Rolex. A Fine Stainless Steel Automatic Wristwatch with Center Seconds and Bracelet, Worn by Scientist John VanDerwalker
The TEKTITE Missions For decades, humanity worked to find ways to operate deeper and for longer periods of time in the depths of the ocean. During the early 1960s, the first undersea labs were made as part of the Conshelf experiments under the leadership of Jacques Cousteau to test the limits of working beneath the sea for long periods of time. The early success of the Conshelf program quickly attracted the attention of NASA as the space race made it critical for scientists to understand the effects of people living in a closed habitat within a hostile environment. As the first nationally funded scientists-in-the sea program, the TEKTITE habitat was built through the combined efforts of NASA, General Electric and the US Navy. The Tektite habitat was placed in Great Lameshur Bay in St. John in the US Virgin Islands. Four aquanauts, as they were known, spent 60 days non-stop underwater within the habitat and established a new world record for a saturation dive. From February 15 until April 15, 1969, the TEKTITE I program, managed by the US Navy, studied the behaviors of the small crew, extend the capabilities to do work on the bottom of the ocean, and studied the long-term effects of a nitrogen-oxygen environment. The first aquanauts for the Tektite lab were: Richard Waller, John VanDerwalker, Conrad Mahnken and Edward Clifton. The TEKTITE II project was coordinated by the the US Department of the Interior in May 1970. The team was notably all women for this set of missions and included Sylvia Earle, the famous American marine biologist and explorer. The main focus of these missions was marine ecology. The TEKTITE habitat consisted of 2 white cylinders, 20 feet tall and a square like container below with rods to retain the lab from floating up. There were four rooms inside the habitat, the wet room, the equipment room, crew room and the bridge. Scientist John VanDerwalker served on both TEKTITE missions, as an aquanaut-scientist in TEKTITE 1 and as the scientific coordinator for TEKTITE II. The following lots from Mr. VanDerwalker include two watches, a Rolex and a Certina, that he wore during the missions and important historical ephemera around the TEKTITE program. Special thanks to Ian Reardon for his research and writing on the TEKTITE program.
Rolex. A Fine Stainless Steel Automatic Wristwatch with Center Seconds and Bracelet, Worn by Scientist John VanDerwalker


Rolex. A Fine Stainless Steel Automatic Wristwatch with Center Seconds and Bracelet, Worn by Scientist John VanDerwalker
Signed Rolex, Oyster Perpetual, 200m=660ft, Submariner, Ref. 5512, Case No. 1'744'411, Circa 1967
Movement: Automatic, Cal. 1570, 26 jewels
Dial: Black, luminous dot, dagger and baton numerals, luminous hands, center seconds
Case: Stainless steel, black bezel, screw back, screw down crown, inside case back stamped 5513 and IV .67, 39mm diam.
Bracelet/Clasp: Rolex Oyster with deployant clasp, stamped 7 68, Overall approximate length 8.5 inches
Accompanied by: A Tektite 1 model, Tektite 1 patches, official Tektite 1 stationary, and three archive images
From the Original Owner

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Lot Essay

Aquanaut John VanDerwalker received this Rolex Submariner for use during the TEKTITE missions. Preserved in extraordinary condition, this watch is historically important for its place in saturation diving history and extraordinary provenance. During TEKTITE 1, VanDerwalker and his three fellow aquanauts set the new world record for a long duration saturation dive. Offered by the original owner, this is the first time this Rolex has been offered on the market.

This lot includes a plastic scale model of the TEKTITE habitat that is signed by Mr. VanDerwalker and a selection of TEKTITE ephemera.

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