A couple of weeks ago, while on a long weekend break in Copenhagen, we thought it would be a great idea to swing by Bruun Rasmussen’s offices to have a look at some of the timepieces coming up for auction in their June sale. Last May we highlighted a gem of a Rolex “Paul Newman” Daytona that wasn’t only well-preserved but had quite the back story and naturally performed very well. This time round amongst their watch lots they have, a GMT-Master that also has some very intriguing provenance.
ROLEX GMT-MASTER 1675
The Rolex GMT has quite a bit of history. The GMT has long been connected with aviation and as you may be aware it was made at the request of Pan-Am (Pan America World Airways), who required a wristwatch that could display multiple time zones simultaneously, during their transatlantic flights. Of course, having an accurate wristwatch as a pilot in those days was absolutely paramount. The GMT-Master wasn’t only popular among Pan-Am pilots but also NASA, US Air Force pilots and of course the serial jet-setter.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Rolex GMT-Master is, arguably, more revered than the Submariner. Why? Perhaps the actual everyday usefulness is much more appreciated and there is also the point of, when you have a GMT, you just kind of have a GMT. Not to say there aren’t subtle differences between them but each one just seems to be appreciated for what it is.
This particular example, as mentioned, has a very intriguing history. Of course, collectors tend to gravitate towards timepieces that have a deep connection to past events and boy does this lot have one. Originally purchased by one Captain Ernest D. Sprinkel, who was a Commander of the U.S. Headquarter and moreover, even wore this lot during the Vietnam War. Captain Sprinkel was a helicopter pilot for the 269th Combat Aviation Battalion known as the “Black Barons”. Captain Sprinkel along with the “Black Barons” was deployed to Vietnam at Fort Bragg in July 1966 and arrived in the Republic of Vietnam in January 1967, where he was responsible for key airmobile operations conducted in the III Corps tactical zone.
This example from 1966 features a glossy dial with gilt text, with markers that have aged gracefully to a warm cream colour, but as you’ll notice the dial reads “Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified” (COSC), though not as rare as those with OCC dials, it still displays charming qualities. To top it off, the hands also exhibit the same patination as the dial and if that wasn’t enough, the original small arrow GMT hand is intact. That said, it would appear the bezel and bracelet have been replaced, likely some point during service. Perhaps the only moot point about this piece are those two small details mentioned, nonetheless, this doesn’t take away its stunning provenance.
Furthermore, this lot is also accompanied by Captain Ernest D. Sprinkel’s 269th battalion helicopter pilot’s helmet, box, original certificate and original receipt of purchase from Cu Chi, Vietnam on the 29th April 1967.
Estimate: DKK 100,000 – 150,000 (€13,500 – 20,000)
OMEGA SPEEDMASTER CK2998 “LOLLIPOP”
We’ve highlighted quite a few Speedmasters over the years and just how nuanced and important they are. Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen a sharp increase in prices and some record setting auction prices – mostly for early examples. In my opinion, early Speedmasters are just as rare as early Daytonas from the same decade, in fact I’d say they’re actually rarer. The CK2998 is one of my favourites from the pre-moon era of Speedmaster’s and is in fact the first Speedmaster to be worn in space by Walter “Wally” Schirra during the Mercury program’s sigma 7 mission.
This rare Speedmaster CK2998-3 is the 3rd variant of this reference. It sports a matte black dial with luminous markers, three subsidiary dials, recording hours, minutes and continuous seconds; which appears to be in remarkable condition. As the 3rd variant, it features steel Alpha minute and hour hands and white Alpha sub dial hands and the all-important lollipop chronograph seconds hand, with its lume intact; another sign that this example has been looked after. Inside is the revered calibre 321 movement. The 40mm case is fitted with a black Tachymetre bezel that appears to be period correct, though this does show signs of wear, but it has patinated to a nice blueish/grey.
Estimate: DKK 125,000 – 150,000 (€16,500 – 20,000)
ROLEX SUBMARINER 6204
For a Rolex collector, there is perhaps nothing more satisfying than a Submariner but let’s not forget there is a sub collection of the Submariner. A Submariner always proves to be an interesting talking point among collectors but of course there is always an element of one-upmanship, after all it is one of the most iconic and popular watch models ever made – so naturally having one of its rarer cousins is a point for conversation. This reference 6204, dating from 1954, is the very first generation model featuring the Submariner’s earliest design case without crown guards. Perhaps the standout features of this ref. 6204 Submariner is its black glossy dial (which shows signs of aging), which sports a chapter ring and display lume which has nicely patinated over the years to a warm cream hue. The case and bracelet display signs of wear but has been rather well preserved, with a bezel that has discoloured to a blueish-grey – adding character.
Estimate: DKK 150,000 – 200,000 (€20,000 – 27,000)
For more lot information on Bruun Rasmussen’s upcoming auction that will take place on Thursday the 6th June, visit their official website to view the entire catalogue.