At Auction: Pan Am Pilots’ Rolexes from the ’50s & ’60s

The major spring sales of ‘important timepieces’ are taking place in Geneva this weekend with some eye-popping offerings on the vintage Rolex front. Pick any of the auctions at Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Antiquorum and you’ll find rarities you can lust after, if not actually afford. An ultra-exclusive chronograph from 1942 is likely to fetch over a million bucks at Christie’s on May 15 and break the world record, while there are dozens of rare “Paul Newman” Daytonas of every description. Some of the oldest examples show some wear and patina that might “devalue” them but only adds to their appeal in our eyes.

Picking favorites out of this crowd is pretty tough, but Antiquorum comes across as the clear winner with a couple of original Pan Am pilots’ GMT models from the ‘50s and ‘60s, complete with some of the flyers’ other accoutrements. Pictured above is a 1957 “Tropical Dial” GMT-Master, property of the original owner, estimated at $27,000 – $38,000. It comes with the pilot’s Pan Am cap, briefcase, lighter, ashtray and flight instruction manual. There’s a 1962 Pan Am GMT-Master accompanied by some artifacts as well. Check it out along with some of our other selections from the Antiquorum sale below.

-Jared Paul Stern is the editor of DRIVEN.

Lot 159 – 1972 Submariner made for the British military, $80,000 - $130,000
Lot 160 – 1980 Comex Sea Dweller with diving accessories, $80,000 ­– $140,000
Lot 375 – 1930s “Staybrite” chronograph retailed by Giudici Milano, $12,000 – $20,000
Lot 378 – 1940s “Monoblocco” chronograph, $23,000 – $35,000
Lot 522 ­– 1950 “Pre-Daytona” chronograph, $29,000 – $36,000
Lot 525 – 1951 “Jean-Claude Killy” chronograph, $44,000 – $72,000
Lot 537 ­– 1962 Pan Am GMT-Master with accessories, $6,500 ­– $11,000
Lot 526 – 1971 “Paul Newman” Black Oyster Mark II Daytona, $220,000 – $290,000
Lot 534 – 1979 “Steve McQueen” Explorer II retailed by Tiffany & Co., $14,000 – $20,000

(All images courtesy Antiquorum.)

Comments on “At Auction: Pan Am Pilots’ Rolexes from the ’50s & ’60s

    Ryan Hineson May 12, 2011 @ 9:42 AM:

    They’re nice, but I prefer a watch that has the fewest possible number of complications. It’s ten times more chic. I don’t even want a second hand. I’ll be damned before I’m ever on a short enough leash to need to keep track of seconds.

    The Tradon May 12, 2011 @ 10:52 AM:

    Man, that Pan Am stuff throws me into fantasy land of being a single pilot in the early ’60s. Checking the time on the GMT at Idlewild, hailing a cab and lighting a Marlboro with that Zippo. Heading into the city for a couple nights of booze fueled debauchery with Playboy Club blondes with lots of hair spray and long pink manicured nails. Man-o-Manischewitz.

    Ramalhonion May 12, 2011 @ 10:57 AM:

    The Submariner with the leather strap is to nice to be true!
    I wish I had just $130k hanging around… lol…

    F.A. Moraleson May 12, 2011 @ 11:09 AM:

    Loving the warm patina on the lume and how it contrasts with the pepsi bezel. The tritium lume will fade and patina on most if not all vintage Rolex’s. I don’t really think it would affect price though, I’m sure that those who are in the market for a vintage Sub, are going for that tanning of the bezel – it somewhat signals that you are wearing a conversation piece. Overall, a very nice lot.

    BCMon May 12, 2011 @ 12:18 PM:

    Those Pan-Am shots are great. Reminds me of the day when flying was a privilege. But more importantly, when flying was actually a pleasant experience.

