ROLEX FAP : The Hidden force of Daytonas

Little boys are often asked what they would like to become when they grow up and the responses vary from fireman, doctor or pilot. Simple answers regardless of social status and income, guided our childhood dreams of becoming our world’s heroes. A quick reality check is that most of these young boys eventually changed their minds after realizing the amount of study needed to become a doctor or the paycheck of a fireman but at the bottom of their hearts, the young boys still live and are amazed by any story or object reminding them of these simpler times. Probably for this reason, when we hear stories about timepieces assigned to heroic submariners, pilots or prisoners of war our interest is instantly captivated and we believe we have found our next grail watch.

Such is the story of the Rolex Daytona supplied to the Peruvian Air Force, an army unit initially created in 1911 which solidified its power by the 1950s with the merger of the Peruvian army and navy. Fuerza Aerea del Peru, as many other army units at the time, decided to supply their pilots and high-ranking officials with the most precise chronographs of the time. Initially, they were supplied by Omega but by the beginning of 1960s Rolex took over and It is said that the inception of this story, has its base on the friendship of the director of Rolex in South America and the official Rolex dealer in the capital of Peru.

Rolex FAP Daytona reference 6263 manufactured in 1975

Rolex FAP Daytona reference 6263 manufactured in 1975. Sold by Christies in November 2013 for CHF100,000 (approx. 92,700€). Discover more at christies.com

No matter how this historic collaboration began, we know that very limited numbers of Daytonas were supplied to the FAP until the 1980s, counting from 700 to 800 in total, consisting of the celebrated references 6239, 6263, 6265 and the pre-Daytona 6238. During the same period, two more references were specifically produced and delivered to the FAP: THE GMT Master 1675 and the Submariner 1680.

Rolex Submariner ref. 1680 made for Peruvian Air Force. Screw back case engraved “Fuerza Aerea del Perù”. Discover more at onlyvintage.com

The chronographs delivered to the FAP were based on the standard production models of civilians while carrying some distinguishing features. Starting with the case back, we find a circular outer-line engraving of “Fuerza Aerea del Peru” on the outside, co-existing with the issue number or military assignment lightly engraved and filled with black enamel. It is important to mention that Rolex actually engraved and kept record of these issue numbers delivered to FAP but it is noticed that in a lot of cases, the light engraving has worn off since these watches were heavily used, as they ought to.

A beautiful example of a Rolex FAP Daytona ref. 6263 carrying the engravings issued by Rolex but also featuring a personalized engraving on the case back, by the pilot that owned it.

Regarding the inside of the case back, we find the three last digits of the serial number appearing in the earliest examples while the entirety of it appears later on in production, contrary to most civilian examples that carry the serial number just between the lugs. These serial numbers are in fact quite close when referring to the badges delivered to the FAP and vary from 1 to 6 million depending on the time period of production.

Rolex FAP Daytona ref. 6265 delivered to “Fuerza Aerea del Perù”. Discover more at onlyvintage.com

In the case of a Daytona, if the dial is responsible for its identity then its story is responsible for its personality. Such historic details are what uplift a beautiful watch to the pantheon of emblematic models. From our part, we tend to believe that the historical importance and rarity of this reference is not truly reflected in its current market value. Interesting enough, the history of the vintage watch market has taught us that such distinguishing details and stories are appraised sooner or later with extraordinary value results. From our part, we are sure that even today, we have not yet seen the epilogue of the FAP Daytona’s history.