T. Walker Lloyd Interview
A Quarter-Century With Rolex
[Part 1 of 2]
T. Walker Lloyd was a dynamic Rolex executive for close to a quarter century. I recently completed a 9-part podcast interview series with T. Walker Lloyd that is amazing!!! T. Walker started his quarter-century career with Rolex as an oceanographic consultant and three years later became a full-time Rolex executive in New York with Rolex U.S.A.
T. Walker Lloyd was originally hired by Rene-Paul Jeanneret in Geneva and began working with Rolex in 1965 and retired from Rolex in 1990. During T. Walker Lloyd's executive career he saw Rolex, under the dynamic leadership of André Heiniger, grow from a successful Swiss company to the ultra-successful behemoth it is today.
Today, we released Podcast interview 3 of 9 with T. Walker Lloyd.
In Part 1 you get an overview of the early years of his career where he worked with the U.S. Navy SEALAB program on the development of the Rolex SEA-DWELLER.
You will also learn about how he went on to become a Rolex executive and the goto guy for working with celebrities, actors, athletes and astronauts.
In Part 2 you learn about how the Rolex Day-Date got its name of "The Rolex President" and you also learn about the back story of the NASA Rolex Moon Watches as well as how T. Walker Lloyd provided watches to man movie and TV stars including Tom Selleck for Magnum P.I.
In Part 3, T. Walker shares more fascinating stories about sports figures, supermodels, celebrities, and President Lyndon Johnson.
I believe this is the first time in history anyone has completed a recorded interview with a Rolex executive and this is very exciting. T. Walker is a sportsman and gentleman of amazing achievement and has a fascinating and magnetic personality. His insight into what makes Rolex tick, literally and figuratively is uncanny. I learned so much about Rolex' amazing history from T. Walker, that my head is still spinning!!!
T. Walker Lloyd Podcast Series
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Podcast Part 1 of 9. Running Time 54:20 [Added December 9, 2008]
Podcast Part 2 of 9. Running Time 55:12 [Added December 16, 2008]
Podcast Part 3 of 9. Running Time 54:40 [Added December 21, 2008]
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T. Walker was not only a Rolex executive, but a highly accomplished deep-sea-diver and oceanographic expert. T. Walker Lloyd appeared in the following Rolex advertisement below and also worked with Peter Benchley on the major motion picture, Jaws.
Part 1 of 9
The following images and show notes go with Part 1, and Part 2 show notes and images are directly under Part 1.
T. Walker Lloyd Rolex Advertisement from 1974
Until I published the story of Scott Carpenter and SEALAB, it was commonly believed that Rolex developed the SEA-DWELLER for the French diving company, Comex.
This is partially true, but Rolex being represented by T. Walker Lloyd, worked with SEALAB's Bob Barth & Scott Carpenter on the development of the Gas or Helium Release Valve that was added to the Rolex SEA-DWELLER, thus, as leading Rolex history expert, James Dowling recently pointed out, "The SEA-DWELLER owes more of its genesis to SEALAB than COMEX."
COMEX & Rolex
In Part 1 of the podcast series I speak with T. Walker Lloyd about the development of the Rolex SEA-DWELLER and we discuss COMEX's role. Here is a Comex ad from that timeframe.
Months ago I did an extremely detailed article about Astronaut & Aquanaut Scott Carpenter that included a podcast interview. In that interview I learned about Scott Carpenter's involvement with SEALAB on the development of the Rolex SEA-DWELLER.
This is what led me to the director of SEALAB, Bob Barth, who led me to T. Walker Lloyd.
To best understand Scott Carpenter's involvement in the development of the Rolex SEA-DWELLER we have to go back to the NASA Mercury program. The photo below is of The Original 7 Mercury astronauts. Scott Carpenter is pictured in the bottom right hand corner of the photo.
