tigers.
Magnum led the life any man dreams of: a Rolex round his wrist, a Ferrari at his disposal, working when you feel like it, a never empty fridge filled with beer, beautiful women and adventures with friends.
During the first season of the serial it became clear that Magnum was a fan of the Styx, Jefferson Starship and Blondie bands. But he reluctantly admitted having recordings of Bach and Beethoven as well, particularly to impress his pal Higgins.



Magnum’s favourite drink used to be Old Düsseldorf beer in long-necked bottles, but it did not bother him at all to pinch a bottle of wine from Robin Masters’s wine cellar; but only when he was absolutely sure that Higgings was not around.
He was characterized by a collection of personal stuff, souvenirs collected over the years such as baseball bats and caps, a gorilla mask and a rubber chicken. He also had a VHS tape of ‘Stalag 17′, his favourite movie.
His personal weapon, which he bore with some regret, was a Colt Government Model .45 ACP hand weapon, Colt’s commercial version of the standard military issue M1911A1 (In the serial Tom Selleck did not use a .45, because he could not rely on it when firing dummies. It was substituted by a 9 mm dummy Parabellum, a weapon that strongly resembles the 45).
One wall in Robin’s Nest guest rooms was decorated with a real Gauguin and Magnum frequently negotiated with Higgins about using expensive cameras and the tennis courts on the estate. And to crown it all, Magnum was allowed to drive Robin Masters’ Ferrari 308 GTS unlimitedly.

Magnum PI 1982 Ferrari interior



Pic.: the camera used by Magnum in the Ferrari and the contents of his wallet

In the serial three different Ferrari types were used:
- Season 1: 308 GTS
- Season 2-6: 308 GTSi
- Season 7-8: 308 GTSi QV
Below an overview of the technical specifications of the various 308 types:
1978 308 GTS
Year(s) Horsepower
1977-1980 240 HP
Weight Torque
3,160 lbs. 181 lbs. @ 5000 RPM
Top Speed 0-60
151 MPH 7.0 seconds
1980 308 GTSi
Year(s) Horsepower
1980-1982 205 HP
Weight Torque
3,225 lbs. 181 lbs. @ 5000 RPM
Top Speed 0-60
146 MPH 7.3 seconds
1984 308 GTSi QV
Year(s) Horsepower
1982-1985 230 HP
Weight Torque
3,230 lbs. 188 lbs. @ 5000 RPM
Top Speed 0-60
155 MPH 6.1 seconds

His most precious possession was the Rolex ‘Pepsi’ GMT-Master that had belonged to his deceased father. Magnum’s father was a Navy pilot who died in the Korean War when Magnum was only five years old.

mpi:gmt pepsi


Thanks to Egbert Bakker

Jaap Bakker

August 12th




The CEO of Rolex: Gian Riccardo Marini
by admin


On May the 3th 2011 the Italian Gian Riccardo Marini was appointed worldwide CEO of Rolex. The former head of Rolex Italy replaced the long time sitting chief Bruno Meier.

In 1932 Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf decided to distribute his watches in Italy through Italian dealer Franco Locatelli. In 1947 Locatelli started the business ROMALO together with Ronchi, the first Rolex dealer in Milan, and Renato Marini.
The sons of Renato Marini, Gian Riccardo and Giancarlo, became involved with the firm in the seventies. Soon Gian Riccardo became the commercial director of the business. In 1980 ROMALO started with it’s first service centre which quickly became an important international institute for the training of Rolex dealers. It took until 1993 before ROMALO became a recognised part of Rolex Italy SpA.

Gian Riccardo Marini is responsible for the important brand combinations with sailing and golf and the creation of limited editions for these sports. When Marini talks about the uniqueness of a Rolex watch he uses this quote: “an object of passion and luxury, but also an important personal investment”. The whole marketing has made Rolex to be one of the most solid luxury brands in the world.

