Every luxury Rolex replica watches is a vessel for a story, and a simple engraving is one way to reveal it. Always read the caseback.
Take the AAA US fake Rolex Ref. 6605 watches currently up for auction at Heritage Auctions. Its case is 34mm, made from solid 18k gold, and the aging matte-white dial bears an insignia at 6 o’clock, depicting the Thunderbird, a mythical creature that appears in the oral and written traditions of Indigenous-American tribes across North America; it’s said that lightning arcs from its eyes and thunder bursts from its wings.
Flip the high quality replica Rolex watches over and it gets even more interesting. Inscribed in the caseback is “Herman E. Griffin, The Thunderbirds”.
Captain Herman Griffin was a United States Air Force officer and pilot with the Air Force’s flight demonstration team, the Thunderbirds. He was part of the team from 1958-60, and at the time it was standard practice for Rolex to give each pilot a watch – sometimes in solid gold – with the flight team’s insignia on the dial. Plenty of these models have crossed the block before, but what sets this example apart is the fact that it’s a ref. 6606, cheap Rolex Datejust replica watches, and not a ref. 6609, a “Turn-O-Graph” like many examples that have been sold in recent years from Christie’s, Phillips, and Sotheby’s.
Any reference with a Thunderbird insignia is a highly desirable vintage Rolex, and for good reason. It’s a relic of the days when Swiss Rolex copy watches were championed by the men and women pushing the boundaries of aviation and putting their lives on the line daily. Starting in ’56, the Thunderbirds flew the F-100C Super Sabre, the first supersonic fighter, making them the first supersonic aircraft demonstration team in the world – Capt. Griffin was one of them.
Chuck Yeager had famously piloted the Bell X-1 to 662mph, breaking the sound barrier in ’47. Less than a decade later the Thunderbirds were breaking the sound barrier during weekly demonstrations to the amazement of crowds around the globe. At subsonic speeds, the planes flew in tight formation, less than ten feet apart. Now, according to the USAF Thunderbirds fact sheet, “more than 280 million people in all 50 states and 57 foreign countries have seen the red, white, and blue Thunderbirds jets in more than 3,500 aerial demonstrations.”
The Rolex Thunderbird and the Aerial Demonstration Team That Inspired the Nickname
In the early 1950s, America was keen to tout its newfound military position with a recruitment tool that made a sonic boom-sized statement. On June 1, 1953 the Thunderbirds were activated at Luke AFB, Arizona, and they flew the F-84G Thunderjet and the F-84F Thunderstreak. The F-84 platform was celebrated for its role in the Korean War, which had ended the same year the Thunderbirds were created. The team’s goal was to inspire confidence in the United States Air Force among the public, recruit and retain future and current airmen, and “strengthen morale and esprit de corps among Air Force members” while “positively representing the professionalism and goodwill of the United States abroad.” At 4:00 in the video below, you’ll see Capt. Griffin chatting with fellow Thunderbirds pilots.
It was the first time in history that the public had a front-row view of the incredible machines that were breaking the sound barrier and defending the country around the world. The Thunderbirds were a phenomenon that captivated public imagination and brought massive crowds out to hear the intoxicating turbojet whistle and precision maneuvering. In 1956, the Thunderbirds expanded their presence and moved to Nellis AFB to facilitate the F-100 Super Sabre, the supersonic platform that Griffin flew. The new jets were much faster, louder, and featured an even more aggressive swept-wing design than the F-84 before it.
And such a sight had a watch to match. Top Rolex replica watches capitalized on the popularity of the Thunderbirds by giving a watch to each pilot and then producing an example of the same watch to sell to the public. There isn’t an official record or account from Rolex, but the story goes that after issuing Swiss movements Rolex super clone watches to the pilots, Rolex developed a marketing campaign around the Thunderbirds and dubbed their own 6609 perfect fake Rolex Datejust Turn-O-Graph watches the “Thunderbird.” Period advertisements support this theory. A solid gold 6609 Turn-O-Graph bearing the Thunderbirds insignia was offered for sale to the public for a mere $1,000 alongside the ones given to the pilots.
The reference was produced from ’56 to ’59 and featured a “roulette” date wheel: the date printed on the date wheel alternates between black and red. This specific reference, with the Thunderbirds crest, is incredibly desirable and has seen a dramatic price increase on the auction circuit.
But what makes Griffin’s high quality Rolex replica watches different is that it is not a 6609, but a 6605. Another one of these Thunderbirds 6605 references surfaced last year through Phillips, and it belonged to Capt. Gayle Williams. A ’70s Thunderbirds fan magazine corroborates that both Griffin and Williams served the Thunderbirds from ’58-’59. Williams was the Left Wing, and Griffin was the solo pilot. They were both given the same watch, a solid gold 6605 with the Thunderbirds crest, and were photographed extensively wearing the watch during their service.
The reference 6605 isn’t the usual reference associated with the Thunderbirds, but Capt. Griffin wasn’t your stereotypical pilot either.
The High-Flying Tales of Capt. Griffin
When Herman Griffin passed away, Tom Griffin, his grandson, was seven years old. Tom doesn’t remember much about his grandfather, but the legacy of his Thunderbirds-pilot grandfather filled his youthful imagination with old flying stories.
Tom told me that Herman Griffin formed some of his fearlessness early on in life. “My grandfather grew up in an orphanage, and any time a new boy would show up, he’d fight them to see what they were made of. He also frequently got caught sneaking out of the orphanage.”
And that wasn’t the only time Griffin bent the rules. “My sister and I have heard slightly different stories, but in either San Francisco or London, my grandfather took his jet during a practice session and flew it right under a bridge just to see if it could be done,” Tom says. And of course, he did successfully fly the F-100C under a bridge, but “during the debriefing, he was firmly told to never, ever, under any circumstance, do that again.”
The Thunderbirds did not incorporate that maneuver into the routine during that show in San Francisco or London.
But those nerves of steel in the cockpit paid off. After his tenure as a Thunderbird, he went on to become an experimental test pilot. During my research, I came across an incident report from September 16th, 1959: While Griffin was training, a landing gear failure occurred, creating a scenario where it was impossible to land safely. Griffin ditched the jet in an unpopulated area in Kentucky and safely ejected. He had to let go of the plane.
And Tom Griffin feels it’s time to let go of his grandfather’s watch. It’s as simple as that. He wore it once, for his wedding, but he remembers growing up watching his dad take it out every few years and giving it a little shake to make sure it still ticked.
The Rolex fake watches wholesale online will leave the family and likely find a new home with a well-heeled Rolex collector. But the engraving in the caseback will forever remain unchanged, marking the man whose high-flying adventures and commitment to the mission of the Thunderbirds allow them to keep inspiring us to this very day.
If you’ve never seen them perform before, you owe it to yourself to take in some of the best precision flying on the planet. Or you can make an offer on the replica Rolex watches store site and experience precision timekeeping with a historical connection to the Thunderbirds.