Regular price £29,995
Sale price £29,995 Regular price
Shipping calculated at checkout.
Book an appointment

Pickup available at London Showroom

Usually ready in 2-4 days


  • London Showroom

    Pickup available, usually ready in 2-4 days

    35/37 Ludgate Hill
    London EC4M 7JN
    United Kingdom




MODEL: 6429
YEAR: 1969

Born in 1927 in Hannibal, Missouri, USA to a family of 8 children, Leo McKenzie was of Scottish/Irish heritage. Nicknamed ‘Red’ by his friends, he proudly wore his ancestry. His hometown was immortalised in Mark Twain's books, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. “Injun Joe’s Cave” featured in these stories, and Leo worked as a guide there as a teenager.

Coming from a military family, with two brothers who enlisted during World War Two, Leo was in ‘Boot-Camp’ preparing for deployment when the war ended. He then re-enlisted in the Navy after attaining a college degree.

Though not much is known of his early years, it is known he served with the United States Navy during the Korean War, later working in sales for General Electric in Los Angeles. However, this civilian job was short-lived as Leo returned to the US Navy in 1956.

While all the ships he sailed on are not known, he was stationed on the USS Intrepid and the USS Independence in the 1950s and 1960s. In the early 1960s, Leo was posted to the US Navy base in Naples, Italy, where he married a NATO secretary from England and had two children.

Assigned to Virginia for a year, Leo lived in Arlington with his wife and son, working possibly in both Arlington and Norfolk, VA. He and his wife loved Naples for its beautiful views, history, Isle of Capri, and Amalfi coastline. Leo arranged to be based there during 1961-1964, 1966-1969, and 1971-1972.

Leo attended when JFK visited the Naples base in August 1963, proudly shaking the President's hand. Tragically, President Kennedy was assassinated three months later.

Leo spoke fondly of many colleagues, especially admiring Admiral Isaac C. Kidd Jr., son of Rear Admiral Kidd who died on the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor. Admiral Kidd Jr. commanded the US Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean when Leo was in Italy, inspiring Leo through his speeches and functions.

In 1970, Leon was assigned to Charleston, South Carolina, living in Menriv Park near Goose Creek with his family for a year. He undertook a short tour to Puerto Rico on the USS Hunley, a Submarine tender during this time.

His final assignment in Naples was in 1971, followed by a year-long tour in SE Asia on the USS Hunley, mentioning stops in Guam, the Philippines, and Australia. It was during this tour that Leo bought the Rolex 6429 via a US Postal Exchange on one of the bases. .

After completing this tour, Leo joined his family in England, intending to leave the Navy and settle there. However, he struggled to adapt to civilian life and returned alone to the USA, working for the Navy in a civilian capacity in Pittsburgh.

Before leaving England, Leo gave the Rolex to his English father-in-law, who kept it until his death in 1998 when it was inherited by his son.

Leo eventually returned to Hannibal, MO, where some of his siblings lived. He passed away in a veterans home in 1993 and was laid to rest with a military funeral. The watch has remained with his son here in the UK since inheriting it in 1998. 

This brings us squarely to the watch itself, you could easily look at this unassuming 34mm Oyster and think, this is just a 60's manual wind Oyster Precision, and its a fair assumption to make. But this is why we love the idiosyncrasies of vintage, the devil is in the detail. The 6429 is actually one the rarest references to bear the crown, seen in a narrow 2.0m serial range and with two different dials, one being the blank 3-6-9 variant we have here and one with Commando written in between the hands and the 6 numeral. 

There are several theories to this watch's existence, The most common being that the 6429 was made and offered to the US Army & Airforce Exchange Service (essentially the US version of the NAAFI) as a cheap, simple and sturdy watch for their troops. The story above backs up this theory. The left over stock that wasn’t purchased was then sold to the famous American outfitter Abercrombie & Fitch. A&F started retailing the 6429 in 1972 at the now mere cost of $108.75 with the word Commando printed on the dial. The Commando version of the 6429 is seen more commonly than the blank dial which makes you wonder how many were sold before A&F bought the stock?

The watch itself is powered by a simple Calibre 1225 manual wind based on the 6426, all the Commando's seen have the 6426 caseback like this one, but the case is stamped 6429. The hands are a baton style and the dial has an explorer style 3-6-9 layout with the Rolex coronet sitting high up next to the outer track. The watch still retains its American made C&I rivet bracelet with the clasp stamp of 1/72.

The case is in superb shape on the watch, extremely full with little to no signs of polishing. The dial markers have aged wonderfully, the hands look to have been relumed at some point in the past. The watch comes with a bespoke made Zippo billet steel lighter that commemorated the tour he did when he had the watch as well as photos of Leo.

For us this is a real stealth watch, it takes a trained eye to spot this ultra rare piece and that really is one of its biggest attractions. The watch has recently had a movement service with mainspring change and is running well. 250 amps, 0.2 beat error and -6 per day. 

Get in touch to discover more

If you have any questions about vintage watches, or about a particular watch in our collection, we're happy to answer them.