The Rolex GMT-Master is one of the most iconic and popular watch models in Rolex’s lineup, but also in the whole world.
Originally, it was a watch which was developed to help pilots keep track of multiple time-zones simultaneously – as a helpful tool which truly made a difference for professionals, but over time, as more advanced digital tools has come around, the GMT-Master has more and more become a commodity watch that anyone can wear for any occasion, and appreciate for its long heritage, its appealing history, and of course advanced mechanics.
With the first GMT-Master being released in 1959, the GMT-Master is unarguably a truly timeless timepiece, and its popularity is today greater than ever. Rolex is a brand that is all about subtle innovations rather than drastic changes, and over the course of its many decades-long production time, Rolex has introduced a number of different GMT-Master references, which all have been refinements, improvements, and iterations, featuring smaller or larger changes from its predecessors, in order to ultimately produce a better, higher-quality, more accurate, and more robust timepiece.
In this article, we’re digging deep into a specific GMT-Master reference. We’re looking at the Rolex GMT-Master 1675.
Background to the Rolex GMT-Master 1675
Now, we’ve spoken many times about the history of the Rolex GMT-Master model, but for context, let’s start from the beginning with the first Rolex GMT-Master watch.
The first GMT-Master watch was developed upon the request of Pan Am pilots, who needed an instrument to keep track of two time-zones simultaneously, as flights started to get longer thus flying to a different time-zone. The Pan Am pilots, therefore, needed a watch with which they would be able to know the time at home, as well as the place at which they landed at.
Rolex agreed and developed the first GMT-Master watch reference 6542 in 1954. The watch featured a bakelite bezel (a type of plastic), but because this shattered and broke quite easily so Rolex quickly replaced it with an aluminum bezel. Interestingly enough, the aluminum bezel was used for a very long time, including the whole production of the GMT-Master 1675, all the way to the GMT reference 16710, when the aluminum bezel then got replaced by a cerachrom ceramic bezel.
The watch that Rolex developed featured a GMT hand, separated from the other hands -both in terms of style and color. This hand shows the home time in the twenty-four–hour clock. The bezel which is bidirectional is adjustable which allows the wearer to quickly tell the local time.
The Rolex GMT-Master 1675 which we’ll focus on today was manufactured from 1959 and 1980. The model was ”GMT-Master”, and it would take until the reference 16710 that the name would change to ”GMT-Master II” as Rolex would introduce an important technical advancement which would allow the wearer to set the GMT hand independently and thus keep track of yet another time zone, as well as be able to change the date through a quick-set function.
The GMT-Master 1675 is an extremely important watch in Rolex’s GMT-Master history. Being in production for a period of twenty-one years, it is the GMT watch that has been in production the longer period of time till date.
The long production period also goes to show that Rolex was very satisfied with what they had accomplished and that they didn’t have anything significant they could improve on the watch – even though the watch underwent a number of (relatively) minor changes over the course of its production, which I’ll go more into detail on further on.
Rolex GMT-Master 1675 case
The case of the GMT-Master 1675 is 38mm in diameter without the crown and crown guard. This is extremely small when compared to today’s GMT-Master II ’s sizes, but a size that was in line with the watch size ideals at the time.
In terms of thickness, the watch is a mere 11mm. This is quite interesting since today’s GMT watch is 12.1mm thick.
The GMT-Master 1675 features crown guards, and it is the first GMT watch to do so. The predecessors didn’t feature crown guards at all.
In terms of the design of the crown guards, this changed over time. The early models had pointed crown guards, and later models had flat crown guards.
The pointed crown guards were introduced 1964 and 1965.
In true vintage watch spirit, the case has drilled lugs, which is something that Rolex’s used until around the year 2000. The drilled lugs make it extremely effortless to change straps because the sprints are so easily accessible.
In terms of water-resistance, the GMT-Master 1675 isn’t a dive watch, and as such, you cannot expect too much. Today’s modern Rolex GMT-Master IIs have a 100-meter water resistance, but the 1675 only has a 50m/165ft water-resistance. But again, having in mind what the watches were developed for, pilots didn’t really need a great water-resistance when they were in an airplane thousands of meters up in the sky.
From start to finish, the watch was equipped with an acrylic crystal. Now, in terms of scratch-resistance, an acrylic crystal is terrible, but at the time, sapphire crystals for watches were not yet invented, and therefore, acrylic crystals were used for essentially all watches that were produced at the time – just like most watches feature sapphire crystals today.
Rolex GMT-Master 1675 movement
Now, what about the movement of the Rolex GMT-Master 1675?
