Rolex Datejust Turn-O-Graph 'Thunderbird'

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REF 1625/8
Automatic
36 MM
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SKU AS03815
ref 1625/8
case size 36 MM
movement Automatic Winding
approximate age 1960s
dial color Silver
material Yellow Gold
style Aviator
category Vintage
bracelet Metal
Includes Includes 18k solid link Jubilee bracelet with #49 end links and signed clasp.
REF 1625/8
Automatic
36 MM
+ View all
SKU AS03815
ref 1625/8
case size 36 MM
movement Automatic Winding
approximate age 1960s
dial color Silver
material Yellow Gold
style Aviator
category Vintage
bracelet Metal
Includes Includes 18k solid link Jubilee bracelet with #49 end links and signed clasp.

Why We Love it

While there are many vintage watches that have bonafide aviation pedigrees, very few are associated with an elite flying unit like the Thunderbirds.

Except this watch: the Rolex Datejust Turn-O-Graph.

Launched the year before the Submariner, the Turn-O-Graph was, in many ways, the manufacture’s first tool watch. Rolex intended for it to be a substitute for a chronograph, which—as a wristwatch with a complication—was generally more expensive than a time-only watch. In lieu of a chronograph, Rolex intended for the bezel (which Rolex called the "time-recording rim") to be used to record elapsed time; by aligning the arrow of the turning bezel with the minute hand, the wearer could quickly keep a count of the passing minutes.

Understandably, Rolex marketed the Turn-O-Graph to business travelers and pilots. At the time the Turn-O-Graph was released, the GMT Master—that epitome of a pilot’s watch—was still a few years from existence. Therefore, in lieu of a dedicated pilot’s watch, many pilots turned to the Turn-O-Graph as a solid alternative.

In fact, the next reference of Turn-O-Graph would be worn by the Thunderbirds themselves.

In 1956, Rolex released a new reference of Turn-O-Graph: Reference 6609. This model would differ drastically from its predecessors. Unlike the previous models, which but for the bezel would be virtually indistinguishable from the Submariner, the Reference 6609 was built around the 36mm Oyster case used in the Rolex Datejust.

Rolex would offer this new reference of Turn-O-Graph to the Thunderbirds, a squadron of the U.S. Air Force known for acrobatic demonstrations and experimental flying techniques. Formed following the Second World War, the Thunderbirds were unquestionably one of the most elite units in the Air Force. Its pilots were the best of the best, and their planes—the F100 Super Sabre, the first fighter used by the United States that was capable of supersonic speed—were the creme de la creme.

For the pilots of such an elite unit, they needed an elite watch. Accordingly, they were equipped with solid 18K gold versions of the Reference 6609. Rolex touted that fact in an ad campaign, showing the new Rolex 'Thunderbird'—complete with the Thunderbirds’ logo—on a blue background while F100s soared above.

So iconic was this association that Rolex used the name Thunderbird to designate all subsequent Turn-O-Graphs sold on the American market; such is the case with the Reference that followed it, the 1625.

While solid yellow gold Rolexes can be polarizing, there’s something about the Reference 1625 that speaks anachronistically to the sporty elegance that’s inherent to the model. Not a bulky 39mm model like a Submariner or GMT-Master or as elegant and clean as a Day-Date, the 1625/8 Thunderbird in 18K has a more rarified air than a mere tool watch.

This particular example is in excellent condition throughout, having been spared the common over-polishing dial edge wear common to the model. And fitted to a matching solid gold Jubilee bracelet like, it adds some serious gusto to any get up  - even an olive-drab flight suit. 

Overall Condition

The case is in great condition overall showing light signs of prior polishing and normal wear consistent with age and use. Sunburst silver dial is in very good condition with very minor lume degradation at 8:00 and rich patina to the Tritium luminous elements and matching handset. 18K rotating timing bezel. Signed crown.

Brand Story

+
Though much younger than many of its heavy-hitting horological cousins, Rolex has been at the fore of contemporary watch design virtually since its inception in 1905 by founder Hans Wilsdorf. A veritable marketing genius, Wilsdorf understood the power of story, associating his watches with the most notable and intrepid athletes, explorers, soldiers and politicians of the 20th century. His efforts were clearly successful: Today, the word “Rolex” is nearly synonymous in the minds of millions around the word with “watch.”

