In 1959 Rolex introduced the GMT-Master and this model and its successors have been in production ever since. This year, Rolex surprised friend and foe with a new version featuring a black & blue bezel. That alone makes a perfect good reason to look back that the immense and impressive history of the Rolex GMT-Master. Next week we’ll focus on following models, however this week we’ll focus on the first model, being the GMT-Master reference 1675.
The GMT-Master has been in production for 21 consecutive years, from 1959 until 1980. In that period, there have been a few changes to the watch, however no major changes. Because collectors and the current market value will dispute this, I might need to rephrase and say that there have been no major technical changes. Indeed, prices of models can vary immensely depending on the year the watch was build and/or certain visual features.
The photos we present you today are taken by Duncan and show his vintage Rolex GMT-Master 1675 from 1966. Let’s go over the changes that the ref. 1675 experienced over time. The photos however will only show Duncan’s 1966 GMT-Master.
The 1959 GMT-Master ref. 1675 had a predecessor, which also featured a red GMT hand and the same name. When the ref. 1675 was released in 1959 it had many similar visual characteristics, however the ref. 1675 was equipped with the new caliber 1565 that beats at 18,000 vph. In 1971 the movement was replaced by caliber 1575, and that caliber remained “in service” until the reference 1675 was succeeded by reference 16750 in 1981. This movement, caliber 1575, had a higher beat rate of 19,600 vph.
Around 1964/1965 the GMT-Master was outfitted with crown guards. Something that the previous GMT-Master, the ref. 6452, didn’t have. GMT-Masters without crown guards are incredibly sought-after and prices are much higher than of later models with the crown guards. At first the crown guards were so-called pointy crown guards, which later changed to the rounder crown guards. The pointy crown guards also fetch higher prices as models with rounded, less pointy, crown guards.
Another, for collectors, very significant difference between the GMT-Master from before 1964/1965 and after, is the thinner case and the glossy dial of the models before 64/65. The model showed in the photos, originating from 1966, features the rounder crown guards, thicker case, newer movement and matte dial with white printed chapter ring and text.
The hour markers are in tritium and age over time, which causes the color to change from white to beige or sometimes even brownish. Collectors appreciate it when the hours markers are nice and equally discolored to beige tones, and prices rise accordingly.
Also new around that period is the inprint on dial: “Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified”.
Several features have been consistent during the GMT-Master ref. 1675’s lifetime, like the acrylic crystal that is also nicknamed plexi glass. The reference 1675 is water proof to 50 meters / 165 feet. It came either on a steel oyster bracelet reference 78360 or a jubilee bracelet ref. 62510.
The bi-directional bezel has had a red and a blue half ever since the first ref. 1675, and even the ref. 6452 before that. In 1970 Rolex introduced a black bezel with the distinctive 24-hour numerals. The hands are in the following order: GMT/Hour/Minute/Second hand.
Besides the steel version, there are two other variants. The full gold ref. 1675/8 that came on a leather strap or bracelet, either an oyster bracelet ref. 7208/8 or a jubilébracelet 6311/8. THere was also a steel/gold (or two-tone) version, ref. 1675/3 that came on an oysterbracelet ref. 78363 or on a jubilee bracelet ref. 62523.
To end this photo-story, two more brilliant photos made by Duncan from Thirtyfivemill.com.