The CHRONEXT watch myth busters have got your back
The world of fine timepieces if full of watch myths. Did Sir Edmund Hillary really wear the Explorer while ascending Mount Everest? And was Patek Philippe really the first watchmaker to create the perpetual calendar? CHRONEXT is here to deliver the truth.
1) Steve McQueen actually never wore the Explorer II
The myth that Steve McQueen wore the Rolex Explorer II is absolute fiction. The fabrication was once perpetuated by an Italian auction house when they began referring to the Ref. 1655 as the “Steve McQueen Explorer”. In reality, the “king of cool” was endlessly faithful to his trademark Rolex Submariner and was largely photographed sporting the watch. So if you hear anyone prolonging this myth, you can be sure to set him or her straight.
2) The Omega Speedmaster is the only watch to have been worn on the moon.
Inarguably, the Omega Speedmaster was the first watch worn on the moon while strapped around the wrist of Buzz Aldrin during the Apollo 11 mission. However, the Omega Speedmaster, contrary to popular belief, is not the only timepiece to have completed the long voyage to the lunar surface. In fact, the American Astronaut Dave Scott privately owned and wore a Bulova chronograph to the surface of the moon in 1971 during Apollo 15. The timepiece has since been auctioned off for 1.6 million USD.
3) Hans Wilsdorf provided British soldiers with a “buy-now-pay-whenever” payment plan during the Second World War.
During the Second World War, Hans Wilsdorf – the founder of Rolex – discovered that the pilots of the British Royal Air Force were choosing to wear a quality Rolex timepiece purchased from their own paycheck as opposed to their government issued watches. As it happened, enemy soldiers were seizing these fine timepieces when they shot British aircrafts down. Upon hearing this, Wilsdorf extended a generous and trustworthy offer to British prisoners of war. They were able to purchase Rolex timepieces and did not have to worry about paying for them until the war was over.
4) John Lennon owned one of the most expensive Patek Philippe timepieces.
John Lennon was the ultimate hippie who once asked the world if they could imagine a planet without possessions. Consequently, it may come as a shocking surprise that the celebrated nonconformist owned a very exclusive and expensive timepiece from Patek Philippe. The exact model worn by Lennon was the iconic Ref. 2499, which was probably gifted to him on his 40th birthday by his wife, Yoko Ono, just a few months prior to his tragic assassination.
5) Sir Edmund Hillary wore a Rolex Explorer during his ascent to the peak Mount Everest.
While the tale of the long and excruciating ascent to Mount Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and his partner Tenzing Norgay is undeniably true, the question of the exact timepieces strapped around their wrists remains unclear. Rolex was one of the sponsors of the expedition, which included providing Hillary with a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Chronometer. This timepiece was a prototype of the Rolex Explorer and not the first generation Explorer itself. Hillary was meant to wear the watch and then return it to Rolex following the expedition for testing purposes.
However, many people do not believe that Sir Edmund Hillary wore a Rolex whatsoever while summiting Mount Everest. Instead, they are certain that he wore a timepiece manufactured by the British watchmaker, Smiths. Some people have even argued that he wore both. The reason for this might have something to do with the fact that Sir Edmund Hillary donated his Smith’s watch, which he apparently wore to the peak of Everest, to the Clockmaker’s Museum in London. With both Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay having passed away, the absolute truth to this mystery may never truly be resolved.
6) Rolex sponsored the Submariner in the original James Bond films.
While the Rolex Submariner reference 6538 was the first – and some may argue the best – 007 timepiece, the watch itself was never sponsored or placed by the brand for marketing purposes in the original Bond films. In fact, Ian Flemming – the author of the James Bond novels – was a Rolex fan all on his own, making sure to equip his Bond character with a watch from the celebrated brand. Naturally, the Rolex timepiece carried on into the Bond films, with Sean Connery sporting the Rolex submariner Ref. 6538 around his wrist. Interestingly, when the producers of the first James Bond film, “Dr. No”, reached out to Rolex to provide them with a timepiece, the watch company refused. As a result, the producer of the film – Albert R. Broccoli – provided Connery with the Rolex off of his wrist.
7) Patek Philippe was the initial watchmaker to create the first wristwatch and perpetual calendar wristwatch.
While Patek Philippe holds a Guinness World Record for creating the first wristwatch in 1868 for Countess Koscowicz of Hungary, Breguet actually beat them to the punch in 1812 when they created the first wristwatch in horological history for Napoleon’s sister – Caroline Murat.
Again, Patek Philippe claims to have created the first wristwatch with a perpetual calendar in 1925, which is not entirely true. While the wristwatch was indeed equipped with a perpetual calendar, the calibre inside the watch was originally designed for a lady’s pendant watch, which is not the same thing. In 1929, Breguet manufactured the very first wristwatch in history to feature a perpetual calendar movement specifically manufactured for a wristwatch.
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