Throw Back Thursday – The Rolex 6200 Submariner from Original Owner…
As some of you will be aware, Bulang & Sons has a rich heritage going back to the days when Bernhard ran his groundbreaking blog ‘100 Percent Rolex’, the original ‘Rolex Passion’ website.
The ‘100 Percent Rolex’ archive is incredible and so we will be republishing some of the classic posts each Thursday here on the Bulang & Sons…our own throwback thursday tbt!
This weeks is a great read – enjoy!
You never know when and if. But that e-mail you always hope for in your collecting-passion always comes unexpected and by total surprise. Read this amazing story of connecting dreams!
Just one word…. totally blown away. My mouth fell on the desk when i opened that e-mail.
” I have Rolex 6200 was purchased by my father while on duty in Africa between 1953 and 1955. It has the stainless steel spring bracelet, which is in excellent condition. I have taken to a local authorised Rolex dealer to take photos inside the watch. I will be happy to forward the photos…”
And i got soooo wet hands. And total panic. The dream of every vintage Rolex collector. The mother of all Rolex Submariners right at hand. But no funds to reach this grail for myself. More mails…. real nice mails. Which showed not only images from ‘low’ quality (which already makes it more then exciting 😉 )… but more important contact to a great men. Who wants to make sure, that his fathers watch with great and big emotions will find a great home. Collectors home.
The original owner really wanted to find a home, which will respect it’s history and will cherish it with passion. So it will be saved for the next generation. As he also did with a boat he and his wife had great adventures with… and was now in hands of family. Finding new adventure. Which will add to the emotion and passion about this ship.
For me this was the most important part. And what makes finding original owner watches so great. The history and stories behind such pieces. It is easy to run to a dealer and toss the money on the table to get your dreams. But finding them from original owners. And all the emotion along that makes it so much more special.
But the dilemma was there….. it could not stay with me ;-( Ohhhhhhh so hard. The chance of a lifetime maybe.
I offered to help anyway… to help him find a ‘collectors’ hart. A place where it would be loved and cherished for the next years.
Well the people who know me, know… i am always happy to help. And there is one guy who was the perfect match.
My friend Philipp told me already about his 6200 love 5 years ago. At the very beginning of my Rolex love he told me that the 6200 is his biggest grail. The TOP of his collecting dreams for so many years. Over the last years we often talked about it. He often was at a point to hit. But it never matched right.
For me it was perfect to step aside and to help 2 great people to get together and make it happen. In a real great and positive way. As it is a real big thing for both of them. It’s great to be of help in archiving dreams or/and real important goals in life. I feel this are real great situations. Where it has to be as ‘positive’ and smooth for both of the parties.
Within 3 days it was all done and Philipp was on it’s way to collect the watch. I was left behind. In tears to let go of one of my dreams. But soooooo happy for my friend. Who helped me so much over the years and infected me with the Rolex bug. It felt like the circle closed again. As it had to be like this.
I am so happy for both the parties.
To the original owner i can only say (as i know he reads also my blog). Big thanks for your trust and i am so happy it worked out great for all of you. Sorry i could not join the pick-up.
And for my friend… i am only can be soooooo happy as he has now one of the super rare 6200 Submariners. His big grail. And even rarer… from an original owner with great provenance.
Rolex 6200 Submariner
So here is some info about 6200 in general.
The 6200 is a reference produced about 1954. The final date’s are not sure yet. There was only a small number of production in a tied serial range 31.9xx – 32.2xx. With 3 different dial versions. It was the first big crown (8 mm winding crown) and is the mother of all Submariners and Seadweller to me! The movement was the cal. A296/775 bubbleback. It has a great ‘super domed’ plexi and was the first Sub with 200 mtr’s water-resistant. Smallcrowns are 100 mtr.
Later it was followed by the ref 6538 and 5510 with 1030 movement. Before end of the ’50th Rolex came up with the ref. 5512 with crown guards as they still have today (in different shape so).
What we often see on the 6200 is that they many surface in the USA. And that a lot of them have military provenance. Like this one.
Here is some of it’s provenance…… (only parts of it):
” My father would often talk about the hard life as a farmer during the…..when World War II started he enlisted in the Navy.
