Journey To The Crown: The Personal Rolex Watches Of Team Watchonista
From sentimental gifts to lucky finds, Team Watchonista shares our personal Rolex tales.
On one side, watches are functional micro-mechanical objects that indicate the time, and on the other, they are emotional possessions that become part of our lives. Today, Watchonista’s team members share some of the emotion about their love for Rolex and the pieces they appreciate the most.
Marco Gabella’s Everyday Tool: The Rolex GMT-Master II Pepsi
I started collecting watches in the mid-1990s. Rolex was not really my thing at the time, as other brands were far more popular on the second-hand market. In hindsight, maybe I should have invested, especially considering the astronomical prices that certain references reach today.
A few years later, I had the opportunity to purchase my first Rolex, a GMT-Master II ref. 16750, from the 1980s. The functionality blew me away. The fact that it could inform a pilot of the time at the place of departure as well as the place of arrival just fascinated me. I loved how the legendary “Pepsi” bezel, with its 12-hour sections divided into red and blue zones, allowed the user to know whether it was day or night.
For years, I have heard sarcastic comments about the jubilee strap on this watch, but for me, it was the authentic professional “comfortable” bracelet for the pilot whose arms remained glued to the controls for hours on end. But since the release of the new Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 126710 BLRO on a jubilee bracelet in 2018, such remarks have mysteriously ceased!
As Watchonista is present in both Switzerland and New York, this watch keeps me in close contact with our two time zones and avoids any calls too early or too late.
Alexander Friedman’s Precious Pre-Daytona Ref. 6238
My most precious Rolex is the ref. 6238 in steel with a black dial. The so-called pre-Daytona is rare and exclusive, and far sexier than any other top chrono from the 1960s. Its dial is just perfect, and the proportions of the watch make it very wearable and understated. It is a must-have for any Rolex collector.
It also has sentimental value for me. I received it from my father. I wore it to our first business meetings to establish Watchonista. I take it on all my adventures with the Watchonista team. It’s always on my wrist when Watchonista reaches a big milestone, and it always will be. It’s my lucky watch.
Josh Shanks And His Faithful Rolex Explorer
My Rolex Explorer (ref. 214270) has been with me since 2013. I purchased the watch in a duty-free shop in St. Thomas, and it’s been in my collection ever since. I was traveling a lot at the time, mostly between Europe and South America, and I thought, “What better way to symbolize these travels than with a watch that clearly says EXPLORER on the dial?”
Out of all my watches, I’ve owned the Explorer the longest. While many have come and gone, the Explorer is the one constant. This watch has been my trusted companion at nearly every major life milestone. From my wedding to my first job interview with Watchonista, this Rolex Explorer has been there.
It may not be the sexiest piece in my collection, but it’s certainly the most sentimental. I can easily recall the stories behind almost every scratch, ding, or dent. My precious Explorer will soon have to leave me for a full service, but I’m opting to leave all the imperfections, as they only help to tell the story of this wonderful little timepiece.
Rhonda Riche And Her Lucky $10 Find
I was visiting a friend in Hamilton, Ontario, about ten years ago. We were visiting one of those fussy, old school antique shops that sell old art pottery as well as non-vintage tchotchkes. At the front desk, they were also selling bags of old ladies’ wristwatches for $10. I bought a bag, and inside was this Rolex Standard, AKA, the “Canadian Rolex.”
The story of these Rollies is interesting on its own. To get around import taxes, Rolex opened up a Canadian subsidiary that took the company’s Swiss movements but cased them in the Great White North. The story of this particular watch, however, was also fascinating, because it was made for members of the Canadian Armed Forces departing for active service in Europe during WWII.
This model I found was made for women in the military and, as an ad of the day explained, it was, “Copied from models which have given splendid service in actual war conditions in England and elsewhere.”
It was a great watch, but I sold it to trade up for a beautiful green-dialed Oyster, which was stolen about two months later at Baselworld. I miss both of them terribly.
Viviana Shanks Keeps US And Swiss Time With Her Rolex GMT-Master II “Root Beer”
After purchasing my 'Root Beer', I swaddled my holy grail in bubble wrap. Months later, the days of me living in mortal fear of scratching my watch are over. But I have to be honest; my first Rolex was by far the hardest watch to take off my wrist. The famous Rolex GMT-Master II “Root Beer,” stepped up my fashion game and complimented every one of my outfits.
From a Sunday morning donut run to a gala evening, it seldom left my wrist over the past year. I often found myself just gazing at it, admiring the sleek black dial, and its perfectly paired chocolate and black bezel. And though my awe has lessened slightly, I still wholeheartedly believe I own an icon of Swiss watchmaking.
This tool watch continues to serve me well. The GMT function is set on Swiss time, which allows me to keep up with my family and Watchonista’s Swiss office. I still have to battle with people who believe it is not a proper watch for a lady, but it is too late now. This watch is an integral part of me. I do however, from time to time, lend it to my better half, as he, too, shares the same passion for watches.
Before getting my Root Beer, I often dreamt of what owning my first Rolex would be like, and, yes, it was exactly as I had imagined all these years. It was worth all the hard work, time, sweat, and tears I put into it, making this watch all the more valuable for it. And every night, as the Chromalight shines as I turn my lights off to fall asleep, I’m reminded of it.
Sophie Furley And Her Shared Tudor Black Bay
I know, it is not a Rolex, but as Tudor is part of the same parent company, my Watchonista colleagues let me join in on the fun! I actually bought this watch as a Christmas gift for my husband the year it was released. Since it was unveiled at Baselworld the previous spring, he had swooned over it virtually non-stop, so I knew it was the perfect gift.
We have this thing where we buy each other gifts that both of us can enjoy. So one year I got a motorbike, and he got a Globetrotter suitcase! It is kind of fun. And if you miss the mark with gift-giving, well, you gain full possession! This was not the case with the Tudor Black Bay, as we both love it. It is one of the watches I steal from him the most. I can’t put my finger on what I love about it. I think it is the combination of the black with the red bezel and the bold indices and hands.
It is my go-to watch when I travel, as it is extremely comfortable and very robust. I don’t have to worry about water, sand, or bashing it on the baggage carousel! In fact, I am taking it to Marrakech this weekend, so stay tuned for a full report.
(Photography by Team Watchonista)