Since this is the first post of 2020 on our Blog we decided to tell you something special, which will surely ignite the hearts of those who are passionate about vintage watches especially military ones.
Before proceeding and going into the topic, it’s necessary to make a little historical excursus on an event as exceptional as tragic of the 20th century: the Vietnam War.
The Vietnam War was an armed conflict fought in Vietnam between 1955 and 1975.
The conflict mainly took place in the territory of South Vietnam and saw the pro-communist insurrectional forces contrasted with the governmental forces of the so-called Republic of Vietnam.
This conflict, as everyone knows, also saw the direct involvment of the United States of America, which progressively increased their military forces in aid of the government of South Vietnam according to the escalation strategy.
The United States to put in place such a massive war effort quickly established in the South Pacific Ocean a dense network of military bases in friendly and geographically neighboring countries to the war front in Vietnam.
It was unthinkable to completely manage from the USA fundamental aspect for the conduct of a war such as supplies logistic, vehicle repairs, staff training and so on.
One of the most known and relevant bases was certainly that of “Subic Bay”, located on the east coast of the Philippines about 150 km from the capital Manila.
“Subic Bay” was located in an exceptional strategic position, well protected by a large bay and directly overlooking the South China Sea and rather close to Vietnam itself.
AERIAL VIEW OF SUBIC BAY NAVAL BASE IN THE 60’S
An interesting fact for our research is that this important military base was geographically close to a small city called “Olongapo”.
At the time, Olongapo was quite famous in the Philippines for its goldsmith tradition and in particular for the well-known skills of the local craftsmen in working metal.
Among the US troops stationed at the base of “Subic Bay”, the fashion of having local bracelets modified by those local artisans slowly spread, both for the soldiers own habit but also for the convenience in having a solid and robust extra metal bracelet for their watches.
The bracelet was unique, linked to traditional local production and completely handmade.
In particular, it was made up of two pieces for wrapping the wrist and a “holes” closure with a metal clip.
The military began to ask to these craftsmen to apply and engrave their favorite logos on these bracelets such as the military ones related to their squadron, section of belonging etc.
This is how the famous and precious “Olongapo” bracelets were born, which are named after this town in the Philippines.
Given the variety of military symbols, “Olongapo” bracelets over the years have been found with a multitude of types of engravings and applications.
The following 3 pics depicting an original “Olongapo” bracelet with military markings are courtesy of Cortez Ramon – O&P Forum
It is already quite rare to be able to find an original vintage “Olongapo” bracelet, very difficult is to find it attached to the watch for which it was created, but it is basically impossible to find a watch of a well-known brand in exceptional untouched conditions with its original “Olongapo” bracelet attached.
In fact, we would like to remind you that these watches were daily worn and used used in war scenarios within the dense Vietnamese and Cambodian jungles.
This is the reason why we are so proud to be able to present this rare and very important Tudor Submariner 7928 with its original “Olongapo” bracelet, a perfectly patinated dial, a never polished case and even with its original box and papers.
It is not a military assigned watch, but since it was acquired by the former owner’s widow, we are sure that this watch was on the wrist of a valiant american soldier for the entire duration of the Vietnam War to which he had even fortunately survived.
The watch was purchased during the war in an American post office in the Philippines and was chosen by the former owner for the known strength and waterproof characteristics of the Tudor and Rolex watches.
For the uninitiated, we would like to remind you that the American post offices (the so-called PX) were places where the military could acquire imported goods from the USA and Europe, including watches.
The bracelet is an original “Olonpago” with the engraved and applied logo “US NAVY MASTER DIVER”, a typical classification of American military army divers.
This Tudor Submariner ref. 7928 “Olonpago” complete with all the original box and paper set, with a magnificent warm dial, with a never touched case, is certainly a magnificent vision for those who love watches with a military history.
Hoping that you liked this article, we leave you now with some photos taken by our team.
See you next time!