    Daveon May 12, 2011 @ 12:41 PM:

    Ryan, why not cut the leash altogether and wear a watch with no hands? Then when someone asks you for the time, you can just look at it, shrug, and say, “Hell, I don’t know. Probably threeish. Who cares?” That’s even chic-er

    David Popeon May 12, 2011 @ 1:10 PM:

    The Trad’s comment is spot on !

    chrison May 12, 2011 @ 2:05 PM:

    On a lighter note when I was a kid there was a travel agency in our neighborhood that was gutted by a fire.They had a mannequin in the window that was wearing a pan-am stewardess uniform.During the fire the firemen tossed it out on the sidewalk in front and after they left we took the mannequin to carl schurz park and beat the hell out of it.One of the kids gave the uniform to his sister.
    Just kids.

    pjharvon May 12, 2011 @ 2:38 PM:

    Ryan, just having those thoughts means that you’ve been on that short leash or you’re currently on it. either way, you can chic it up by doing without a watch. show up when you show up, get there on your own schedule, pay no respect to time or the people waiting… let me know how long that life takes care of you. oh wait, you won’t be able to tell me that… but you’ll be uber-chic.

    Ms.Ghongon May 12, 2011 @ 3:02 PM:


    Pon May 12, 2011 @ 3:50 PM:

    save up guys, you can get a super nice 14060 for 3G.

    Billyon May 12, 2011 @ 4:43 PM:

    That classic Pan Am corporate branding is hard to beat. Timeless.

    Timon May 12, 2011 @ 10:56 PM:

    rolex is lame.

    cocòon May 13, 2011 @ 4:04 AM:

    é questa storia che fà di rolex un marchio semplicemente ineguagliabile…..

    mikeon May 13, 2011 @ 9:18 AM:

    Love the Pan Am GMT. Sharp.

    jbjoneson May 13, 2011 @ 1:38 PM:

    Ryan, after you’ve finally flung your watch and all of its hands into the hipster abyss, you can work to further maximize your hipstatus by mortally alienating each and every person you know through insult and/or injury and live in a state of perpetual self isolation, living solely for your inward ruminations and the tic…tic…tic of your own invention

    Moldyon May 13, 2011 @ 5:28 PM:

    Something about pan am always makes me want to be Frank Abagnale Jr.
    Why cant flying be cool again?

    MATTon May 13, 2011 @ 7:18 PM:


    Jon May 14, 2011 @ 8:09 AM:

    For Ryan:

    Levi Maestro has already captured hipster freedom and re-packaged it for your consumption.

    Ye Ole Generalon May 14, 2011 @ 12:05 PM:

    I love old watches. I prefer the simple, but classic dial. I have some from the 40s, but nothing that costly.

    Ryan Hineson May 14, 2011 @ 5:47 PM:

    LOL. I’m not a hipster at all. Hipsters are the least chic of all mammals. Also, I’m never late. Somehow I make it on time wearing a watch without a barometer and/or compass on it.

    Overly complicated watches are gauche. psorry.

    Ericon May 14, 2011 @ 7:21 PM:


    I think I’ve seen you around. Is this you by chance?


    david himelon May 15, 2011 @ 10:28 AM:

    I looked at these and thought…I wish I wish I wore a watch

    Ryan Hineson May 15, 2011 @ 10:57 AM:

    No, this is me:

    I’m the one who isn’t a lesbian.

    David Popeon May 15, 2011 @ 11:31 PM:

    You guys are funny ! Love it !

    Thomason May 16, 2011 @ 9:47 AM:

    My father, a retired captain had two – both lost in southeast Asia. He claims one was lost making a left turn signal in Manila (“I didn’t feel a thing as they took it”) and the other was lost on a boat ride adjusting the date in Singapore’s harbor. As far as I know – and Pan American World Airways attested, retired Captain Jim is honest but was left to acquire his own watch (an Omega) in the late 1980s when flying had become Greyhound.

    dhueon May 16, 2011 @ 10:03 PM:

    14060m…best ever rolex.

    alexon May 17, 2011 @ 11:33 AM:


    Imperial Blackon May 24, 2011 @ 10:49 AM:

    As the trad said. Besides the timepieces being an absolute motherlode, the Pan AM mystique just sends the collection into fantasyland. One can imagine this gent flying in and out of the old Chalks terminal in Miami and the life that ensued.

    I do prefer a watch with a simpler movement though. An old Explorer is probably the go to watch in my drawer.

Comments are closed.