Prior to the launch of the Rolex GMT-Master in 1955, the Rolex Turn-O-graph was already an iconic player in the professional world of aviation. Pilots were already using these watches in their navigational calculations using the white gold rotatable bezels. The first group of pilots known to use them, were the USAF Air Demonstration Squadron pilots, popularly known as the Thunderbirds. The cooperation between Rolex and the Squadron group was soon a solid one and Rolex even started calling the Turn-O-Graph watches ”Thunderbirds” while advertising for the Datejust Turn-O-Graph back in the late 1950’s.
In 1959, Rolex presented Captain Charles W. Maultsby who was flying in the “Right Wing” of the Thunderbirds Squadron with a Rolex Turn-O-Graph, that watch was a reference 6609 – The same reference as we’re offering here. Our Datejust ‘Thunderbird’ Turn-O-Graph 6609 is from 1958 and is a watch which still remains in a very good condition. The case is strong with even shaped lugs and an incredibly beautiful, white gold rotatable bezel. This Thunderbird is worn on a rare US made, Coffee Bean Jubilee bracelet with one of the most beautiful style of folding clasps from the 1950’s era. The matte black T Swiss Made T dial is from a slightly later period, as are all three of the white gold hands – A common feature on vintage Thunderbirds as these dials often would suffer UV or water damage. All in all this truly is an incredible watch and a rare one at that. She’s accompanied by the original Rolex box we found her in including a service receipt from 2017.