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Vintage of the Week: Rolex GMT-Master 16753

Shop Vintage Rolex GMT-Master 16753
Paul Altieri

The Rolex GMT-Master ref. 16753, with its warmer tones and unique design set, is one of the most distinctive editions of the famous pilot’s watch. While most Rolex GMT-Master watches feature bezels in black, blue, and red tones, ref. 16753 opts for shades of brown and cream. Of course, there’s also the option for traditional hour markers filled with lume on other GMT-Master watches, but our vintage of the week features faceted nipple hour markers in yellow gold instead – another departure from the typical GMT-Master design code. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at what makes this vintage of the week GMT-Master 16753 so fascinating.

Vintage Rolex GMT-Master 16753 Root Beer Jubilee Bracelet

Rolex 16753 History

While many dual-time watches have hit the market since the GMT-Master’s debut in the 1950s, the GMT-Master is one of the most iconic and recognizable. It is, arguably, the criteria for which all other GMT watches are measured. The first model, ref. 6542, was only produced for a few years before ref. 1675 replaced it in the late 1950s. It featured a red and blue aluminum insert to distinguish between day and night hours and a 24-hour scale. The wearer can track two time zones simultaneously by reading the arrow hand against the bezel.

While we might take this feature for granted today, it was an innovation of its time when transatlantic flight was still in its infancy. Also known as the “Pepsi” bezel, the red and blue colorway is a mainstay of the GMT-Master collection and is among the most sought-after bezel variations. However, the unique Rolex Root Beer insert is also very collectible in its own right.

Vintage Rolex GMT-Master 16753 Jubilee Bracelet

Reference 1675 introduced the GMT-Master to crown guards and featured either a glossy or matte dial, depending on the year the watch was produced. Reference 1675 also featured an acrylic crystal, Tritium lume, and either an Oyster or Jubilee bracelet. Eventually, the 4-digit series gave way to ref. 16750 and its two-tone counterpart, ref. 16753, featuring a higher-beat movement and increased water resistance up to 100 meters/330 feet. With ref. 16753, the GMT-Master still sports an acrylic crystal, Tritium lume, and the option for a Jubilee or Oyster bracelet.

Rolex produced ref. 16753 until around the late 1980s when ref. 16700 took its place. Interestingly, the GMT-Master II with an upgraded independent 24-hour hand (ref. 16760) was introduced in 1983, overlapping production with the GMT-Master for several years. However, ref. 16753 remained the only two-tone option between the two models at the time.

Vintage Rolex GMT-Master 16753 Brown Nipple Dial

Rolex 16753 Features

The vintage Rolex GMT-Master 16753 is a special two-toned variant of the Rolex GMT-Master 16750. Ref 16753 offers a mix of stainless steel and yellow gold. However, the watch’s dial and bezel are what really draw the eye.

The dark brown dial, which is even more valuable if it is faded, is topped with gold nipple hour markers and Rolex’s signature Mercedes hands. Like other GMT-Master models, ref 16753 features a date window at the 3 o’clock mark and a magnifying Cyclops lens.

Vintage Rolex GMT-Master 16753 Root Beer

Bottoms Up To The GMT-Master 16753

The watch’s rotatable bezel also draws the eye, continuing the vintage two-toned look of the watch with stainless steel and yellow gold as well as a monochrome brown and cream aluminum insert. Because of its unique look, ref 16753 has been fondly nicknamed the “Root Beer Rolex” and the “eye of the tiger” due to its dial’s resemblance to the semi-precious stone with the same name, but the watch itself is very luxurious. 

The unusual Root beer bezel made another appearance within the Rolex catalog via the GMT-Master II ref. 16713. However, the current production GMT Root Beer (ref. 126711 in two-tone and 126715 in full gold) seems to stray from the famous Root Beer aesthetic because it now features a black and brown ceramic bezel instead of brown and cream and uses Rolex’s patented Everose instead of yellow gold.

As a 5-digit GMT-Master, ref. 16753 also features a standard 40mm case outfitted with crown guards and either a three-link Oyster bracelet or a five-link Jubilee bracelet with yellow gold center links and stainless steel outer links. 

Vintage Rolex GMT-Master 16753 Root Beer Bezel

The Clint Eastwood Rolex

Hollywood icon and luxury watch aficionado Clint Eastwood was known to wear the Root Beer Rolex GMT-Master ref. 16753 both on and off the big screen, also earning it the nickname “Clint Eastwood Rolex.”

His two-tone GMT-Master appeared on Eastwood’s wrist in 1982’s Firefox, 1984’s Tightrope, and 1993’s In The Line Of Fire. While Clint Eastwood has been in roughly 60 films, his Rolex is almost as famous as him in many watch-collecting circles, making the watch even more collectible.

Vintage Rolex GMT-Master 16753 Two-Tone

The Movement

While on the exterior, references 16753 and 16750 look different, on the inside, they are the same. Thanks to its Oyster case, the watch is waterproof, up to 100 m or 330 ft. The 5-digit series was the first generation of Rolex GMT watches to use a 3000 series movement – the caliber 3075. It replaced the caliber 1575 used in the 4-digit series featuring a higher frequency of 28,800 bph, up from 19,800 bph. 

The movement still features the hacking seconds function introduced alongside caliber 1575 but also includes a Quickset date, which allows the wearer to set the calendar complication while the crown is in the second position instead of winding the crown a full 24 hours.

Vintage Rolex GMT-Master 16753 Two-Tone Root Beer Jubilee Bracelet

Rolex 16753 Price

How much is the GMT-Master ref. 16753? The iconic steel and gold pilot’s watch trades hands for around $12k on the secondary market. That’s a reasonably competitive price for a steel and yellow gold watch, considering its all-steel counterpart, ref. 16750, currently resells for between $13k and $14k. However, that price disparity can be attributed mainly to the massive popularity of stainless steel Rolex sports watches. Still, two-tone watches are absolutely timeless and usually hold their value alongside the price of gold. A unique wristwatch with this much potential deserves a spot in any watch box.

The Root Beer is only one of many names. Additionally, with its collectible brown “nipple” dial and continuous two-toned look, it is an iconic vintage Rolex reference that would be a unique addition to any collection. When choosing a vintage watch to purchase, it can be fun and wise to invest in a piece that is not typical. The Rolex GMT-Master ref 16753 is far from normal, with its eye-catching two-toned look, making it the perfect collector’s piece.

Paul Altieri
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