Rolex. An important automatic diver's wristwatch and bracelet issued by the U. S. Navy for Sealab IIIOyster Perpetual Submariner, Ref:5513, Case no. 1271457
Lot 152
Rolex. An important automatic diver's wristwatch and bracelet issued by the U. S. Navy for Sealab III
Oyster Perpetual Submariner, Ref:5513, Case no. 1271457
US$ 30,000 - 50,000
£ 24,000 - 40,000

Fine Watches and Wristwatches

8 Dec 2015, 13:00 EST

New York

Lot Details
Rolex. An important automatic diver's wristwatch and bracelet issued by the U. S. Navy for Sealab IIIOyster Perpetual Submariner, Ref:5513, Case no. 1271457 Rolex. An important automatic diver's wristwatch and bracelet issued by the U. S. Navy for Sealab IIIOyster Perpetual Submariner, Ref:5513, Case no. 1271457 Rolex. An important automatic diver's wristwatch and bracelet issued by the U. S. Navy for Sealab IIIOyster Perpetual Submariner, Ref:5513, Case no. 1271457 Rolex. An important automatic diver's wristwatch and bracelet issued by the U. S. Navy for Sealab IIIOyster Perpetual Submariner, Ref:5513, Case no. 1271457
Rolex. An important automatic diver's wristwatch and bracelet issued by the U. S. Navy for Sealab III
Oyster Perpetual Submariner, Ref:5513, Case no. 1271457
17-jewel Cal. 1520 self-winding movement, black dial marked "200m=660ft"with gilt minute ring enclosing luminous dot and baton numerals, polished hands with luminous fill, gilt sweep second hand, tonneau screw back case, dated "III.65", engraved "SEALAB 3" on the case back, rotating one hour bezel (now faded), screw down crown, with Oyster 93150 bracelet and 580 endpiece, locking deployant clasp, case, dial and movement signed
39mm

Footnotes

  • Provenance:

    Commander Jackson Maxwell Tomsky, thence by descent to his granddaughter

    Commander Jackson Maxwell Tomsky (1919-2013) enlisted in the US navy at the age of 18, in his hometown of San Francisco. During World War II he was assigned to the USS Chewink, a submarine rescue and salvage ship where he got trained as a diver.

    In 1951, Tomsky became a commission officer, a "mustang" as enlisted sailor who got commissioned without going to the Naval Academy were known and he took commanding officer course at the Navy's deep-sea diving school. In 1962, after a few assignments among submarine rescue vessels, Tomsky became commander of the rescue ship Chanticleer where he earned the nickname "Black Jack" because of his imposing size, dark black hair and deep, booming voice. In 1965 Tomsky became the assistant officer in charge of the Deep-Diving School.

    Within a month in that role Tomsky was asked to join the Navy's Deep Submergence System Project (DSSP) to become the commander of SEALAB III. His responsibilities was to remodel and expand the SEALAB II habitat, select 60 aquanauts and support divers for a two-month mission 600ft below the ocean.
    SEALAB III was successfully lowered to the to the Ocean floor off the coast of Southern California on February 15, 1969, but the pressurized lab was leaking badly and four divers were to do the repairs. On February 17 1969, Berry Cannon, one of the assigned aquanaut died while attempting to repair the habitat due to a combination of human error and technical difficulties. After an investigation from the Navy, Tomsky was given a punitive letter of admonition but was soon called back to duty to assist with the secret program within the SEALAB program known as "The Projects", which involved adapting saturation diving methods and equipment developed for SEALAB so that divers could be dispatched from submarines on spy missions.

    Tomsky left the navy in 1975 and became the North Sea diving manager for J Ray Mc Dermott & Co., a major offshore contractor. He then became president and CEO of Hydrospace International, a provider of commercial diving services.


    SEALAB

    SEALAB I, II, and III were experimental underwater habitats developed by the United States Navy in the 1960s to prove the viability of saturation diving and humans living in isolation for extended periods of time. The knowledge gained from the SEALAB expeditions helped advance the science of deep sea diving and rescue, and contributed to better understanding of the psychological and physiological endurance. NASA was also interested in the project for their own studies of Human behavior in space. The famous astronaut Scott Carpenter was an Aquanaut in SEALAB II and the Deputy Commander in SEALAB III.

    SEALAB I: Experiment was launched in Bermuda in 1964. Maximum Depth 192ft
    Project Leaders: Captain George "Papa Topside" Bond and Commander Walter Mazzone.
    For eleven days, four aquanauts spent living and working 192 feet below the surface to offer evidence of the viability of a "saturation diving," so named because it involved allowing a diver's body to fully absorb the gases breathed under the pressure of a given depth.

    SEALAB II: Experiment was launched in La Jolla, CA in August 1965. Maximum Depth 205 ft.
    Project Leaders: Captain George "Papa Topside" Bond and Commander Walter Mazzone
    Each team spent 15 days in the habitat, but aquanaut/astronaut Scott Carpenter remained below for a record 30 days. In addition to physiological testing the divers tested new tools, methods of salvage, and an electrically heated drysuit. They were aided by a bottlenose dolphin named Tuffy from the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program. Aquanauts and Navy trainers attempted, with mixed results, to teach Tuffy to ferry supplies from the surface to SEALAB or from one diver to another, and to come to the rescue of an aquanaut in distress.

    SEALAB III: Experiment was launched San Clemente Island, CA in February 1969. Maximum Depth 610 ft.
    Project leaders: Commander Jackson "Black Jack" Tomsky and Deputy Commander Scott Carpenter.
    The habitat soon began to leak and four divers were sent to repair it, but they were unsuccessful. During the second attempt, aquanaut Berry L. Cannon died. It was found that his rebreather was missing baralyme, the chemical necessary to remove carbon dioxide.
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