A gold Rolex once owned and worn by one of the earliest pilots in the "Thunderbirds" Air Demonstration Unit will land in the collection of a new owner when it is offered in Heritage Auctions
' Watches & Fine Timepieces Auction June 1.
The Exceedingly Rare Yellow Gold Rolex Wristwatch Presented To And Owned By Thunderbird Pilot Herman E. Griffin, Ref. 6605, circa 1958 (estimate: $25,000-35,000) comes to Heritage Auctions directly from the family of Capt. Griffin, complete with impeccable provenance that includes five 10-by-8-inch black-and-white photos of the Thunderbird team in the late 1950s; four of the images clearly show Capt. Griffin wearing this watch.
"The Thunderbirds were a very important unit in the Air Force, showcasing the latest advancement in America's fighter technology," Heritage Auctions Watches & Fine Timepieces Director Jim Wolf said. "They presented a series of formation aerobatics, and to many, they were the public face of the Air Force. Millions of people have seen Thunderbirds shows, but since their inception over half a century ago, only 325 officers have been a part of the team. Anything that comes from one of these officers, especially in the early years, is a piece of history and an undeniable rarity."
This extraordinary timepiece comes with impressive assemblage of accessories, including inner and outer boxes, a Swimpruf tag, a chronometer tag, a strap band, an embossed leather bifold holding the original Rolex guarantee papers (numbered and dated Oct. 29, 1958), a chronometer certificate, an instruction leaflet and the Bureaux Suisses chronometer rating certificate (certified by Rolex, New York, in October 1958).
The matte white face, housed in an 18k yellow gold case that is engraved "Herman E. Griffin, The Thunderbirds," features the Thunderbird emblem. It includes a "roulette" red and black date wheel, applied gold arrowhead markers and gold baton hands.