Here at Bob’s Watches we’ve never made any secret about our all-consuming love affair with the Rolex GMT-Master series. So when a beautiful vintage ref. 1675 comes through our doors, we’re going to shout about it.
The subject for this week’s Bob’s Spotlight is just such a watch. If you were to make a list of everything a vintage Rolex collector looks for in the perfect early GMT-Master, this one checks every single box.
The first thing you’ll notice is the ghost bezel.
The Rolex GMT-Master 1675
The 1675 had a long run, starting life in 1959 and finally being granted a well-earned retirement 21 years later in 1980. It was the second generation of the GMT-Master family, having replaced the initial ref. 6542, made famous in that greatest of all Bond movies, Goldfinger. Worn on the wrist of the super spy’s easily swayed female antagonist, the very first model will forever be known as the Pussy Galore (stop snickering at the back!).
It was the model that introduced crown guards to the series and also replaced the original’s fragile Bakelite bezel with an all new aluminum insert—two testaments to Rolex’s dedication in making their aviator’s watch sturdy enough to wear as a stylish daily beater.
The story of the GMT’s origin is well known; made in conjunction with Pan Am, it was designed with its distinctive two-tone bezel and additional 24-hour hand to help the airline’s pilots cope with changing time zones as they flew the new, longer transatlantic routes.
True to form with Rolex’s standard bearers, the 1675 was given several subtle but very definite changes throughout its lifetime. Understated alterations to dials, hands and case details are all well documented and make dating a particular model relatively easy if you know what to look for. The earliest examples are always the most sought after by collectors, which brings us neatly to the incredible piece currently available here at Bob’s Watches.
The Rolex GMT-Master 1675 still holds true to its ability to give the user its 24-hour time measurement.
Our One-of-a-Kind ref. 1675
The joy in vintage watch collecting is in finding a piece with real character. For Rolexes, designed above everything else to be functional tools and the wearer’s constant companion, that personality is written in the aging of the watch’s coloring, the scratches on the case and the blemishes on the dial. It’s in the imperfections that it tells its tale.
On our GMT-Master 1675, its story is written large in the heavy fading of its Pepsi bezel. The bold blue and red of the surround has leached over its 54-year lifespan, until today it has been left with just a hint of the original color. It was a common occurrence with the metal inserts, and one of the reasons Rolex spent so much time and money perfecting the fade-resistant ceramic bezels found on most of their contemporary sports range. It means modern GMTs will always look the same, no matter what age they grow to or how interesting a history they have.
In some ways, keeping a watch looking as good as new is a positive thing, but for those who see them as more than mere timepieces, the visual indications of a life well spent will always be coveted as signs of its individuality. You won’t find anyone else with a watch that looks exactly like this.
It is rare for a watch like this Rolex GMT-Master 1675 to fade to this degree.
All the Vital Elements
However, it’s not simply the age-faded bezel that makes this such a special example of one of Rolex’s finest. Made in 1963, it is also complete with the minutiae that cause brand purists to go all misty-eyed; what can be described as a Mark 1 model, before any of the pertinent little details were swapped or updated.
For instance, the pointed crown guards, given the nickname El Cornino from the Italian for ‘horns’, were superseded two years later by more rounded replacements. That short production run gives this watch an enviable scarcity value, made even better by the relatively light wear the guards have received. Many examples of GMTs of this era have suffered from over polishing, eroding their distinctive shape.
The dial too marks this as one of the first iterations of the series. In the beginning, Rolex used glossy dials across all of their sports collection before making the switch to matte. The gilt face on our example features the chapter ring specific to the earliest models, as well as the once gold lettering and hour markers turning the distinguishing cream color of all vintage Rolexes.
And perhaps most welcome, a detail that really cements this as one of the first run pieces, the tiny arrowhead on the red GMT hand is just as it should be. As the gilt dials were phased out later in the production cycle, the 24-hour hand was also replaced with a larger one to help legibility.
Inside, the Cal. 1565 was only in use between 1959 and 1964, based on the architecture of the first series of movements Rolex produced entirely in-house. The 18,000bph automatic caliber had a power reserve of 42 hours and featured the same cam and jewel system still used today to create the instantaneous date change at midnight. It was such a successful mechanism that its replacement, the 1575, which differed only in the introduction of a hacking feature and an upped balance speed of 19,800bph, powered all subsequent GMT-Masters through to 1980.
Would you wear the Rolex GMT-Master 1675?
To Sum Up…
The ref. 1675 was one of Rolex’s biggest hitters, a fantastically popular watch that enjoyed more than 20 years at the top. That long life means there is no shortage of examples out there to tempt both the aspiring and the seasoned collector.
Tracking down a vintage GMT-Master in great condition isn’t difficult. But getting the chance to buy a 1675 like this, with all the essentials perfectly intact and that unique bezel setting it apart as a one of a kind, is a rare opportunity not to be missed.