During that time he completed his depression years….
…. This made him eligible for what the military called “A “school
and he was sent to school to be an aircraft engine mechanic. When he completed that training
he was assigned to a PBY submarine hunter squadron. For the second half of World War II the
squadron was assigned to Galapagos Island. He used to pronounce the islands name as “Gal – o –
peg-us”. It took a while to figure out what island he was talking about. He would tell stories about
spending the endless isolated hours riding the tortoises …..
His next duty station was some time around the beginning of 1947 and was a very short stint in
China just before they closed their doors to all other nations.
From there he left the Navy and returned to Wisconsin to go back into family farming. It only took
six months to realise he was no longer a farmer.
He re-enlisted in the Navy. Because of his mechanical background and good record he was sent to
Jet Engine school. You need to understand that is was the newest type of engines being introduced
into the military and he was in on the ground floor for maintenance and repair. While in school at
Pratt & Whitney in Connecticut he met and married my mother. That is a story all unto itself. After
completing Jet school he was assigned to an A3 Sky Warrior squadron station in Maine. Late in
1953 he was assigned to the Naval air station in Africa. I was just a youngster when my father and
family were stationed at Port Lyaute (now Kenitra) Morocco. The Navy was kind enough to allow
my farther to travel with the family on the Atlantic crossing. That was an auspicious moment in
our family’s history because the A3 aircraft he was to be on crashed at sea with all hands lost
Port Lyaute in the 1950’s
I have a very limited knowledge of his actual duties while at this station. He would never talk
about what he did. He would say that they were flying missions over the coast and up to Gibraltar
keeping and eye on shipping and submarine activity. By this time my father was not only an
engine mechanic but the enlisted “plane captain” and part of the flight crew. I am sure this was
because he could identify and fix aircraft problems both while in flight and on the ground.
My mother became pregnant with my younger sister while stationed at Port Lyaute. This also was
when my father started wearing the Rolex. Later in life when I asked him where got the watch he
would only say in Port Lyaute. My mother would say she won it in a Bingo game. I think this was
a diversion because my father never talked about what he did. My mother knew that I would talk
about my father’s new watch and I am sure she hoped that is the story I would tell. She was right;
it was not until much after her death that my father would talk a little about Port Lyaute. What I
gathered is my mother was terrified of his flights with that squadron. That while the wars were
over, she considered the missions my father was flying extremely risky.
My mother could not wait to get out of Africa, and in 1955 the squadron was assigned to a little
base known Naval Air Station Chincoteague on the eastern shore of Virginia. Today it is called
Wallops Island Flight Center and is part of NASA. …..
……..During that time I sat with my father and we talked about his youth, his Wisconsin family, my mother and his career.
When I asked about the watch and Africa he would not go into great detail other that it was not a
nice place to live. When I asked how he got the watch he would only say “what did your mother
When I asked about Naval Air Station Chincoteague he was more talkative. At that time he was
still attached to the squadron with the A3. By this time they only had one or two planes left in
the squadron and they were assigned to the Navy Flight Test in Patuxant River. He told me that
they were working with dropping “shapes”. When I asked what that meant the story he told was
amazing. The “shape” was an empty atomic bomb. It had all the parts except the explosive. In it
place there were scientific instrumentations. The plane would fly various missions depending on
what was being tested. Some times the drops were both high and low level used to help develop
better radar detection protocol for the Wallops Island radar station. Most of the time the shapes
were used to gather information about very high altitude entry or re-entry tests. They wanted to
learn what would happen to the shape and the equipment as it fell tens of thousands of feet from
subzero temperatures. He would talk about how cold his station near the bomb bay doors was.
Bitter cold would have been considered warm by the way my father talked about his adventures.
My father’s job was not only to make sure all the mechanical systems worked but to record times
and related information as speed, altitude, time to arm and drop, time to clear the probable blast
zone and how time changed if adjustments were made to any of the shapes parameters.
