Since 1918, Veterans Day has been observed in this, celebrating the end of hostilities in World War I. Originally named Armistice Day, the 11th day of the 11th month sees a host of countries around the world pay tribute to their military, with many marking the start of the 11th hour with a traditional minute of silence.
The link between Rolex and the armed forces goes back generations. The rugged tool watches created by the Swiss brand have long been sought for their legendary toughness and unwavering reliability—the two most important attributes for any military equipment.
A watch born at the top of the world, in the airless subzero temperatures of Everest’s summit, is a watch resilient enough to survive anything.
Launched in 1953, after the prototype had accompanied Messrs.’ Hillary and Tenzing to the highest peak on earth, the replica Rolex Explorer has gone on to become a favorite of global military forces for the last 60 years.
With its no-nonsense, utilitarian style and with a dial that remains one of the crown’s most legible, all shrouded in a case that has never succumbed to the allure of precious metals, the Explorer does everything you could ever need of it and nothing more.
Although it was originally conceived for Pan Am, as a way to assist their civilian airline crews to tell day from the night as they crossed time zones, the sheer toughness of the GMT-Master, coupled with its at-a-glance convenience, has seen the watch find an appreciative audience among air force pilots and even NASA astronauts.
The GMT-Master replica watch is perhaps the archetypal reference in a series that can trace its roots back to the mid-fifties. Not the first iteration, but the one that brought several vital innovations to the fore, important advances that set the GMT on its way to becoming both a beautiful timepiece and a sturdy, workmanlike implement.
There’s a saying shared among Special Forces regiments around the world when it comes to selecting equipment for missions; “If it’s shiny, I’ll have it.”
Whether that extends to the replica watches they place their trust in is unknown, but for a timepiece that gleams brightly enough for any parade ground, the Rolex Submariner is a drill sergeant’s dream.
The yellow gold Sub is much more likely to adorn the wrists of five-star generals than the rank and file, which is released in the late 1960s, a weighty precious metal showpiece edition of the world’s favorite dive watch. However, although it may be too eye-catching to risk in combat, it is still one of the most inherently strong models in the archive and a product of the replica Rolex’s typically relentless improvements.