PROPERTY OF WALTER CUNNINGHAM
Please note this watch was not flown in outer space.
Accompanied by punched Rolex Guarantee dated February 1971 from Rolex New York and GMT-Master instruction brochure.
Together with flown Apollo VII beta patch featuring hand-written inscription from Walter Cunningham reading, 'Carried with me on the flight of Apollo 7 - Walt Cunningham.'
By 1953, the commercial trans-Atlantic airline industry was at a point where planes were able to take off on one side of the ocean and land on the other in a matter of mere hours. Partly as a result of this, Pan American airlines approached Rolex, and the two companies began working on a watch that could easily tell the hour in two different time zones.
When Ref. 6542, the first GMT-Master, was released in 1954, it became the official timepiece of Pan Am. Their pilots found the watch to be a useful tool in the cockpit where many timing calculations were necessary over the duration of the flight. In addition, the simple ability to know what time it was 'back home' was very easy to see with the watch's colorful bezel.
The present model, Ref. 1675, first launched in 1960, was the second GMT-Master made and replaced the fragile acrylic bezel found on the Ref. 6542 with a metal insert bezel. In addition, like the present model, most of the early examples of this model also featured protective crown guards to the side of the case.
Despite NASA's selection of Omega as the watch for the Apollo program, many astronauts found the simplicity and design of the GMT-Master desireable. In their book, Vintage Rolex Sport Models, Skeet & Urul mention that 'Rolex's own watch collection at its Geneva headquarters displays many GMT-Masters worn by Mercury and Apollo astronuats.' (p. 59)
Walter Cunningham purchased this watch in February of 1971. As he traveled the country and the world following his 1968 flight in outer space, he found the ability to know the time in two different areas very useful. With the collection of his flight-used Omega Speedmaster Professional by the Smithsonian Instituation, this was Cunningham's watch until recently.
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