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Vintage of the Week: GMT Master Ref. 16700

April 29, 2014

BY Paul Altieri


After the release of the Rolex GMT Master II, Rolex made a surprising move; they continued to produce and improve upon the original GMT Master with its own continued line. One of these variations is the GMT Master ref. 16700. Produced for a surprisingly long run from 1988 to 1999, the Rolex GMT Master ref. 16700 replaced ref. 16750, introduced about the same time as the new and innovative GMT Master II ref. 16710. The new GMT Master model was actually less expensive than its counterpart, the GMT Master II, but maintained some of its features.

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GMT Master 16700

To compare with the GMT Master II, as well as improve the overall GMT Master design, the new ref. 16700 utilized the updated caliber 3175, which functioned identically to the previous caliber 3075, the watch also offered hacking and quickset features. The GMT Master ref. 16700 was produced in much smaller quantities than the new GMT Master II. However, it offered a more affordable watch than the GMT Master II, yet still offered a durable and innovative watch, as Rolex customers would expect.

GMT Master 16700

Rolex Tiffany GMT Master

The caliber 3175 maintained the non-independent hour hand, setting the GMT Master ref. 16700 apart from ref. 16710. New to the GMT Master ref. 16700 was the addition of a sapphire crystal, utilizing new technology to create a virtually scratch resistant surface. The GMT Master ref. 16700 was contained in a new case, only available in stainless steel. The Date-wheel maintained vintage open numbers until around 1992. The bezel was initially only available in the popular blue and red “Pepsi” combination. However, some collectors have ref. 16700’s with a plain black bezel. Either these were later changed on the owner’s request, or a very small number were produced with black bezels.

GMT Master 16700

Movement Tiffany GMT 16700

The new model also contained a Tritum dial until 1997, and a Swiss Luminova dial beginning in 1998, both of which featured white gold indexes. Strength was built into ref. 16700 just as it was with other GMT Master models, feature pressure resistance up to 100 meters (330 feet) and an Oyster or Jubilé bracelet. Beginning in 1989, the GMT Master ref. 16700 featured Rolex’s patented Oysterlock technology. Designed to prevent accidental opening of the clasp and potential loss of the watch, Rolex’s Oysterlock technology added an extra level of strength and security.

GMT Master 16700

Crown Tiffany GMT 16700

Though it may have fallen in the GMT Master II’s shadow, the Rolex GMT Master ref. 16700 offers many of the same features, luxurious materials, and high quality and precision craftsmanship, but at a more affordable price. Despite its long run, the quantity of GMT Master ref. 16700s was produced in smaller numbers, making it an excellent and rarer collector’s piece.

GMT Master 16700

Tiffany GMT Master Stainless Steel

GMT Master 16700

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Bob's Watches is an independent watch dealer and is not sponsored by, associated with and/or affiliated with Rolex, or any other brand listed. Bob's Watches only sells pre-owned watches and provides its own warranties on the watches it sells. Rolex Datejust, Rolex Day Date President, Submariner, Presidential, Explorer, Sea Dweller, Super President, GMT Master, GMT, YachtMaster, Prince, Milgauss, MasterPiece, Air King, Cosmograph Daytona, and PearlMaster, etc are all registered trademarks of the Rolex Corporation. All brands including Brequet, Cartier, Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, Ulysse Nardin, Breitling and Omega, etc are trademarks of their respective owners.