After Marini became professionally involved with sailing the sport turned out to be love at first site for him. In an interview in Yacht Online he was asked if he could explain why luxury brands in general and watch manufacturers especially are more and more interested in sponsoring sailing. He gave the following answer:

“I can’t really say why any other company is interested in the sector. But what is certain is that we were at the forefront in that regard: Rolex was the first watch brand in the world to launch an advertising campaign built around the sea and that was in 1926. Our watches were also the first official timepieces for the America’s Cup. The power of teamwork, cutting-edge technologies, toughness, resistance, man as protagonist: they’re all the values our company recognised in sailing and that’s why we chose it as our preferred sponsorship sport. Now, of course, everyone has gotten in on the act with testimonials, etc. but maybe that’s just because there’s very little spirit of initiative when it comes to looking for new avenues of communication.”

The latest big deal Marini closed is 10 year sponsor contract worth $ 350 million for being the worldwide partner and official timekeeper of the Formula 1. Important reason for closing the deal was the threath of competing watch brand Omega taking over the leading position. According to a report of Digital Luxury Group (DLG) in april 2013 the gap between Rolex and Omega has become smaller over the years, from 8,4% in 2009 to 2% in 2012.
The following picture shows Marini and Formula 1′s big boss Bernie Ecclestone.


To celebrate this deal Rolex produced a very interesting, strictly limited Daytona. The full name of this Rolex is:

Rolex Daytona FORMULA 1 Limited Edition BREVET+ PVD DLC



Brevet is a Swiss company that, according to their website, does the following:

‘About BREVET +

BREVETPLUS specialises in customising and re-designing High End wristwatches at our customers request. BREVETPLUS is proud to be the first company to introduce ADLC ( AMPHOROUS DIAMOND LASER LIKE COATING ), DLC and PVD Coatings.

BREVETPLUS is an independent company providing customisation to original brands. We are not affiliated to any watch manufacturer and operate independently and in an unofficial capacity. BREVET + primarily focuses on achieving unique designs and concepts through its research and development. Our aim is to deliver an irreplaceable watch to our client.

Brevetplus are to watches what Zagato is to Cars.’

These are the most important facts about the Daytona BREVET+:

BLACK ROLEX DAYTONA Formula 1 Limited Edition


BREVET + Limited Edition – Customised Rolex Daytona Formula 1 Limited Edition
Launch Date: March 2013


BLACK AMPHOROUS Diamond Like Carbon matte coating
44 jewels movement
Sapphire crystal
Individual case back engraved (xx-13)
Water proof 100m/300ft
Comes with fitted box
2 years in house BREVET+ warranty for a mechanical failure.

Price: 23.141 euro
This watch is also available in stainless steel at: £14750.

Watches are supplied with or without BREVETPLUS INSCRIPTION on the dials.

Jaap Bakker

August 8th



Chuck Yeager: no flight without a Rolex
by admin


Pic.: Air Force Brigadier General Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager with a Rolex Submariner ref. 6538

General Yeager was born on the 13th of February 1923 in Myra, West Virginia. In 1939 he applied for the Citizens Military Training Camp in Fort Benjamin Harrison and starting the 12th of September 1941 he was part of the Army Corps. In July 1942 he started his pilot training of the flying sergeant program and in March 1943 he received his pilot wings and became a flight officer in Luke Field, Arizona.

As of the 7th of December 1941 the US was pulled into WOII and Yeager took part in it in the 363d Fighter Squadron in Tonopah, Nevada, as a P-39 pilot. In November 1942 he was transfered to Leiston, Suffolk (UK), to start fighting against the Germans as a P-51 pilot. After shooting a ME-109 and a HE-111K on his 8th mission (5th of March 1944) he was shot down himself above occupied France. Thanks to the Maquis (guerilla units of the French resistence, the Resistance) Yeager got away safely to Spain.
After his return to the UK in the summer of 1944 his superiors didn’t want him to fly above occupied territory because he might get shot again and they were afraid that he could fall into the hands of the Gestapo; if he broke under investigation he might give away sensitive information about the Maquis. Yeager fully disagreed and said: “I don’t want to leave my buddies after only eight missions. It just isn’t right. I have a lot of fighting left to do”.
In the end General Dwight D. Eisenhower himself gave him the green light and Yeager went on to fly another 56 missions in which he shot down 11 German warplanes.

