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Rolex GMT Owned by Decorated Navy Helicopter Pilot, Thomas Finley, Will Be Auctioned by Bob’s Watches October 31, 2023 (0 comments)


Newport Beach, CA--Bob’s Watches is holding a special single-lot auction that serves as a part of military and space history. The online retailer of secondary watches is offering a 1675 Rolex GMT-Master, circa 1968, owned by Thomas Francis Finley Jr., a retired United States Navy veteran who served for 28 years as a captain. He also volunteered on the USS Midway stationed at Navy Pier in San Diego for the past 17 years.

The watch is valued by Bob’s Watches at $15,000 - $30,000. The auction will be held on a dedicated space on the Bob's Watches website from November 10 till November 14.

Finley joined the Navy in October 1966 and piloted the H3 helicopter for a variety of special operations, including the retrieval of the astronauts from Apollo 14 after splashing down in the South Pacific Ocean on February 9, 1971.

While on these missions Finley wore the GMT Master, which will be auctioned through the Bob’s Watches auction platform.

In addition to the GMT, the lot will include souvenirs acquired by Finley over his years in the Navy. It includes: a piece of skin from the Kitty Hawk spacecraft, a framed NASA photograph that captures Finley’s helicopter above the Kitty Hawk during that iconic recovery, a signed Underwater Demolition Team II pamphlet, Finley’s personal G1 flight jacket, issued in 1967, which has several swapped patches that carries traces of the past.

This watch is coming directly from Finley, the only owner of this timepiece. He purchased it in 1969 in Hong Kong at Artland Watch Co. while he was on a week-long “shore leave,” according to Bob’s Watches. He bought the Rolex to replace his field watch, which flooded.

Finley served a crucial role in the recovery of the Apollo 14 mission as he was the co-pilot of the helicopter that picked up the astronauts. Apollo 14 was the eighth crewed mission by the United States and the third to land on the Moon. The prime crew members for Apollo 14 were Alan B. Shepard Jr, Stuart A. Roosa and Edgar G. Mitchell. The astronauts were transported by Finley’s helicopter to the USS New Orleans, which was the prime recovery vessel. From the USS New Orleans, the astronauts were transported by Finley and his crew to Pago-Pago in American Samoa.

Finley is now a volunteer at the USS Midway in San Diego. He was a docent for the last 17 years and an instructor on the ship for the last 15 years. He has logged nearly 8000 volunteer hours aboard.

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