In 1959 the Navy no longer needed that program and my father was reassigned to aircraft carrier
out of Alameda Naval base near San Francisco. From 1959 until 1963 we did not see much of my
father. He would be on board the aircraft carrier Ranger and at sea 7 to 9 months a year. During
this time he became a Chief. This promotion sent him back to a Pratt and Whitney and Navy A
school where he learned how to service and repair A4 Sky Hawks. The sky Hawk was one of the
Navy’s smallest fighter/bomber to be able to deliver an atomic weapon. After his schooling the
family was transferred to La Moore Naval Air Station where he became the Master Chief for Attack
Squadron 93. Again during this time he was stationed aboard the USS Ranger and gone 7 to 9
months yearly. When he was home the squadron would be “on the road” several weeks at a time.
He never said where they were going but a map will show the ultra secret Area 51was just a few
hundred miles over the mountains. Just to put things in prospective in the early 1960’s Le Moore
was just a small base in the middle of a big desert. The only thing we ever saw was cactus, bugs
and snakes and lots and lots of sand.
In 1963 my father’s final assignment was at Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach Virginia.
Here he was the Senior Master Chief until his retirement in 1965.
…….. One of the projects my father was most proud of was when the Navy was
having problems with launching Tomcats from a carrier. The pilot would run the engines to full
power and the cat would launch the aircraft. The fuel system was so sophisticated that it would
read the acceleration and adjust fuel flow accordingly. Unfortunately when the aircraft left the end
of the carrier it would decelerate and start to drop toward the ocean. The navy lost several aircraft
this way and a team was developed at the NARF & P&W to solve the problem. The final solution –
at my fathers suggestion- put a landing gear over ride switch in. This would not let the fuel control
take over until the landing gear was up and locked. Problem solved, from a quite simple man who
understood jet engines and airplanes.
It was while he was working at the NARF that my father stopped wearing his Rolex. It sat on top
of our refrigerator for years. When I asked him why he was no longer wearing it, he told me it
was too dangerous to wear at the NARF, that there were to many places that would crush it on his
wrist or it could get caught and drag his hand into a moving part or machine.
From that time on my father only occasionally wore his Rolex. In his later years he said it was to
heavy on his wrist. It was during that time that I asked if he would allow me to have it as part of
my inheritance. He was never a man of opulence or jewellery and never realized the intrinsic or
monetary value of his Rolex. He said I could have it any time I wanted it.
When G. and I were talking about sailing around the world I asked my father if I could take the
watch. He gladly passed it on to me. As I stated earlier I considered having it refurbished. I knew
its value only as part of my life. I did not have it refurbished because I did not feel comfortable
sending it off and taking the chance on something being changed out of the watch.
…… In November of 2008 I wore the watch as I and 3 other men sailed Elusion (our HR 49 sailboat)
to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. It was a 9 ½ day offshore trip in which I wore the watch
the entire time. The seas were big and the winds were strong. Wind speed averaged 35 knots and
wave height 5 to 8 meters on average. I chose the 12 midnight to 3 am watch as that best fit my
circadian rhythms. There were several nights when standing watch that I would look out over the
star filled silvery sea and think of my father. Hoping he was looking down on me saying, “ Kirt is
finally living his dream.” At the end the race when times were corrected for handicap Elusion was
the overall winner. That was a wonderful start for our sailing adventure.
By the following February G. was ready to sail and we began a 3 year exploration of the
Leeward and Windward Islands. We explored every island from Grenada to the Bahamas ……
If the Rolex could talk it would tell a great story I am sure, from….Africa to Grenada and all across the United States with G. and me, and around the world with my father.”
So here you see. Collecting vintage Rolex at it’s best. A great rare watch… with great provenance. Toolwatch at it best. Here you see what Rolex can hold after almost 60 years of life. From the dessert of Marocco. The freezing cold at 30.000 feet and all over the ocean. How amazing is that??!?!?!?!?!?
For me…. finding more of these great stories and original owner watches is my way forward in collecting. Can’t wait till the next mail and new story!
And here it is at full glory !
This plexi was on there. See the patina!!
Look at the hands. Almost 60 years of radium patina. You can see the Rolex crown right through it ! Amazing detail!
See the case…
Patina is something total amazing. I am not sure if that ever can be copied. Hope not!
And here is Bigcrown heaven to me. Two friends together. 6200 and 5510. Both so rare.
I am very proud of being part of this story. And friendship.
Hope both watches will enjoy a long lasting passionate life.