when "SIDE B" makes the difference...

..that is to say..i most famous crowned casebacks in history!

The dial is considered by collectors to be the most important part of a watch, especially when it comes to vintage. In fact, the state of conservation of the same, together with any rare particularities, are elements that almost totally determine the historical and economic value of a piece.

However, sometimes the dial fades into the background, leaving room for another important but more discreet protagonist: the caseback.

In this article we will immerse ourselves in the discovery of some of the most important crowned in history, relevance that is given almost entirely by the engraving that they jealously hide on the back of the case.


Colonel Kurtz's GMT Master 1675 “M.Brando”.


Thinking of the famous film by Francis Ford Coppola, you will all remember the squadron of helicopter gunships led by Colonel Kilgore, with the Ride of the Valkyries in the background… simply one of the most iconic war scenes in history.

Here, Apocalypse Now is a real milestone of cinema, a 1979 film that became a cult winner of two Oscars, as well as an authentic and raw representation of the events that took place during the conflict between the United States and Vietnam.

Of course when a film reaches this level of importance even the details come to the surface.

In fact, we've all noticed Colonel Kurtz's watch, played by Marlon Brando. 

The choice of "filming partner" is rather singular, Brando decides to take a Rolex GMT 1675 with him. Great watch for heaven's sake but not really suitable for a war scenario.

The director also seems to be of the same opinion, so the actor decides to keep the GMT for the film anyway but definitively removes the brightly colored bezel and the bracelet, the latter too visible on the battlefield.

However, what has left everyone amazed is the personalization that the actor has decided to do on the case back, engraving the initial of the name and the surname: "M. Brando".



In doing so, the watch is definitively linked to Colonel Kurtz, so much so that it is proudly shown in many shots of the time, in some where it even becomes the protagonist of the scene.

Now you're wondering: "But what happened to the watch after the movie?"

It simply remained in the drawer until 1995 when the actor decided to give it to his daughter: Petra Brando Fischer. In 2003 Petra in turn offers it to her husband (lucky him).

And like all pieces of history where could it ever end? Obviously at auction. Sold by the famous Phillips Bacs&Russo for $1.952.000,00.

 The Submariner 5517 “Milsub” for special missions

 To tell you this story we have to take a leap from the Philippines (Apocalypse Now set) to Great Britain.



We are therefore at the beginning of the 70s, when the British Ministry of Defense is looking for robust watches to supply as equipment to its soldiers specialized in marine missions.

The choice falls on the reliability of the Submariner 5513 but to comply with the precise technical specifications of the MOD (Ministry of Defence) it undergoes heavy modifications. 

First of all, the reference changes, now 5517. On a technical level, compared to the "road" version (5513), it loses the steel bracelet, too visible on the battlefield due to its brilliance, to make room for the fixed lugs so that it can be used with a NATO strap.



Even the ball game changes, passing from the classic "Mercedes" to the much more visible and technical "Gladio".

The bezel insert is now fully graduated, an essential change to make it easier to use during missions.

The famous circled letter T appears on the dial, indicating the type of luminescent paste used, no longer radium but tritium.

Turning the clock over, we see its true essence: assignment to the military. A sequence of numbers that links the watch directly to its owner.



Today the market rewards Military Subs very much, partly because very few specimens have been produced and even fewer are left intact, and partly because they have never been produced for civilian use.

But we enthusiasts tie ourselves more to the stories than to the objects themselves, in fact through the assignment we can trace the actual owner. This allows us to learn about his history, what he did and the missions he undertook.

The Submariner 5514 “Comex” 

If you love snorkelling and professional diving, this is definitely the holy grail for you. 

We are talking about the legendary Rolex Submariner "Comex" reference 5514, a project created exclusively for the French company and never produced for civilian use, which is why the historical and economic value of these pieces is very high and often reach staggering figures at international auctions. .


But let's proceed in order...

Comex, acronym for Compagnie Maritime d'Expertises, was a leading French marine exploration company founded in 1961.



Operating at very important depths, they needed more resistant than normal instruments, in fact the glass of the traditional Submariner at certain depths broke due to the helium.

Technically it works like this: during the ascent the helium is gradually expelled from the decompression chamber. The watch, on the other hand, is unable to get rid of the gas so "quickly", generating a very high pressure difference inside it with respect to the outside, which caused the glass to explode.

Thus the 1972 was born in 5514. Basically a classic Submariner but with an essential modification that definitively solves the Comex problem: a side valve on the case for the rapid expulsion of helium.



The 5514 differs from the classic 5513 for other small details, such as the Comex writing on the dial and for the assignment on the case back which also in this case links it directly with its owner.



“PanAm” rules the skies with GMT 


On the Incasodivintage blog we have already talked about the collaboration between PanAm and Rolex, we invite you to retrieve the complete article by following the link below.




Rolex Cosmograph 6263 “FAP” 

To tell this last story we have to fly just below the America of PanAm, in Peru.

It all began in the late 50s, when the top management of the Peruvian Air Force decided to supply their pilots and officers with highly accurate and reliable watches.


Initially the choice falls on Omega but it does not last long, in fact throughout the 60s and 70s they rely on Rolex, commissioning less than 1000 watches.

 Within this very limited and personalized series we find the references  6238 Pre-Daytona, 6239, 6263 and 6265. There are also very few and very rare 1675 and 1680.

 All these models are called “FAP” precisely because of the black enamel “Fuerza Aerea del Perù” engraving on the case back, together with the assignment number, the latter made with the pantography technique. 


Being a very light engraving technique it could wear off after heavy use over the years.


At the time of definitive leave, the watch had to be returned, ready to be reassigned to a new pilot.

 “CASEBACK” Collection

We at Incasodivintage are very passionate about these stories and have decided to pay homage to the most hidden (visible) part of these fantastic pieces. 

So we can officially announce the release of the “CASEBACK” collection, starring the 1675 by Marlon Brando, the 5517 “Milsub”, the 5514 Comex, the 1675 PanAm and the 6263 FAP.




Matthew Fratini | In case of vintage