The Rolex GMT-Master needs no introduction. It is perhaps the most iconic travel watch, allowing its wearer to simultaneously tell two time zones. Developed originally in the 1950s for PanAm pilots, who had then begun flying transatlantic routes more frequently, this handy tool watch was vital in order to track home and local time.
As well all know, when it comes to vintage Rolex, it is always about the details as, throughout the ’60s and ’70s, there were many different dial and case variants, even within a single reference.
This particular specimen is an amazing example of an early GMT-Master. Featuring a glossy gilt dial, these early GMTs are much rarer than the later matte dial versions. The glossy dials are much more enigmatic and certainly signal a step up in your vintage Rolex game as they are much trickier to manoeuvre, higher in price and much rarer. This example has maintained a beautiful gloss finish that has not been restored and beautiful creamy lumes that match throughout. You can tell that it is original as the gilt printing sits underneath the black gloss dial- it’s hard to see, but with the right lighting and macro photography it becomes very obvious.
Morevoer, within the 1675 gilt range there were many variants, with this example being one of the more desirable versions. Featuring a closed chapter ring as supposed to the later open dials, this rarity is further complemented by the fact that is an exclamation point dial. If you look closer (which is always the case), you will see at 6 o’clock there is a dot of lume beneath it, resembling an exclamation mark. It is a mystery as to why Rolex only did this for a very short period in the early ’60s, but rumor has it that it was to signify the transition from radium to tritium as the luminescent material. Moving on to the case, we have what is known as a ‘pointed crown guard’ or PCG case, as these early sport Rolexes featured a peculiar pointed shape for the crown guards. Later on, Rolex transitioned to a more squared-off crown guard. Topping off the look, this watch is fitted with a period-correct, stunning fat font bezel Pepsi insert that has faded evenly and beautifully to create one of the most stunning examples of a GMT-Master.
All of these features are what makes collecting vintage Rolex so scary and rewarding at the same time, as each little detail tells a bit about both the history of the brand and the period that it was made.
To travel with a GMT-Master Ref.1675 on the wrist is certainly to travel in style, combining practicality with that mid-century cool. A genuine tool watch, I really do feel that the GMT function is the most practical complication to have on the wrist, even today. All it takes is one look at the wrist and you will be able to tell the time at your selected timezone. For someone like me, or I am sure many of you, who travels a lot or even conducts business on the other side of the world, a GMT-Master is without a doubt, a welcome tool. It certainly is faster than fumbling around with your iPhone to find out.