From the early waterproof Oyster case of the 1920s through to the ultra-complicated Sky Dweller of today, Rolex models and innovations have captivated a global audience and permeated the zeitgeist unlike those of any other brand. Whether it’s a simple, time-only Air King, a function-first Submariner or a complicated GMT Master II for the jet set, a Rolex commands a certain respect on the wrist and says something about the discerning eye of its owner.

From the swimming of the English channel in 1927 to the scaling of Mt. Everest in 1953, Rolex watches have been associated with adventure for the better part of a century. Despite its association since the 1970s more with luxury and status than with commando operations behind enemy lines or sporting achievements, Rolex still makes one of the most robust timepieces available on the contemporary market. And the company continues to support scientific endeavors around the world.

Interestingly, for most of the firm’s history, Rolex largely did not produce its components in-house, including its movements. (Indeed, hand-wound Daytonas sold today at auction for eye-watering prices feature run-of-the-mill Valjoux movements that feature in watches from hundreds of other brands). It wasn’t until the early 21st century that Rolex became the vertically integrated manufacturing behemoth that it is today, purchasing everything from movement manufacturers to bracelet companies. (Notably, the Crown even forges its own gold.)

Whether one is attracted to the rich history of the brand or simply finds its products notable from an investment perspective, Rolex is a company whose wares are guaranteed to remain a benchmark for horological quality forever.

A:S Guarantee

+

Our Pledge

Analog:Shift stands behind the authenticity of our products in perpetuity.

Condition

Since our pieces are vintage or pre-owned, please expect wear & patina from usage and age. Please read each item description and examine all product images.

Warranty

We back each Analog:Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.

International Buyers

Please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options.

Shipping & Returns

+

All of our watches include complementary insured shipping within the 50 states.

Most of our products are on hand and will ship directly from our headquarters in New York City. In some cases, watches will be shipped directly from one of our authorized partners.

We generally ship our products via FedEx, fully insured, within 5 business days of purchase. An adult signature is required for receipt of all packages for insurance purposes. Expedited shipping is available at an additional cost. We are also happy to hand deliver your purchase in Manhattan or you may pick it up at our showroom.

Returns must be sent overnight or by priority international delivery, fully insured and paid for by the customer. A restocking fee may apply. Watches must be returned in the same condition as initially shipped.

We welcome international buyers, please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options.

Rolex Datejust Turn-O-Graph 'Thunderbird'

Rolex Datejust Turn-O-Graph 'Thunderbird'

Sold
Sold
Rolex Datejust Turn-O-Graph 'Thunderbird'

Why We Love it

While there are many vintage watches that have bonafide aviation pedigrees, very few are associated with an elite flying unit like the Thunderbirds.

Except this watch: the Rolex Datejust Turn-O-Graph.

Launched the year before the Submariner, the Turn-O-Graph was, in many ways, the manufacture’s first tool watch. Rolex intended for it to be a substitute for a chronograph, which—as a wristwatch with a complication—was generally more expensive than a time-only watch. In lieu of a chronograph, Rolex intended for the bezel (which Rolex called the "time-recording rim") to be used to record elapsed time; by aligning the arrow of the turning bezel with the minute hand, the wearer could quickly keep a count of the passing minutes.

Understandably, Rolex marketed the Turn-O-Graph to business travelers and pilots. At the time the Turn-O-Graph was released, the GMT Master—that epitome of a pilot’s watch—was still a few years from existence. Therefore, in lieu of a dedicated pilot’s watch, many pilots turned to the Turn-O-Graph as a solid alternative.

In fact, the next reference of Turn-O-Graph would be worn by the Thunderbirds themselves.

In 1956, Rolex released a new reference of Turn-O-Graph: Reference 6609. This model would differ drastically from its predecessors. Unlike the previous models, which but for the bezel would be virtually indistinguishable from the Submariner, the Reference 6609 was built around the 36mm Oyster case used in the Rolex Datejust.

Rolex would offer this new reference of Turn-O-Graph to the Thunderbirds, a squadron of the U.S. Air Force known for acrobatic demonstrations and experimental flying techniques. Formed following the Second World War, the Thunderbirds were unquestionably one of the most elite units in the Air Force. Its pilots were the best of the best, and their planes—the F100 Super Sabre, the first fighter used by the United States that was capable of supersonic speed—were the creme de la creme.

