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Vintage of the Week: Rolex GMT-Master 1675 Tropical Dial

January 14, 2014

BY Paul Altieri


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 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.

Vintage gmt rolex tropical tree

Vintage Rolex GMT Master known for its capability to keep track of two time zones.

A Vintage 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 jetlag and other transatlantic communications.

gmt master 1675 rolex tropical dial

A GMT Master 1675 helped pilots keep track of time and even help them readjust to their original time zone.

This particular 1961 GMT-Master, Ref. No. 1675, produced from 1959-1980, hosts what is known as a Pepsi bezel. This bezel is made of anodized aluminum, rotates bi-directionally at 120 clicks and was originally red and blue (Pepsi colors), which faded to the colors you see now. The 1675 was also offered with an all-black bezel. In later years, a red and black one, which is known as Pepsi’s counterpart, the Coke bezel was produced. (Tom Selleck’s Thomas Magnum character of “Magnum P.I.” wore a Coke GMT during the series.) These special bezels are the single most identifiable designs from the Rolex GMT-Master, along with the fourth hand.

rolex gmt vintage tropical wrist

A Rolex GMT Master allows the user to read the time easily.

The Dial

In addition, this Rolex GMT-Master includes a dial that is faded to what collectors call a gilt tropical dial, as well as an extensible rivet oyster bracelet. The dial reads: Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified. These vintage Rolex GMT-Master Reference 1675 watches are a bit smaller than later models and are noticeably thinner. This reference is void of an independent moving hour hand; owners must use the bezel to read a second time zone, while the extra hour is a 24-hour indicator.

This Rolex GMT is a vintage timepiece.

This Rolex GMT Master has a light tropical dial.

Features on this piece include a 1560 butterfly automatic movement with date, acrylic crystal, waterproof screw down crown and rotating bi-directional timing bezel. The case is stainless steel with naturally faded fat font, blue/red bezel insert (40mm), and pointed crown guards. Finally, the tropical dial is, of course, original.



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