In 1945 Yeager returned to the US and through test projects with the P-80 ‘Shooting Star’ and the P-84 ‘Thunderjet’ he got involved in the development of the Bell X-1, the first rocket propelled airplane. The X-1 was stationed at Muroc (now called Edwards Air Force Base) in California. Airbase Muroc was named after the little town of Muroc, founded by the Corum brothers in the beginning of the 20th century.


Pic.: Chuck Yeager in 1947 with a Rolex Oyster

On the 14th of October 1947 General Yeager was the first pilot to break through the sound barrier, flying the Bell X-1 with a speed of Mach 1.07 (670 mph). In the following two years flew another 33 times with the X-1, achieving a topspeed of Mach 1.45 (957 mph) at a height of 70.000 feet.

In December 1953 Yeager flew with the Bell X-1A at a speed of Mach 2.44 (1.650 mph), a record that still stands for an airplane with straight wings.


Pic.: General Chuck Yeager in the Bell X-1 on his way to breaking the sound barrier


Pic.: the postcard Yeager sent to Rolex to thank them for the perfectly working wrist watch

In his whole carrier as a pilot Yeager has always worn Rolex watches (Oyster, Submariner, GMT Master II) and they have never let him down.
Also during the very hairy moment he experienced on the 10th of December 1963. He flew at a height of 104.000 feet (almost 21 miles) in the Lockheed NF-104 when the rocket engine stopped working. Without hydraulic pressure the whole dashboard seized to work and the plane was out of control. Yeager tried to restart the engine but it was completely burnt. The aircraft made 14 complete flat spins on it’s way to the desert Yeager flew above. It was not until the last spin that Yeager ejected himself from the plane at a height of 8.500 feet. The chair went through his visor and he got hot rocket lava in his face. The lava made the oxygen in his pressure suit start to burn and his face was in a sort of inferno. Luckily Yeager managed to open the existing parts of his visor which made the flames to stop.
After a safe touchdown in the desert Yeager realised that he had been very lucky. The rocket lava had burnt the ropes of his parachute to such an extend that they broke in his hand while folding up his parachute.

General Yeager has flown in 201 types of military airplanes and has more than 14.000 flight hours to his name, 13.000 of which in fighter airplanes. Recently he has flown the SR-71 Blackbird, F-15, F-16, F-18 and the F-20 Tigershark.

On the first of March 1975 General Yeager ended his carrier with the US Air Force. Through the years he has received many decorations and medals, both military as civil.
Chuck Yeager was married to Glennis Faye Dickhouse from Grass Valley, California. Unfortunately she passed away on December 1990. They have 2 daughters, Sharon and Susan, and 2 sons, Donald and Michael.

CY:GMT II adv.

Pic.: advertisement with General Chuck Yeager for the Rolex GMT Master II


Afb.: Chuck Yeager with a Big Crown Rolex Submariner ref.6538

Jaap Bakker

July 26th



Mercedes Gleitze: ice cold across the Channel
by admin


On October the 7th of October 1927 Mercedes Gleitze, a young stenographer from London, swam across the Channel in 15 hours and 15 minutes from Cap Gris Nez in France to Dover. She was the first woman ever to do this.

MercG krant

A month and a half later, to be exact on the 24th of November, a page large advertisement for Rolex watches appeared on the front page of the Daily Mail. Part of the ad was about the heroic action of Mercedes Gleitze and especially about the fact that her Rolex Oyster had kept the time exactly “despite being immersed in water for over ten hours”.

