In the history of replicating Rolex, few watches have been as distinctive as the Datejust Turn-O-Graph (aka Thunderbird). At first glance, it looks like a standard Datejust, but a closer look reveals a 60-minute scale on the eponymous rotating white gold bezel, which provides a unique aesthetic and extra functionality to the wrist. The name “Thunderbirds” comes from the nickname of the U.S. Air Force Aviation Demonstration Squadron, which was established in 1953 as the first supersonic aerobatic team. The story goes that one pilot started wearing the Turn-O-Graph, which eventually became the squadron’s watch of choice – a moniker that soon came to the fore.
When it was introduced in the early 2000s, the Ref. 116264 represented the last generation of the Thunderbird before it was discontinued in 2012. This model introduces a fluted bezel for the Turn-O-Graph, effectively bridging the gap between Rolex tool watch and formal watch styles even further. It also introduces a number of new dial colors and configurations, including the now-iconic red seconds dial, which not only helps differentiate the watch from previous generations of Thunderbirds, but also from its contemporaries in the standard Datejust line differentiate. The most modern of the Rolex Thunderbirds, the 116264 is a classic example – versatile, visually distinctive and ready for anything. Its 36mm Oyster case ensures a comfortable fit, while its fluted bezel adds a touch of elegant contrast, perfectly embodying the “high-low” aesthetic that has characterized the collection for over 50 years.
In 2020, Rolex released a new, slightly larger 41mm Submariner, with slimmer lugs, a wider strap and a new (for the Submariner) calibre 3230. While Rolex is undoubtedly the most conservative progressive brand when it comes to updating its classic designs, some collectors believe that the new Submariner has gone too far – no matter how insignificant. Thus, over the past two years, 40mm “six-figure” Submariners, such as the two-tone 116613 we have here, have become “classics” worthy of any collector’s attention.
Possibly the most recognizable watch in the world, the fake Rolex Submariner stands for serious luxury when it’s made in two tones of steel and gold. We love the six-figure Submariner of this era for its refined case and bracelet, ceramic bezel insert, slim 13mm thickness, and excellent 3135 movement with date and 48-hour automatic.