5 minutes with… A Rolex gifted by the Sultan of Oman

5 minutes with… A Rolex gifted by the Sultan of Oman

Specialist Sabine Kegel reveals the fascinating story behind a rare and extraordinary Rolex Daytona — offered by a grateful monarch in recognition of services rendered, and one of fewer than 10 of its kind known to exist 

‘The original owner of this splendid watch was an English pilot who flew the Sultan of Oman and his entourage on one of his first state visits, from Muscat to Rome, on 28 March 1974,’ explains specialist Sabine Kegel, telling the story of this rare Rolex ‘Green Khanjar’ Daytona, offered in Geneva on May 15. 

‘The pilot has retired now, but when I met him at his home last year he recalled how, shortly before landing his aircraft at Ciampino airport, one of the Sultan’s ministers entered the cockpit. Holding out a small, cream and green box before him, he explained that he had been charged with proffering “a little present from the Sultan”.’

Inside the box was a watch from an exceedingly small series of so-called Green Khanjar Daytonas, bearing the symbol of the Sultanate of Oman — a traditional dagger, or khanjar, with a short, curved sword that was once a part of everyday attire in Oman, tucked beneath the waist belt. Made for the Sultan of Oman to be presented as a token of appreciation, fewer than 10 of these models in stainless-steel are known to exist. This pilot’s watch, bearing serial number 3’048’923, is believed to be the earliest Green Khanjar Daytona produced. 

Qaboos bin Said al Said, Sultan of Oman and the longest-serving Arab leader, was educated in England and attended the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. He came to power in 1970, overthrowing his father with British support. Aligning his country with moderate Arab powers, he embarked upon a range of modernisation programmes ranging from road-building to new schools. 

The Sultan’s collaboration with Rolex began in the early 1970s, as he sought a means to express his gratitude towards members of the British Special Forces who had helped him to suppress rebel factions between 1970 and 1976. He regularly ordered Rolex models that were adorned with the khanjar  symbol, predominantly in red or white, but also in gold or green.

The original owner of the Rolex Green Khanjar Daytona, pictured above left wearing the watch on his final flight before retirement in 1989

The original owner of the Rolex Green Khanjar Daytona, pictured above left wearing the watch on his final flight before retirement in 1989

‘Our pleasantly surprised pilot told me how he took possession of the gift, delivered his passengers safely to Ciampino, and then returned to London that same day,’ continues Kegel. ‘When he arrived he duly declared his new watch at customs, and paid £10 to cover import duty and tax.’

What makes this watch stand out is the accompanying documentation, telling the story of a ‘hidden treasure’ which has only recently come to light. ‘The pilot kept the original customs declaration and receipt dated 28 March 1974, and recorded the flights in his personal flying log book. This superb watch, in beautiful condition, is being sold not only with its original box, guarantee form and brochures, but also with copies of the owner’s personal flying log book, UK customs declaration and receipt,’ Kegel enthuses.

Our pilot retired in 1989, following a long and distinguished career with British Airways which had begun in 1956, when the airline was know as BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation). The above image shows him on his final flight, proudly sporting his Green Khanjar Daytona. 

‘As a symbol of the Sultan of Oman’s appreciation for a service rendered, and a tangible memento of a highly distinguished career, this watch is truly captivating,’ says Kegel. ‘Really, it has everything that a collector could hope for — it represents, I would say, a superb trophy for the connoisseur of exceptional watches.’