But why did Rolex say that her watch was immersed in water for over ten hours while the whole crossing took her 15 hours? Years later, in 2000, this question was finally answered.

Mercedes had attempted a second crossing because after her’s somebody else had swom in less hours across the Channel. Mercedes was forced to end her venture at around the ten and a half hours mark because of extreme cold.
Rolex had only contacted Mercedes between her two crossings to ask if she would like to test and promote the new model. Part of her equipment for the second crossing on the 21th of October 1927 was the 9 crt gold Rolex Oyster that hung on a chain around her neck.

The most important conlusion of this story is that Hans Wilsdorf had the brilliant inspiration to contact somebody who made the frontpages because of a special venture and give that person a Rolex watch so that this also got publicity. This was the starting point of an endless number of individuals in sport, culture and science who started wearing Rolex watches and also promoting them. Hans Wilsdorf proved that he not only in the technical part but also in communication and marketing had a mind that could brilliantly foresee trends in the future.



merceedes glitze last swim  25 aug 1928 signed photo


Jaap Bakker


July 23rd


Jacques Piccard: 36.000 feet into the Mariana Trough
by admin

Jacques Ernest Piccard was born on the 28th of July 1922 (1922-2008) in Brussels, Belgium. His father Auguste was a famous scientist who discovered Uranium 235 (he also called it Actinuran).


In October 1927 Auguste was present at the fifth Solvay international conference about electrons and fotons in Brussels. The picture above shows Auguste in the upper left corner, Marie Curie is in the middle and in the front right corner is Albert Einstein. At the conference they discussed the Quantum Theory of Einstein.

Auguste became interested in hot air balloons as a way to observe the cosmic radiation in the upper atmosphere. With his experiments he proved a part of the Relativity Theory of Einstein. In 1931 reached a record height of 50.000 feet in a balloon with the first pressure cabin, becoming the first person to get to the stratosphere and return safely.

With his experiences with the balloon Auguste started to develop a vessel with which he could submerge into the sea. According to the laws of buoyancy external tanks of the vessel needed to be able to dump their lighter than water fuel in order to fill the tanks with sea water; this gave enough negative buoyancy to submerge.

In 1943 Jacques Piccard started studying Economics at the University of Geneva but he quitted to go to the French First army. After the war he became more and more interested in the activities of his father. In 1948 the first prototype, named Bathyscape, was made thanks to the money from a Belgium scientific foundation. This vessel successfully made a unmanned descent to 4.600 feet but was damaged during it’s return in rough seas. In 1953 a second version was built for the French Navy. The city of Trieste ordered a third version with which a record depth of 10.335 feet was reached near the Italian island Ponza.

Bathyscaphe tekening

In 1956 Jacques Piccard contacted the US Navy. He went, with his vessel Trieste, to San Diego to work together with scientists who were studying the biological and acoustic properties of deep scattering layers. Two years later the Navy bought the Trieste and they hired Piccard as a consultant. The Navy thought that the Trieste could also be useful in case of a submarine accident and saving the crew. In the first 17 months Trieste made 22 dives, breaking three depth records.

In the early morning of the 23th of January 1960 Jacques Piccard and Lt. Don Walsh, a submarine officer, entered the Trieste in the rough seas near Guam. This was the start of a 36.000 feet dive into the Challenger Deep gorge in the Mariana Trough.


The Trieste didn’t have equipment on board to do experiments because the purpose of the dive was to show that it could reach this depth. The descent was without any problems until, at 30.000 feet, Piccard en Walsh heard a loud crack. Non the less they continued their descent and finally they landed in a tobacco brown sludge at 35.800 feet. Walsh described the experience as “being in a big bowl of milk”. According to them they saw a new kind of shrimp and a flat fish but marine biologists later said that that wasn’t possible at this depth with a pressure of 17.000 psi.
After seeing the cracks in the windows of the Trieste Piccard after 20 minutes decided to start the ascent. Piccard and Walsh returned to the surface without any further problems.




