I came across this cool (old) story 'bout some costum Rolexes.. Thought I'd share it with you guys, 'cause I'm sure not everyone has heard 'bout it..
Do you guys have more pics? More special editions ?Posted with permission of Daniel Bourn. London Watch Company
Here's a Rolex 1665 Omani with box and papers in NOS condition (with a letter from HH confirming delivery) . These watches were commissioned by Qaboos bin Sa'id the Sultan of Oman via ASPREY and then delivered by Qaboos to the british army (SAS) in the early 1970s.
Of those that have survived all seem to have serials within a very close range and have distinguishing features: The Double Red lines, Depth rating and SCOC have been replaced with the Oman insiginia in bright red. The outer caseback has the expected double red engravings but is also marked ASPREY.
I found and modified some text by James Dowling / Wikipedia which provides some further history :
During the late 1960s Oman was perhaps one of the most autocratic states in the world; the Sultan Sa'id ibn Taymur forbade both education and even internal travel.
On July 23, 1970, The ongoing Dhofar rebellion led to a palace coup, Sultan Sa'id ibn Taymur was overthrown by his son, Qaboos bin Sa'id.
Qaboos quickly reversed his father's policy of isolation and began to develop and modernize Oman.
Sultan Qaboos appointed the country's first official cabinet and took steps toward building a modern government structure.
The rebellion in Dhofar continued so Sultan Qaboos who had been trained in Britain at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst and well aware of the capabilities of the British Special Air Services (SAS) asked for their assistance.
Initially one squadron was sent (a squadron comprises 4 troops each with 32 men, who are further divided into 8 four man patrols), then a second was sent. They began to occupy and fortify commanding positions on the mountain range throughout the Dhofar region.
Their task was made easier as the insurgents were fervent Marxists and this did not sit well with the locals who were devout muslims.
Over the next few months many of the locals who had fought with the insurgents began to defect to the Omani side and the SAS formed them into “counter gangs”, using their superior local knowledge & family ties.
This was a strategy that had worked well for the SAS in both Kenya and Malaya and it proved successful in Oman too.
The rebels decided that their only hope lay in a decisive victory over the SAS in a location of their own choice and they chose the southern town of Mirbat. There were 9 SAS soldiers in the local training HQ and a contingent of the local Police (the DG)in the fort that dominated the town.
As the morning fog enveloped the town over 250 Adoos (the local name for the rebels) advanced on the fort, they were the best men the Adoos had and were equipped with the best weapons in their arsenal; AK 47s, heavy, medium & light machine guns, mortars, grenades, rocket launchers and even an 84mm Carl Gustav anti tankmissile. The battle lasted 3 hours and is best described in “Soldier I” (ISBN 7475-0563-2 ) written by one of the SAS involved in the battle; when it was over 2 SAS troopers were dead and around 80 of the Adoos met a similar fate. They never again attempted an attack in force and within three years the rebellion was over.
There is a tradition in the Gulf of gift giving and for some reason Rolex watches seem to be one of the preferred gifts. A specific department At within Rolex Geneva exists to provide these specially designed watches. Most of them have unique dials where all of the text below the centre hole is deleted and the insignia of the sovereign or the country is then printed in this space.
The level of respect shown to the recipient of a gift is judged by the value of the gift offered to them. This means that most of these watches are in 18k gold and often have jewelled bezels and or dials.
However Sultan Qaboos knew enough about the British Army to know that solid gold Day Dates were not normal wear, not even in the officers’ mess and chose the Rolex Sea Dweller. These watches had the insignia of Oman below the centre post and seem to come in 2 versions, with
he insignia in red or gold.
British troops on active duty are not normally allowed to accept gifts for performing their duty, however on this occasion this restriction did not apply. This was because the SAS were not actually on active duty, they were in Oman on a “training mission” which was why they were always referred to as the British Army Training Teams in all official documents at the time.