Rolex Datejust

Watches with a military past

Rolex: Datejust from Vietnam

Watches with a military history are very popular with collectors. Most people probably think of Military Rolex Submariner or Blancpain “Bundeswehr” first Watches, often with the antiradiation symbol on the dial. These watches are very expensive today, especially the Military Rolex Submariner.

I wonder what’s in that box

Originally this box contained a Datejust reference 1603 on a Jubilee steel band, which was unfortunately very “rocked” and therefore had to be replaced by a better preserved band.


At the same time, there are also watches that were not expressly issued for the military. This watch here comes from the USA, and was probably in the previous possession of a former high-ranking American soldier or officer who served in Vietnam.

After more than 40 years it rarely happens that Rolex or other vintage watches still have papers proving the origin of the watch. This watch not only has the old Rolex certificate, but also the original invoice.

The most interesting thing about this watch is actually the bill. The invoice was issued in Vietnam by an American military base (APO). Funnily enough, the seller committed himself to the reference of the watch, he wrote in 1063, while the watch is a 1603 reference. By the way, APO stands for “Army Post Office”, which is indicated here with the number 96490.

What appealed to me was to find out who the man who owned that watch was. One advantage for finding out more about him is the so-called”Social Security Number” which every American has and which is entered on this receipt. Based on this number I was able to find out whether the original owner of this watch was still alive or whether he was killed in the Vietnam War. The Rolex buyer considered the war and died at the age of 84. Which I regretted very much. I must have bought the watch in the same year.

Who would have thought a watch would have so much to say?

Contributor Boris Pjanic is a collector and enthusiast of vintage Rolex watches. He is the founder of the watch blog and author of various watch contributions for websites and international magazines.


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