The mission received world wide attention and later Jacques Piccard, together with well known geologist Robert Deitz, wrote the book ‘Seven Miles Down’.



Pic.: Jacques Piccard and Lt. Don Walsh receiving a medal from President Eisenhower

Rolex had developed a special watch, the Deep Sea Special, for the descent into the Mariana Trough. The watch was attached to the outside of the vessel and after the return to the surface the Rolex was still ticking happily after having withstood a pressure of 17.000 psi.





Jaap Bakker

July 22nd



From Hans Wilsdorf to the Oyster perpetual
by admin


On the 22nd of March 1881 Hans Wilsdorf was born in Kulmbach, Bavaria (D) into a successful, middle class family of iron mongers. Wilsdorf became an orphan at the age of twelve and he moved to his aunt and uncle. They directly sent him to boarding school in Coburg (40 km from his home). Wilsdorf had a terrible time here and he indulged himself completely in his schoolwork to survive. The fact that he learned the English language perfectely here was the first illustration of his brilliant thoughtfulness.

One day Wilsdorf decided that he had enough of school and he traveled to Switzerland to start working for a dealer in pearls. He started to learn the business and remarked that, without producing anything, they made good profit. Wilsdorf saw how the pearls were bought from different sources, sorted and sent to the juwelers after their grade was determined. Working here was a very useful experience for Wilsdorf.

Finally he got a job at the growing watch company Cuno-Korten in Switzerland. He was hired because he was fluent in English. Wilsdorf handled all corresponce with the British Empire and the US which were the richest nations. It was at this company that Wilsdorf’s lifelong passion for watches and their accuracy started.

The year 1905 was crucial for the start of Rolex, a couple of years later. Wilsdorf, together with his brother-in-law James Davis, started the watch import firm Wilsdorf & Davis in London.


Wilsdorf, yet again, showed to have great thoughtfulness. He foresaw a trend in which wrist watches would start to replace pocket watches. He convinced a small watch maker, Hermann Aegler in Bienne, to start making calibers that were small enough to fit in a wrist watch. The phenomenon wrist watch received a lot of cynism. With a nice pocket watch a man was respected and it was even said that a gentleman would rather wear a skirt than a wrist watch!
Watch makers feared that the watch would be too small to be accurate enough and that it could not withstand the constant movement of the wrist. They thought that dust and dirt were also going to cause trouble to the watch. Only a few watch makers dared to make wrist watches.

The reluctance of the watch industry motivated Wilsdorf to keep making wrist watches smaller and more accurate. In cooperation with Aegler, who now had a reputation of making good lever escapement watches, a small caliber was developed. The first order was a milestone because the worth of it (several 100.000s Swiss Francs) was five times the total capital of Wilsdorf & Davis.


From this moment on Wilsdorf fabricated and sold watches (case and caliber were imported from Bienne). He wanted his watches to be available for a broad public, not too expensive, stylish and accurate. Wilsdorf’s vision was again that of a genius. He offered the watches in a variety of cases: sports, casual, formal and other forms. Direct result from this was that the clients bought several watches, depending on what their activities were. The wrist watch became very popular among the sporting Upper Class in England.

All the parts of the watches came from different suppliers. At that time it was still common that the name of the supplier was stamped on the dial and the caliber. Wilsdorf realised that he very much needed to create his own watch brand to make a difference with all the others (which he also saw as inferior to his watches because he was the only one demanding strict tests before the watch was sold).


On the 2nd of July 1908 Wilsdorf & Davis registered the name ‘Rolex’ as trademark in La-Chaux-de-Fond. There are several stories about the origin of the word ‘Rolex’. Some say it is a combination of ‘Horlogerie’ and ‘Exquisite’ and others say it is short for ‘Rex Horologlorum’. But most likely Wilsdorf was inspired by George Eastman who in 1884 didn’t call his camera Eastman 25 but Kodak. Eastman had already said that a brand name has to be short, sharp and not prone to misspelling which would destroy it’s identity. Also important, because of trademark laws, was that the word didn’t mean anything.
For Wilsdorf it was also important that the name would fit nicely on the dial and that it was easy to pronounce in many languages.
Rumours say that Wilsdorf, during his morning ride in the tram, in sunny weather came up with the name ‘ROLEX’.

