Vietnam 1967 – Rolex Datejust 1601

In a series of earlier blogs – Gerrit’s Travels – I described some of the places where a family friend lived. He was born in the Netherlands but emigrated to the US, became a citizen there and worked around the world on US Government contracts. As a civilian but often in war areas or other troubled locations. Between 1966 and 1970 he spend his time in Vietnam as a contractor.

Gerrit with some civilian and ARVN’s

One of the most prized possession in Vietnam according to many sources was a high quality waterproof watch. For many the first choice was a Rolex, if they could afford one. Watches were most often bought during one of the R&R (Rest and Recuperation) trips out of country.

Rolex Datejust 1601, with box, chronometre certificate and guarantee (punched) from 1967 both year of production and purchase and the original bracelet also stamped with yearmark 67!

During his 2nd year in country he went on a R&R trip to HongKong where he decided to buy his much coveted watch, the Rolex Datejust. He did so on his 38th birthday, as a gift to himself but also with some money he had received form his parents for this birthday as he told me.

The watch remained his daily companion for the following years in Vietnam but also in many places where he went in later years. During the 1980s when I was in my teens he lived partially in the Netherlands with his wife and in laws. Through my mother I got to know him and some of his stories of all his travels. Still the Rolex was his loyal companion. It was this watch that started me wanting to have a high quality watch for myself.

Since that time I have had watches of the best brands in the world but some years after Gerrit passed away I inherited his military posessions and also was able to buy his two watches (the other I described before) from his widow.

Although I seldomly wear the watch I feel very proud to be the owner of this small part of history and each time I wear it my thoughts go out to the memory of Gerrit!

Watch on the stairs of a friends house in Saigon, keeping watch during a restless night….M1 carabine with double (taped) banana magazines at the ready…

Read more about Gerrit in the earlier blog on my other website: