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Military Time: Rolex and the Armed Forces

May 29, 2017

BY Paul Altieri


On this Memorial Day weekend, we examine the connection between Rolex and the military. Find out why this Swiss brand has such strong ties to the military, both at home and beyond.

Military Watches

Many of us know about the watchmaker’s connections with military establishments around the world.

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Rolex Military Watches

As fans of Rolex, many of us know about the watchmaker’s connections with military establishments around the world. There is, of course, the Milsub for the British Ministry of Defense (MOD), the Turn-O-Graph for the U.S. Air Force’s Thunderbird aerobatic squadron, and the Daytona for the Peruvian Air Force, better known as Fuerza Aérea del Perú (FAP).

Military Watches

The GMT-Master is a perfect watch for a pilot.

Plus, there are also the Rolex GMT-Master watches commissioned by the UAE Ministry of Defense, the Rolex Air-King watches for the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Defense, and the Sea-Dweller watches commissioned by the Omani Sultan to gift to British Military SAS troops who had fought during the Dhofar rebellion.

For those who collect Rolex watches, particularly vintage ones, military editions are very much in demand.

Wearing Rolex Watches on Duty by Choice

However, aside from Rolex watches that were officially issued to (or gifted to) military personnel, there are plenty of those who serve that choose to wear Rolex watches—either on or off duty. In fact, here at Bob’s Watches, we see plenty of Rolex watches that come through our doors that belong to current servicemen and servicewomen, in addition to veterans. As their everyday companions, these Rolex watches have traveled the world with their owners while on active duty. Remember, while many Rolex watches are ultra luxurious, there are the tough Rolex tool watches too.

Rolex Military Watches

Rolex watches that were officially issued to (or gifted to) military personnel were common.

Up until the early 2000s, Rolex watches were available for sale at many US Military overseas exchanges. The watches were significantly less expensive than those at official Rolex boutiques. These prices, along with no sales tax, permitted a lot of military personnel to buy themselves a Rolex watch. Now there’s an awesome job perk! Unfortunately, however, this is no longer the case and Rolex watches aren’t currently available at Military exchanges.

Rolex Military Watches

Up until the early 2000s, Rolex watches were available for sale at many US Military overseas exchanges.

Rolex Watches Popular with Military

It’s no surprise that Submariner and GMT-Master models are particularly popular with US military personnel. Both models were born as robust tool watches that serve a purpose. Unveiled in 1953, the Submariner is Rolex’s iconic diver’s watch that became indispensable for scuba divers of the era. The GMT-Master on the other hand, centers around the need of pilots. Two years after the Submariner, in 1955, Rolex launched the GMT-Master, thus, allowing Pan Am pilots to follow two time zones. Although the GMT-Master was originally conceived for commercial pilots, it quickly became desired in other circles too—including military pilots.

Rolex Military Watches

Whether vintage or modern Rolex was a huge part of the military.

Perhaps not immediately evident, but the Explorer is another Rolex model that’s prevalent in the military. But once you consider its subtle straightforward style, rugged stainless steel construction, legible dial, and bright lume, it’s easy to understand why. The Explorer is a reliable and steadfast Rolex watch that gets the job done.

Thank You

With Memorial Day around the corner, we’d like to take a moment to thank all of those who have served our country and for all the sacrifices that have been made. On behalf of everyone here at Bob’s Watches, thank you. Wishing everyone a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend!



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Bob's Watches is an independent watch dealer and is not sponsored by, associated with and/or affiliated with Rolex, S.A. Bob's Watches only sells pre-owned Rolex watches and provides its own warranties on the watches it sells. Rolex, www.rolex.com, is under no obligation to warranty-service watches sold by Bob's Watches. Rolex Datejust, Rolex Day Date President, Submariner, Presidential, Explorer, Sea Dweller, Super President, GMT Master, GMT, YachtMaster, Prince, Milgauss, MasterPiece, Air King, Cosmograph Daytona, and PearlMaster are all registered trademarks of the Rolex Corporation ( Rolex USA, Rolex S.A.) To buy a new Rolex watch, please visit rolex.com for a list of authorized Rolex dealers near you.
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