Lot #9008
Neil Hutchinson's Rolex GMT-Master Wristwatch

A witness to the Space Age—NASA Flight Director Neil Hutchinson's Rolex GMT-Master wristwatch

Estimate: $18000+

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Server Time: 3/27/2023 12:21:06 AM EDT


A witness to the Space Age—NASA Flight Director Neil Hutchinson's Rolex GMT-Master wristwatch

NASA Flight Director Neil B. Hutchinson's Rolex GMT-Master (Reference #1675) wristwatch, worn on a daily basis throughout his career in Mission Control—from Hutchinson's wrist, this iconic timepiece witnessed the key events from the age of Apollo through the early Space Shuttle missions. Serial no. 1533666, movement no. 1432504, the watch was manufactured in 1966 and purchased by Hutchinson in 1967. It features a 26-jewel Oyster Perpetual Movement, black dial, blue-and-red bezel with 24-hour scale (nicknamed the 'Pepsi' color scheme), date indicator with famous Rolex 'Cyclops' magnifying bubble in the acrylic crystal, and original stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet (Ref. #78360).

The bezel rotates so that the local time zone and Greenwich Mean Time may be simultaneously represented, a system developed thanks to the age of flight—Rolex collaborated with Pan American World Airways to devise the scheme, so that their long-haul pilots could keep track of both local time and GMT, which was used for all aviation flight planning. In fine condition, with light scratches to the crystal, and expected signs of use. Accompanied by a letter of provenance signed by Hutchinson, plus the original box and rare paperwork—a Rolex GMT-Master instruction booklet, Rolex Superlative Chronometer warranty booklet, tiny Rolex 'auto-lock' bezel pamphlet, and Bureaux Suisses chronometer certification document. The watch received official Rolex authorized service in 2022 (nothing cosmetic done, only lube, etc.).

Hutchinson's letter of provenance provides a detailed chronology of his NASA career and mission assignments, beginning with Apollo 4, continuing through the Skylab program and Apollo-Soyuz mission, and finishing with the fourth flight of the Space Shuttle. In part: "I, Neil B. Hutchinson, certify that Rolex GMT Master watch…was purchased by me in the fall of 1967 and has since remained continuously in my possession. It was worn on a daily basis throughout my career in NASA Mission Control. This Rolex GMT served me well in the variety of capacities for which I served…This watch has seen some of the most exciting moments in our early manned space program history."

The watch can easily be seen on Hutchinson's wrist in images from NASA's archives—including one of Hutchinson with astronaut Bruce McCandless II, and another of Hutchinson in the Mission Operations Control Room during Apollo-Soyuz—as well as in a video of a briefing with Christa McAuliffe. Desirable on its own as a classic vintage Rolex, the exceptional provenance and association with NASA's most historic flights—including every manned Apollo mission—make this one of the most intriguing and historically significant space-related timepieces we have encountered.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Space Exploration and Aviation
  • Dates: March 17, 2023 - April 20, 2023