( Fuerza Aerea Peru )
An insight into funky daytonas
Another tale from Latin America.
In Buenos Aires I had the pleasure thanks to a friend to meet and dine with Señor T. ( I will not disclose his full name ) the undisputed biggest watch and jewelry dealer in the early nineteen eighties until early two thousands Latin America .
He is known for being very reserved and only would attend to an inner circle. In the early two thousands I already heard of his name and his buying power he would turn around one million dollars a month In watches jewelry and dollars with out a blink of an eye .
Pretty straight up guy nothing fancy in his late sixties red hair blue eyes beer belly sporting just a polo shirt and jeans .
He retired from dealing watches and jewelry in two thousand and five bought a twelve floors hotel in the Buenos Aires Jewelry district and keeps a floor for himself to stay over and hold Office mid week where he is a major gold dealer .
I asked him about some anecdotes about the early days and rare watch finds. He shared some stories which left me astounded and gives great insight about the actual discussion we have about vintage daytonas.
From the early eighties to the early two thousands he and others would travel to Peru and buy up the NOS or unused Rolex daytonas laying in the FAP deposits directly from the corrupt Peruvian armed forces, according to him a rough estimate around a couple of thousand daytonas in 20 years . Prices in the 80s where 300 dollars in the late nineties around 800 -1000 dollar.
Their mayor clients where Italian dealers from Torino Italy and the Italians in the early period would Exchange one gold stainless steel datejust for every two daytonas , the Rolex datejust where very in demand Argentina in that period and a profitable bussines.
Next he told me some very interesting details which will explain a lot .
With an expression of disgust he said the Peruvian Armed Forces did not have a caseback tool to open the watches up to inspect the movements so sometimes they would file open the casebacks thus destroying them. And back in Argentina they would look for other casebacks from other Rolex models to fit and modify them.
The Italians dealers did not want the the F.A.P inscription in the case backs because they could not sell them . So they all polished them off in Argentina . Later I asked a friend a watch maker , he confirmed he got tired of polishing of the F.A.P. Inscriptions of hundreds of daytonas and also added another detail that they would service the movements in batches and most of the times did not put them back in the original case thus causing a mix up in movement -and case serial numbers.
Most of the daytonas being NOS and with polished casebacks they need some proof of authenticity so they also would provide the Italians occasionally with papers and add ones .
Mind you the Italian dealers involved are vintage Rolex Pioneers dealers who wrote books we still read today.
Another anecdote he told me was about a white gold Daytona from the FAP(polished caseback and all ) he couriered it off to Italy to a client in the nineteen eighties but the Italian customs would not release it claiming It was a fake. He wired money to pay the fine and a year later he picked it up , he had it authentified by Rolex Torino then Rolex Milan and when the client was still not convinced he took it to Rolex Geneva who authentified it as genuine . When he offered it again to the Italian client he did not want to buy it anymore saying daytonas prices had dropped in the last year.
Finally asking him his opinion on Italian dealers with a wink he says the best fake case makers in the world come from Bologna.
After enjoying a fine dinner with expensive wines he suggest we share the ice cream dessert among the three of us because ten dollar for per ice cream is to expensive when the 300 dollar bill came paid 300 dollar and a 100 dollar tip without blinking his eyes.
So if you ever wondered why Rolex is so mysterious and so carefully with extracts on Rolex daytonas consider this , there casebacks where replaced , or polished or are missing a few mm, their movements got mixed up in the wrong cases and their biggest evangelist who frontend important auctions and who wrote books where the same dealers who shamelessly sold modified daytonas with fake papers. I don't think Rolex want anything to do with them .
Enjoy your 300 dollar F.A.P.