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While stirring the oxygen tanks on board the spacecraft Odyssey, the crew of the Apollo 13 heard a loud explosion. For 1.8 seconds, the spacecraft lost all communication to Earth. When communication was restored, the Apollo Guidance Computer flashed a warning: MAIN B BUS UNDERBOLT.
The following words would go down in NASA history, spoken by the mission commander, Jim Lovell:
"Houston, we've had a problem."
We're all familiar with what followed: the explosion knocked out all power in the Service Module and Command Module, except for the emergency power system intended for use only in re-entry of the Earth's atmosphere. Instructed by Mission Control in Houston, the astronauts huddled in the Lunar Module, which was also without power except for the radio connection, their lifeline to Earth. The astronauts used mechanical watches to time the critical engine bursts that propelled the spacecraft back home.
Much has been made of the role the astronauts' Omega Speedmaster Professionals played in this fateful mission--and, indeed, in all manned space missions from Apollo 11 to the present day. But it's come to light that another watch might have played a role in allowing Apollo 13 to return back home. From its inception as a watch designed for the pilots of Pan American Airlines, the Rolex GMT Master also has a connection to Apollo 13, and--like the Omega Speedmaster--was also worn on the surface of the moon.
Though it's been a subject of contention for decades, the facts are these: Jack Swigert, Command Module Pilot of Apollo 13, often wore a Rolex GMT Master Reference 1675. Photos taken on the morning of the launch show him clearly wearing a Reference 1675 at the astronauts' traditional pre-flight breakfast of steak and eggs, and again being suited up for spaceflight. After the mission, when the astronauts were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Swigert is shown wearing two watches, one of which is a GMT Master.
While it's doubtless that Swigert also wore an Omega Speedmaster on the exterior of his spacesuit (as shown in photos), the evidence is undeniable: a Rolex GMT Master must have also traveled to the moon and back on Swigert's wrist, since he was photographed wearing it both before and after the mission. In fact, Swigert himself indirectly credited his Reference 1675 with playing a role in the astronauts' return to Earth. He sent his Reference 1675 and a signed photo of the Apollo 13 splashdown to Rolex Director, Rene-Paul Jeannert (father of the Rolex Submariner), thanking Jeanneret for allowing him to "always be on time."
Additionally, although Apollo 13 never actually made it to the moon, Edgar Mitchell wore his own Rolex GMT Master during his EVA in Apollo 14. Photos show Mitchell in the Lunar Module wearing a Rolex GMT Master on his right wrist, and the requisite Speedy on his left. Afterwards, Mitchell--a devoted fan of the Pepsi GMT--recalled that he did in fact wear his GMT on the Moon, making it yet another (although not official) Moon watch.
The Reference 1675 that we offer here bears a serial in the 2.2 million series, making it an approximate contemporary to the Apollo 13 mission. The trademark Pepsi bezel and the early Mark I dial have gained a handsome patina over time. On an Oyster bracelet dating to 1971, this Reference 1675 has steadfastly weathered the years, and will serve as a faithful companion to your life's adventures--on the ground, in space, or wherever life takes you.
Stainless steel Oyster case is approximately 39mm (excluding crown). Rolex Reference 1675. Rolex GMT Automatic Movement. Circa late 1960s.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel Oyster case is in very good condition, with minimal signs of use and wear consistent with age. Pepsi bezel has faded over the years and shows some signs of wear. Matte Mark I dial shows patina to the luminescent elements of the hour markers. Hands and date wheel are early service replacements. Rolex crown. Rolex case back shows some wear but is in otherwise very good condition.
Includes one 20mm 7836/280 folded-link Oyster bracelet dated 1/71. Bracelet shows some signs of wear but is in otherwise very good condition.
Also includes two 20mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle