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It's safe to say that we have a special fondness for military watches. While most of the military watches that we find date from the Vietnam War or later, we seldom get our hands on one that predates that period. So it's rare indeed for us to find a military watch from World War II, and a Rolex at that.
During World War II, watch companies rushed to equip timepieces to the Axis and Allied forces. The "Dirty Dozen," which were designed and supplied to British troops according to Ministry of Defense specifications, have attained a kind of sacred status among military watch collectors. Collectors of World War II-era pilot's watches are familiar with the A-11 and its Axis counterpart, the B-Uhren.
All of these watches, with their black dials and luminous hands, are a familiar sight to those in the know. But Rolex -- which was then known primarily for their dress timepieces -- was not to be outdone by their competitors; Rolex supplied over 3000 watches to the Allied troops during the war.
The reference 3139 is perhaps the most famous -- and mythical -- of these. In constructing the ref. 3139, Rolex pulled out all the stops. They used their patented Oyster case, then not even two decades old. The cushion-shaped case, similar to the Rolex bubble-back watches of the period, protected the watch from the dust and moisture that the soldier who wore it would encounter in the field. It's unusual to see a case that's in as good a condition as this one is: the lugs are sharp, and there are traces of the brush finishing that the watch must have borne when it rolled off the assembly line.
Another unusual feature is the color of the dial: a salmon hue that has gained an even patina over time. Most of these watches have unfortunately been lost to the ages, or have undergone such changes--new dials, new case backs or crowns--that they're almost unworthy of the moniker "Rolex Army." But this one bears the name proudly, as a relic of the conflict that birthed it.
The size of the case, at 30mm, is in keeping with men's watches of the period. We think it would look great on smaller wrists, or even as a gift for that special lady. Valentine's Day is around the corner, after all, and what says "I love you" more than a Rolex with a pink dial and a kickass military heritage?
Stainless steel cushion case is approximately 30mm (excluding crown). Rolex Caliber 710 manual-winding movement. Circa 1941.
Overall Condition: The case is in excellent condition over all with no major blemishes or signs of over polishing. Original unusual salmon-colored dial is in outstanding condition with unique, even patina. Luminous elements on dial and original Mercedes hands have also patinated evenly. Original case back and signed crown.
Includes one 16mm Swiss-made light brown leather strap with tan stitching. Also includes two 16mm nylon straps by Crown & Buckle.