Scott Carpenter is pictured below at the Cape during the Mercury program in the early 1960s
Scott Carpenter is pictured below with his fellow Mercury astronaut John Glenn. John Glenn was the first American astronaut to leave Earth's atmosphere and he orbited around the earth three times before he landed. In later episodes of the T. Walker podcast interview we will learn about how John Glenn not only wore a Rolex but also about his involvement as a conduit between NASA and Rolex.
From NASA Astronaut to U.S. NAVY Aquanaut
Scott Carpenter was the second American to leave Earth's orbit and he also orbited around the globe three times. Scott began his career as a U.S. Navy test pilot and was featured in Tome Wolfe's book, The Right Stuff.
Carpenter then he went on to become a part of the U.S. Navy's SEALAB program. In the photo below you can see Scott Carpenter wearing his Rolex Submariner on a leather strap.
Scott Carpenter learned about the NAVY SEALAB program from his pal, Jacques Cousteau. Scott Carpenter was so inspired by what Jacques Cousteau was doing that he asked the U.S. Navy if he could work with Jacques Coustea. Jacques Cousteau was really the first SEA-DWELLER with his Conshelf program that he developed with the French Navy in the early 1960s.
SEALAB was really the U.S. Navy's version of the French Conshelf. The SEALAB habitat is pictured below hovering in dry-dock.
Scott Carpenter was the head of the dive team for SEALAB and is pictured below.
The First Rolex SEA-DWELLER
As T. Walker Lloyd mentioned in his podcast interview, the SEALAB saturation divers were experiencing a challenge with their crystals exploding off their Rolex Submariner watches when they would come-up during decompression. So Bob Barth, the director of SEALAB worked with Rolex on the development of the helium gas escape valve with T. Walker Lloyd.
T. Walker Lloyd came up with the idea that even though the gas escape valve on the SEA-DWELLER was only for emitting helium that it should not be named "The Helium Escape Valve." He argued it should be named "The Gas Escape Valve" because he said that in the future saturation divers might likely use other gases. To this day, Rolex calls it the "The Gas Escape Valve," which is displayed prominently on the new DEEP-SEA SEA-DWELLER inner ring.
Scott Carpenter is pictured below while living under the ocean on SEALAB 2 for 28 days, which set a record for living in an underwater habitat. Notice the Rolex Submariner on his wrist.
The next four recent photos were taken exclusively for Jake's Rolex Watch Blog and feature one of Scott Carpenter's early "Patent Pending" Rolex SEA-DWELLERS which he still owns.
Notice the Patent Pending designation on the caseback.
The Kojak President
In T. Walker Lloyd's part 1 podcast interview, he tells a story about the Rolex "Hands" advertising campaign he worked on, where he worked with Telly Savalas, who played "Kojak" on TV. Here is the Rolex magazine advertisement from the Telly Savalas "Hands" campaign.
Robert Redford in The Candidate
T. Walker mentioned Robert Redford wearing a Rolex in The Candidate and The Electric Horseman.
Charlton Heston & Son
T. Walker told the story about Charlton Heston and his son who are pictured below. According to T. Walker, Charlton Heston appeared in a Rolex advertisement for Rolex that I have never seen. Charlton's son is pictured with him in this photo and he is wearing a two-tone Rolex Datejust.
Sean Connery in Thunderball
T. Walker mentioned he was on the set of Thunderball and that Rolex provided the Rolex Submariner for Sean Connery to wear. I think T. Walker misunderstood my question when I asked him what James Bond movie came first and he answered "Thunderball." I think he meant that Thunderball was the first James Bond movie that he was on the set of as a Rolex representative. Of course, Dr. No was the first James Bond movie and Sean Connery wore his now famous Rolex Submariner. The photo below is of Sean Connery from Thunderball.
T. Walker Lloyd mentioned he gave Clint Eastwood his Rolex Root Beer GMT Master which you can see Clint wearing below.
T. Walker Lloyd mentioned that actor James Brolin introduced him to Clint Eastwood. James Brolin is pictured below with his wife, Barbra Streisand, and James is wearing a yellow Gold Rolex Daytona.