Rolex GMT Master owned and worn by maritime explorer Vital Alsar Ramirez, £10,000 at Halls.

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The Rolex GMT Master with a ‘Pepsi’ red and blue bezel, came for sale from a family descendant together with associated ephemera, including a Rolex magazine advertisement from the period showing Alsar Ramirez wearing his watch aboard one of his rafts.

Evidence, perhaps, of some of the cooling noticeable in the Rolex market, the estimate in Shrewsbury was a more confident £12,000-18,000 for the auction on March 6.

Alsar Ramirez’s voyages were intended to demonstrate that ancient civilisations could make long sea voyages. Inspired by Thor Heyerdahl’s 1947 crossing of the Pacific between South America and Polynesia on a raft, he made a series of similar journeys in primitive craft during the 1960s-70s.

In 1970 he travelled from Ecuador to Australia in a raft constructed from balsa wood, making the crossing in 163 days, having travelled over 8500 nautical miles.

Unofficial supporter

His expeditions attracted not only media attention but interest from Rolex, which became an unofficial supporter. Alsar Ramirez favoured the GMT Master because it was designed to allow up to three time zones to be read simultaneously and Rolex had been happy to send him replacement watches whenever he needed them.

As confirmed by the factory archives, this particular example was worn by the intrepid sailor in 1977 during a voyage aboard three small hand-built galleons. He and his crew sailed 11,000 nautical miles down the Amazon before crossing the Atlantic to reach Santander in Spain, his hometown.