For the pilots of such an elite unit, they needed an elite watch. Accordingly, they were equipped with solid 18K gold versions of the Reference 6609. Rolex touted that fact in an ad campaign, showing the new Rolex 'Thunderbird'—complete with the Thunderbirds’ logo—on a blue background while F100s soared above.

So iconic was this association that Rolex used the name Thunderbird to designate all subsequent Turn-O-Graphs sold on the American market; such is the case with the Reference that followed it, the 1625.

While solid yellow gold Rolexes can be polarizing, there’s something about the Reference 1625 that speaks anachronistically to the sporty elegance that’s inherent to the model. Not a bulky 39mm model like a Submariner or GMT-Master or as elegant and clean as a Day-Date, the 1625/8 Thunderbird in 18K has a more rarified air than a mere tool watch.

This particular example is in excellent condition throughout, having been spared the common over-polishing dial edge wear common to the model. And fitted to a matching solid gold Jubilee bracelet like, it adds some serious gusto to any get up  - even an olive-drab flight suit. 

Overall Condition

The case is in great condition overall showing light signs of prior polishing and normal wear consistent with age and use. Sunburst silver dial is in very good condition with very minor lume degradation at 8:00 and rich patina to the Tritium luminous elements and matching handset. 18K rotating timing bezel. Signed crown.

Brand Story

+
Though much younger than many of its heavy-hitting horological cousins, Rolex has been at the fore of contemporary watch design virtually since its inception in 1905 by founder Hans Wilsdorf. A veritable marketing genius, Wilsdorf understood the power of story, associating his watches with the most notable and intrepid athletes, explorers, soldiers and politicians of the 20th century. His efforts were clearly successful: Today, the word “Rolex” is nearly synonymous in the minds of millions around the word with “watch.”

From the early waterproof Oyster case of the 1920s through to the ultra-complicated Sky Dweller of today, Rolex models and innovations have captivated a global audience and permeated the zeitgeist unlike those of any other brand. Whether it’s a simple, time-only Air King, a function-first Submariner or a complicated GMT Master II for the jet set, a Rolex commands a certain respect on the wrist and says something about the discerning eye of its owner.

From the swimming of the English channel in 1927 to the scaling of Mt. Everest in 1953, Rolex watches have been associated with adventure for the better part of a century. Despite its association since the 1970s more with luxury and status than with commando operations behind enemy lines or sporting achievements, Rolex still makes one of the most robust timepieces available on the contemporary market. And the company continues to support scientific endeavors around the world.

Interestingly, for most of the firm’s history, Rolex largely did not produce its components in-house, including its movements. (Indeed, hand-wound Daytonas sold today at auction for eye-watering prices feature run-of-the-mill Valjoux movements that feature in watches from hundreds of other brands). It wasn’t until the early 21st century that Rolex became the vertically integrated manufacturing behemoth that it is today, purchasing everything from movement manufacturers to bracelet companies. (Notably, the Crown even forges its own gold.)

Whether one is attracted to the rich history of the brand or simply finds its products notable from an investment perspective, Rolex is a company whose wares are guaranteed to remain a benchmark for horological quality forever.

A:S Guarantee

+

Our Pledge

Analog:Shift stands behind the authenticity of our products in perpetuity.

Condition

Since our pieces are vintage or pre-owned, please expect wear & patina from usage and age. Please read each item description and examine all product images.

Warranty

We back each Analog:Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.

International Buyers

Please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options.

Shipping & Returns

+

All of our watches include complementary insured shipping within the 50 states.

Most of our products are on hand and will ship directly from our headquarters in New York City. In some cases, watches will be shipped directly from one of our authorized partners.

We generally ship our products via FedEx, fully insured, within 5 business days of purchase. An adult signature is required for receipt of all packages for insurance purposes. Expedited shipping is available at an additional cost. We are also happy to hand deliver your purchase in Manhattan or you may pick it up at our showroom.

Returns must be sent overnight or by priority international delivery, fully insured and paid for by the customer. A restocking fee may apply. Watches must be returned in the same condition as initially shipped.

We welcome international buyers, please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options.

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