Rolex watches are known for serving deep-sea divers, mountain climbers, and motorsports racers. And in 1954, the company created a piece (launched in ’55) for international pilots. At the request of Pan Am Airways, the Rolex GMT-Master was introduced to provide flight crews, and later business travelers, with a dual time watch that displayed Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) with a 24-hour display-fourth hand that showed a second time zone.
A Vintage Rolex GMT To Love
GMT is used for all aviation planning, weather forecasts and schedules — and in the ’50s, Inertial Navigation and Global Positioning System technologies had yet to be invented — thus, when aircraft were out of range during transoceanic flights, an accurate GMT time source was vital to obtain geographical positions by relative angles of the horizon, the sun and other stars. The second time zone on the watch also helped crew manage jet lag and other transatlantic communications.
The Rolex GMT-Master ref. 1675, produced from 1959-1980, features what is known as a Pepsi bezel. On the vintage Rolex GMT-Master 1675, this bezel is made of anodized aluminum, rotates bi-directionally, and was originally red and blue (hence the “Pepsi” nicknname”), which can fade to a variety of different colors that you can see now on surviving examples. The Rolex reference 1675 was also offered with an all-black bezel. Tom Selleck’s Thomas Magnum character of “Magnum P.I.” wore a Pepsi GMT during the popular series. These special bezels are the single most identifiable designs from the Rolex GMT-Master, along with the fourth hand.
Rolex GMT-Master 1675 Tropical Dial Features
In addition, this Rolex GMT-Master includes a dial that is faded to what collectors call a tropical dial. The dial reads: Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified. Its predecessor, reference 6542, did not have the COSC distinction printed on the dial. Rolex introduced that feature alongside ref. 1675. These vintage Rolex GMT-Master Reference 1675 watches are a bit smaller than later models and are noticeably thinner. This reference does not feature an independently adjustable hour hand; owners must use the bezel to read a second time zone, while the extra hour is a 24-hour indicator. However, Rolex eventually updated the hour hand to operate independently of the other hands on the GMT-Master II ref. 16760 in the early 1980s, essentially allowing the wearer to read up to three time zones at once. The vintage reference 1675 also features Tritium luminescent material, which remained the standard on all Rolex GMTs before Luminova replaced it in the late 1990s.
Other Features on this piece include a self-winding Rolex Caliber 1575 automatic movement with date, acrylic crystal outfitted with a Cyclops magnifier, waterproof screw down crown, and rotating bi-directional GMT bezel with a 24-hour scale. The 40mm case is made from stainless steel and fitted with a naturally faded fat font bezel insert that originally started its life as blue and red, along with a set of crown guards – a trait first introduced to the GMT-Master collection with the arrival of the ref. 1675. Just like how the bezel faded over the years, the tropical dial originally started its life as black and faded over the years to the rich brown color you see today. Completed by a set of Rolex’s signature Mercedes hands, these vintage Rolex tropical dials are rare and highly prized collector’s items that are often worth a significant premium due to their unique one-of-a-kind appearance.
Rolex 1675 Variations
Rolex produced the GMT-Master reference 1675 for more than two decades, during which many variations hit the market. There were a couple different of movements, including both the caliber 1565 and updated caliber 1575, which introduced the series to the hacking seconds feature in the early 1970s. The reference 1675 was also produced on either the three-link Oyster or five-link Jubilee bracelet and with either pointed or square crown guards.
The Rolex GMT-Master reference 1675 also features either a glossy or matte dial, depending on the year the watch was produced. There are even all gold and two-tone variants of this 4-digit GMT reference, which were produced under references 1675/8 (gold) and 1675/3 (steel and gold) with the iconic Root Beer Bezel and retro “nipple dial” hour markers. If you appreciate the aesthetic of the vintage GMT-Master 1675, there is undoubtedly a variation on the secondary market to suit your wrist and your budget.
Vintage GMT-Master 1675 Price
The Rolex GMT Master ref. 1675 is an attractive option for collectors of all levels, with prices starting as low as around $15k and commanding well over $30k based on the design set and condition of the watch. Additionally, when examples feature rare components such as tropical dials and faded bezel inserts, then the value of those watches can significantly exceed the normal price range of vintage Rolex GMT-Master 1675 watches.
Tropical dial Rolex watches are particularly sought-after for the unique way the dial fades over time, and this can make them significantly more expensive than an otherwise identical vintage GMT-Master 1675 that does not have a rare tropical dial. If you’re in the market for your first vintage Rolex, the GMT-Master ref. 1675 is an excellent option to consider.