Originally Posted by bafanguy
Why would SAS give flight crews a watch ?
Several of the classic watch brands in the 1950's tied the marketing of their watches to aviation much like Breitling still does today.
Rene-Paul Jeanneret at Rolex is credited with coming up with the concept of the 'tool' watch for different activities although I would argue that sport watches, dress watches and military watches had been around long before that.
In 1954 Pan Am Captain Fred Libby and Jeanneret took a two-timezone Rolex called the Turn-O-Graph and modified it into a watch with an additional 24-hour hand for issue to Pan American flight crews. In 1955 Rolex offered the watch for sale to the public as the GMT-Master.
Now, this is no s**t. Or, should I say once upon a time...
Rolex periodically delivered the issued watches in production batches to Pan Am's headquarters in the Chrysler Building. Inevitably perhaps, some seemed to end up on the wrists of the guys wearing suits rather than uniforms. CEO Juan Trippe noticed and made these folks give the watches back to be worn by the cockpit Sky-Gods. Like Fred Smith in the pre-union FedEx days, Trippe considered his pioneering pilots to be the stars of the company and the executives to be in a supporting role.
To soothe executive egos after the timepieces were confiscated, Trippe had Rolex produce just over a hundred of the new watches with the same movement, case and hands but with a distinctive white dial for issue to the management. These became known as the 'Albino Pan Am GMT-Master' and are obviously extremely rare.
I've seen a recent estimate of $300,000 for one of these pieces in good condition.
I'm thinking that the Polerouter discussed above probably had some similar interesting variants produced after the original issue to the SAS polar pioneers.