In the beginning Wilsdorf had an unforeseen battle to fight to get the name Rolex on the watch and not that of the supplier. During that period Rolex watches also wore the following names: X/L, W/D, Marconi, Genex, Rolco, Oyster and Tudor.

Next follows an overview of the most important facts in Rolex history leading to the Rolex Oyster perpetual:

- 1910: Test of a Rolex watch by the School of Horology in Bienne. It was graded excellent and received a chronometer certificate, the first wrist watch with this certificate.

- 1914: Class A Certificate from the Kew Observatory in England. First wrist watch to pass these tests, normally for large chronometers. Accurate in 5 positions and 3 different temperatures. From now on every Rolex chronometer got a Official Timing Certificate.

- 1919: After WOI import taxes were 33% and Wilsdorf was forced to leave England and go to Switzerland. In Geneva he founded Montres Rolex S.A.
Later Rolex S.A. of Geneva and Manufacture des Montres Rolex S.A. of Bienne (Jean Aegler) merged after which there was one company that was controlled by the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation (an institution with the intent to spend a part of the profit on non-profit organisations. The Foundation was founded in 1945 by Wilsdorf who had no children).

According to Wilsdorf there were 3 components that a wrist watch needed to have: precision, waterproof and self-winding (he even thought that one component was useless without the other two). Of course watch makers had been busy for years to try to fit the three components in one watch but they still hadn’t found a solution for the 2 most vulnerable parts: crown and winding system. It was clear to Wilsdorf that a watch was as good as the case could protect all the parts inside. This puzzle had become very relevant for Rolex because their watches were also sold in Africa and the Far East. The ships from England took so long to reach their destination that at the arrival 50% of the watches was rusted.

- 1926: The creation of the Rolex Oyster, a wrist watch with the crown screwed to the case with a twin lock system. Just like an Oyster the case was now water and air tight. To test the water resistance of the case they developed a test with which 0,05 mg of water could be detected when the case was under water. After intensive marketing and advertising the Rolex trademark was introduced in 1925 and from 1927 all the watches had ‘Rolex’ stamped on the inside of the case, the caliber and the dial.

- 1927: Mercedes Gleitze, a young stenographe from London, swimmed the Channel with a Rolex Oyster as part of her gear (see article: Mercedes Gleitze). Juwellers now had aquaria in their show rooms with gold fishes swimming around a Rolex Oyster; Oyster’s were now garanteed water proof to 100 m

The next event that showed that a Rolex was reliable under all circumstances was the flight that Lt. Cathgart Jones made. He flew from London to Melbourne and back, a trip of over 25.000 miles, after which his Rolex watch was only a couple of seconds of the right time.

- The last challenge for Rolex now was the development of an automatic winding system. Half way during the 19th century Abram-Louis Perrelet Senior, a watch maker from Le Locle, invented the first such system. Abram-Louis Breguet in Paris and Recordon in London perfected the system but is was only used for 20 years because it was much to vulnerable.

After WOI Englishman John Harwood invented an automatic winding sytem but still not good enough for Wilsdorf. The system had to be completely automatic, quiet, winding in both directions and no buffer coils. The main problem was how to protect the mainspring from getting overloaded because of the constant movements of the wrist.

