Some watches tell a story of the owner. This couldn’t be more true of the watch we received for repair from Col. Smith.
The internal repairs and cosmetic damage proved too much of a financial burden for him, so we started discussing the option of a trade, which presented some difficulties. The watch, you see, held considerable sentimental value for the Colonel. It, after all, had saved his life.
Col. Smith’s two-tone Rolex Submariner had been on his wrist through multiple tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan. With this Sub on his wrist, he received an Air Force Combat Action Medal for his direct participation with hostile forces and lethal fire during Operation Iraqi Freedom. With this watch ever at his side, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal. Then, on March 26th, 2008, Col. Smith and his men came under heavy fire and took cover near some abandoned buildings. A rocket propelled grenade (RPG) hit the building next to him.
He died. Several times, actually.
He sustained burns on more than 70% of his body. An 8 inch cube of concrete exploded off the building and hit him in the head causing brain damage and the permanent loss of most of his hearing and vision. His heart stopped several times on the operating table over the next few days and he was considered legally dead more than once. He would be medically retired from the armed forces a few months later. But he was alive. During the firefight, having seen the RPG being fired in his direction, he raised his left arm to shield himself from the blast. The cube of concrete directly impacted the Submariner on his wrist, breaking the cube into several pieces, and ultimately keeping it from completely knocking his head off his shoulders.
Col. Smith’s career ended that day, a day that he would ultimately receive the Purple Heart for.We discussed his options with him at great length. He had poor vision and absolutely needed a new dial that glowed at night. The bracelet, which also sustained damage, needed to be replaced. Without including the necessary repairs to the movement, he was looking at over $2000 in cosmetic parts alone. But how could he part with such a watch? We came up with what we felt was a very good solution. We gave him $5,000 credit for his watch in its current state to be applied to the purchase of a near brand new two-tone Submariner with random serial, ceramic bezel, gold Glide-Lock clasp, box and card, for $10,500, which he was able to do with the help of his fiancee.
For $5,500 he was able to get an essentially brand new watch that retails for $13,400. He plans to leave the watch to his fiancee when he passes, and he had us engrave the following on the case back…
When we sent the watch to him, we sent along with a small, laser inscribed, wooden display case containing the bezel insert from his original Submariner…
Thank you to Col. Smith for providing the photos, for letting us share his story, and for his service to our country.