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There are few watch brands whose products are as easily identifiable as Rolex’s. They stand out, recognizable at a glance across a crowded room—the merest glimpse of a cyclops is enough to assure you that the watch that you’re looking at is a Rolex. Yet despite the popularity of the brands’s sports models like the Submariner or GMT, there are certain models that will take you aback and make you say, “That’s a Rolex?”
The Turn-o-Graph or Thunderbird is one such Rolex.
Launched the year before the Submariner, the Turn-O-Graph was meant to be a substitute for a chronograph, which were more expensive than time-only watches. Rolex intended the wearers to use the bezel (which Rolex called the "time-recording rim") to make precise mathematical calculations. Understandably, Rolex marketed the Turn-O-Graph to business travelers and pilots, the latter of which was brought home by the reference of Turn-O-Graph that would follow.
In 1956, Rolex released a new variant of Turn-O-Graph. Rolex built this new model (Reference 6609) around the Datejust (the 36mm Oyster Case), but with an 18k gold case and the time-recording rim. Rolex offered the new reference of Turn-O-Graph to the Thunderbirds, a squadron of the U.S. Air Force known for acrobatic demonstrations and experimental flying techniques, and this association gave it the nickname by which it is best known by collectors in the United States.
Rolex replaced the Reference 6609 with the Reference 1625 in the late 1950s. The 1625, which ran from 1959 to 1977, was offered in two variants—two-tone steel and yellow gold like the Reference 6609, or steel with a white gold bezel. Unlike the Datejust, the Thunderbird was never offered entirely in steel until the 1990s.
One glance at the Turn-O-Graph featured here will tell you why. The yellow gold bezel and center links of the bracelet of this Reference 1625—along with that gorgeous gold dial—speak of the elegance that’s inherent in this watch. Though it possesses an aeronautical heritage, this Thunderbird isn’t one that you’d wear with a bomber jacket.
Available exclusively at Marshall Pierce
Stainless steel and gold case is approximately 36mm (excluding crown). Rolex Turn-O-Graph Reference 1625.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel and yellow gold case is in very good condition, showing minimal signs of use and wear in keeping with age. Rotating 18k yellow gold bezel is in very good condition, with slight scratches between the 40 and 30 minute markers. Dial is in excellent condition with no major signs of discoloration. Rolex crown. Rolex case back is in very good condition with minimal signs of use and wear.
Includes one 20mm stainless steel and gold Jubilee bracelet. Bracelet is in very good condition with some signs of age, including stretching.