Julian Nott is something of a legend in hot air ballooning circles with the British born enthusiast having amassed more than 75 world records (plus almost 100 British records) across a myriad of classes over his lengthy career. A valued scientific consultant to elite organizations like NASA and the European Space Agency, it’s hard to overstate the gravity of Nott’s impact and influence on ballooning, though one of his most celebrated feats is his world-record-breaking 1974 flight in which he and a co-pilot reached an altitude of 45,836-feet.
During Nott’s record-setting flight in ’74 (in which he beat his own prior record), he wore a 1972 Rolex Explorer II 1655 watch which managed to survive the more 8.5-mile-high journey. The elite Swiss watchmaker immortalized the feat via an advertising campaign built around Nott’s high-flying antics, along with honoring the Brit with the company’s Award For Enterprise. Four-and-a-half-decades after Nott’s ’74 flight and the very Rolex worn by the pilot is now being offered at auction. Sporting a 40mm stainless steel case, a Cal. 1570, self-winding movement, stainless band and clasp, a flat black dial decorated with tritium hour markers, and a solid casebook stamped with Nott’s initials, the storied timepiece is being sold through Heritage Auctions with a bevy of paperwork and documentation surrounding the famous ’74 flight. Bidding doesn’t end for another week, though it’s already reached $13,500.