- 1931: Emile Borer, head of technique at Rolex, invented the ‘Rotor’. Finally Rolex had found the solution and developed the ideal automatic winding system. The ‘Rotor’ had the shape of a half moon and with every movement of the wrist the Rotor followed because of gravity. It also turned out that the automatic watches were more accurate than the hand winding ones because the energy to the mainspring was much more constant

Jaap Bakker

July 21st


Sir Malcolm Campbell: the first Rolex on Daytona
by admin

“ World’s record speeds are decided by fractions of a second. Tuning a car for a world mark is therefore a battle against time. To win, you must have a combination of a perfect car, the right course and favorable weather. And I am going to add another requisite-luck, which always plays a large part in such undertakings. By luck I mean what Americans call having the ‘breaks’. Daytona Beach, Florida is the only place I know where it is possible to make world’s land-speed records. The sand packs almost as hard as cement, and there is sufficient length to get up speed. “ – Sir Malcolm Campbell (May 1932)


Pic.: Sir Malcolm Campbell wearing a Rolex Oyster

Malcolm Campbell was born in 1885 in Chislehurst, Kent, as the only son of William Campbell who was a diamond merchant in Hatton Garden. After being a student at Uppingham School Malcolm went to Germany to become a diamond dealer himself. In Germany he developed an interest in motorcycles and racing. Back in the UK he worked for Lloyd’s in London for two years, starting with an income zero the first year and a pound a week the next.

During the period from 1906 till 1908 he won all three of the London to Lakes End Trials (motorcycle races). In 1910 he started racing cars at Brooklands. He called his car Blue Bird, painted blue, after seeing the play The Blue Bird by Maurice Maeterlinck at the Haymarket Theatre.

During WWI he served in the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment and in the RAF.

Sir Malcolm Campbell became famous because all of the speed records on land and water that he broke. He also raced successfully in several Grand Prix car races. In 1927 and 1928 he won the Grand Prix de Boulogne in France driving a Bugatti T37A.

A list of his most important land speed records looks like this:

- The first time he broke the record was in 1924 with a speed of 146.16 mph (235.22 km/h) on Pendine Sands near Carmarthen Bay, driving a 350 bhp V12 Sunbeam (presently in the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu). Between 1924 and 1935 he broke 9 speed records, 3 on Pendine Sands and 5 on Daytona Beach. For the first two attemps he used a Sunbeam.

- On the 4th of February 1927 Campbell broke the record on Pendine Sands. He drove the ‘Flying Kilometre’ (the average of two attemps) with a speed of 174.883 mph (281.447 km/h) and the ‘Flying Mile’ with 17.224 mph (280.386 km/h). The car was the Napier-Campbell Blue Bird.

- On the 3rd of September 1935 he obtained his last land speed record on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah (US). He was the first person to drive more than 300 mph in a car, with an average of 301.337 mph (484.955 km/h) in two runs.

After having conquered land the next challenge for Campbell were the speed records on water. He developed his boat, called Bluebird, in Tilgate Lake, in Tilgate Park, Crawley, were he also tested the buoyancy of the boat.
He succeeded in braking 4 speed records on water, the highest speed being 141.740 mph (228.108 km/h) in the Bluebird K4 (the 19th of August 1939 in Coniston Water, UK).

Sir Malcolm Campbell died on the 31st of December 1948 after having several strokes. He was one of a few speed record holders on land who have died of natural causes.

Rolex and Sir Malcolm Campbell have always been close, as the following pictures illustrate.


Pic.: An ad from 1933 featuring the Rolex Oyster that Campbell wore during his record attempt. In these days people were very proud paying for their Rolex themselves and Campbell didn’t want to get any money from Rolex. Chuck Yeager (first man to fly above Mach 1 in 1947) had the same pride


Pic.: Rolex advertisement from 1930. The picture dates back to 1927 when Campbell broke yet another land speed record on Pendine Sands. With his Bluebird Napier-Lion, 12 cilinders and 450 bhp, he drove 174.88 mph (279.81 km/h)


Pic.: Campbell at Daytona Beach clearly wearing his Rolex over his sleave


MalCam:BB kleur

MalCam:BB'27MalCam:speedlimit waterMalCam:BBboot'49

Jaap Bakker

July 21st