Watch Review

The Transitional Third: The GMT-Master ref. 16750

Paul Altieri

Then there were three

In our next chapter of our look at the GMT-Master collection—where we previously discussed the ref. 6542 and the ref. 1675—we now check out the ref. 16750.

In 1981 Rolex debuted the third GMT-Master, the ref. 16750. Considered a transitional reference, the GMT-Master 16750 was in production for less than a decade until about 1988. While it was very similar in style to its predecessor, the GMT-Master ref. 1675, the ref. 16750 did offer some technical improvements.

This Pepsi dial features a Blue and Red Bezel.
The GMT-Master ref. 16750 went under constant improvements.

The Rolex Caliber 3075

The then-new GMT-Master ref. 16750 was equipped with the Rolex Caliber 3075. This automatic mechanical movement—beating at 28,800 vibrations per hour—introduced the quickset feature to the famous Rolex pilot watch collection. The quickset date feature allows setting the date independent of the hour hand. Therefore, the wearer adjusts the date by simply turning the crown rather than continuously turning the center hands around the dial until you get to the right date. This is a particularly practical function that saves plenty of time and effort. The availability of the quickset changed the order of the center hands where the GMT-hand now came before the hour hand. The GMT-hand of course, along with the 24-hour marked rotating bezel, is what permits the GMT-Master to indicate two time zones simultaneously.

The GMT-Master ref. 16750 keeps accurate time.
The GMT-Master ref. 16750 had nearly 29,000 vibrations per minute.

Similar to the previous ref. 1675, the Caliber 3075 of the ref. 16750 also has the hacking feature whereby the seconds hand stops when the winding crown is pulled out. This translates to more precise time setting.

Yet another benefit of the GMT-Master ref. 16750 is its water resistance—330 feet (100 meters), which is double to that of previous GMT-Master models.

Dial Variations of the GMT-Master ref. 16750

During its eight years of production, the Rolex GMT-Master ref. 16750 had two distinct dial variations within its steel case. The first generation had matte black dials with hour markers without white gold surrounds, while the later ones had glossy black dials with indexes that included the white gold surrounds.

A vintage GMT-Master ref. 16750 with the matte dials are actually very difficult to come by since they were often replaced with glossy ones during servicing. And naturally, because the matte dials lacking the white gold surrounds are rarer, they are indeed more coveted among the two versions.

The black dial GMT-Master ref. 16750 is highly coveted.
There were a few variations. One of the many featured a black dial.

The two bezel choices of the stainless steel GMT-Master ref. 16750 were the iconic bi-color red and blue “Pepsi” bezel, in addition to the black bezel option.

Gold Variations of the GMT-Master ref. 16750

Just like the GMT-Master ref. 1675, Rolex also offered more luxurious models of the stainless steel ref. 16750. The GMT-Master ref. 16758 is the full yellow gold version, while the GMT-Master ref. 16753 is the two-tone Rolesor yellow gold and steel model.

An interesting dial variation of the yellow gold GMT-Master ref. 16758 is the Serti dial. Derived from the French word “sertir” meaning “to set” in jewelry, Serti dials in the world of vintage Rolex collecting refer to distinct gem dials found on some Submariner and GMT-Master models. These dials have diamond hour markers accompanied by either ruby or sapphire indexes at 6, 9, and 12 o’clock and make for very lavish versions of the GMT-Master.

Rolex GMT-Master ref. 16758 has a Serti Dial meaning that there are jewels at the hour markers. This one features rubies and diamonds.
Rolex GMT-Master ref. 16758 has a Serti Dial meaning that there are jewels at the hour markers. This one features rubies and diamonds.

A great reference from the GMT-Master line, the ref. 16750 offers Rolex collectors the style of a vintage GMT-Master with the practically of a more modern feature like the quickset function. What do you think? Would you add the GMT-Master ref. 16750 to your personal collection? Leave us a comment below and tell us why or why not.

Also, stay tuned for our next installment where we delve into the first GMT-Master II model, the ref. 16760, the GMT Master has rich history and should be read if you’re a collector.

Paul Altieri

Paul is the company's Founder and CEO. He is responsible for all the day to day activities from purchasing, receiving, marketing and sales. Paul is a graduate of Boston College 1979 and resides in California with his family.

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