Pre-owned watch specialist Bob’s Watches is set to auction a Rolex GMT Master that was bought in the late ’60s by Thomas Francis Finley Jr., a U.S. Navy veteran who served for 28 years.
Finley piloted an H3 helicopter for a number of special operations, including the retrieval of the astronauts from Apollo 14 after splashing down in the South Pacific Ocean on Feb. 9, 1971. While on these missions he wore a Rolex GMT-Master ref. 1675 from circa 1968, which will be auctioned through the Bob’s Watches auction platform.
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Complete with box and papers, the timepiece comes directly from the original owner, Tom Finley, who purchased it in 1969 in Hong Kong at Artland Watch Co. while on a weeklong “shore leave” during Vietnam, after his issued field watch flooded.
The watch itself comes in a 40mm-wide stainless steel case, featuring a faded “Pepsi” bezel and a black dial — not without obvious signs of scratches and wear — the dial remains in good condition with a unique patina and an automatic 1575 caliber that’s equipped with time and day indication.
“The opportunity to auction a watch like this is both an honor and a tribute to the remarkable history of U.S. space exploration. This Rolex isn’t just a timepiece; it’s a tangible connection to the bravery and adventures of the Apollo 14 mission. It embodies the spirit of innovation and courage that defined a pivotal moment in our history,” said Paul Altieri, founder and chief executive officer, Bob’s Watches, to WWD.
The auction, titled “The Apollo 14 Ocean Recovery GMT,” will last for five days, starting on Friday and ending on Tuesday, and will feature other historical artifacts from the time that belonged to Finley. With no reserve or buyer’s premium, the watch is expected to sell for approximately $15,000 to $30,000.
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