Well, the reference actually used two different movements. As such, it is possible to have a 1675 with either a Caliber 1565 for the earlier models and a Caliber 1575 for later models.
The Rolex caliber 1565 was in production from 1959 until 1964. This movement had 25 jewels, a power reserve of 44 hours, and a frequency of 18000 A/h. In true GMT fashion, this movement also featured a date function apart from the additional GMT hand. It also had a sweep second hand.
In 1956, however, Rolex changed from the previous 1565 caliber to a newer updated movement – the caliber 1575. This movement would come to be the movement used for the 1675 until the end of its production in 1980. This was when the reference 1675 got discontinued and replaced by the new reference 16750.
The new movement was quite similar to the previous movement, but in true Rolex fashion, it was more refined and improved to perform slightly better. The movement had 25 jewels and took the 44 hours to 48 hours. It also featured a higher frequency of 19800 a/h.
It was a sweep secondhand movement, it featured a date, as well as the GMT hand. Also, from 1971, it featured a hack feature. This was perhaps the most noticeable update to the movement since it allowed the wearer to adjust the time much more accurately. What this does is make the seconds hand stop when the crown is pulled out to the 2nd position.
The bezel of the Rolex GMT-Master 1675
The bezel of the Rolex GMT-Master is probably the most distinct feature of the model. At least with the colorful bezel alternatives.
The Rolex GMT-Master 1675 was available with several different bezel alternatives which tend to change the look of the watch quite significantly. This model featured aluminum bezels through the whole of its production. In fact, the aluminum bezel is a feature and element which has been used for a long time in Rolex’s production – from replacing the easily breakable bakelite bezel on the GMT 6542 to being discontinued and replaced by the new generation ceramic bezels.
The aluminum bezels are great on Rolex watches. They’re easy to paint and make, and they’re durable and don’t shatter. The downside, however, is that they fade over time, and also tend to accumulate a lot of scratches and dings to them. But if you look at today’s vintage market, people are obsessed with aged aluminum bezels which have faded, and there is absolutely a charm to a faded insert.
The GMT-Master 1675 was released with a red and blue bi-directional steel bezel, and in the early 1970s, the model was introduced with an all-black bezel.
The bezel featured 24-hour markings in order to help the wearer keep track of multiple time zones simultaneously, and as for the two-colored bezels, the use of two colors is to help distinguish between night and day.
There are also GMT-Master 1675 models which featured an all-blue bezel, now known as the blueberry bezel, but these are very rare. The reason that they are rare is that watches with this full-blue bezel were specifically made and sent to the military. UAE ordered many Blueberry watches from Rolex, for example.
As such, the production of these blue bezels was very limited compared to the other bezels, and therefore, coming by one in good condition today is extremely difficult. And if you do, you’re going to have to pay a lot.
The dial of the Rolex GMT-Master 1675
The bezel of a watch is important for its looks, but the dial is also an important element. As for the Rolex GMT-Master 1675, Rolex changed the dial many times during its production, as Rolex did with most other watches mid-production when they saw an update suitable.
On the dial, you’ll find the Rolex logo, the model name, and the text “oyster perpetual” under the 12 o’clock. These are all standard elements of a modern Rolex watch as well.
Furthermore, you’ll also find the text “superlative chronometer officially certified” to prove that the watch is COSC certified.
The model was manufactured with either matte or glossy dial during its production, and on the gloss/gilt dials, you’ll find gold text, while on the matte dials, you’ll find a white text. Rolex used gilt dials in their early sports watch executions. The early examples of the gilt dials feature a chapter ring and were then made without the chapter ring towards the end of their production.
Rolex didn’t use Arabic numerals for this model, but only large indexes with luminous material. The indices are circles, while the 9 and 6 have a rectangular shape. At 12 o’clock, there’s a triangle upside down. In other words, the indexes are very similar to the layout of the modern Rolex sports watches.
It’s safe to say that during the roughly 20-year-long course of production of the Rolex GMT-Master 1675, there are countless dial variants of this model. These slight dial variations are something that fascinates collectors, and these small differences can also have a huge effect on a watch’s desirability and price.
Elements that can change on the dials are things such as font, shape, logo size, index lengths, etc.
Until the late 1960s, the model used a small GMT hand, but from thereon, you can see that Rolex started using large GMT hands, with a large triangle. The hands of the GMT-Master 1675 are in the following order: GMT/Hour/Minute/Second.
The hour hands used on the 1675 are the so-called “Mercedes” hands which have become an iconic feature of Rolex’s sports watches. It also features “lollipop” hands for its seconds hand. The larger GMT hand allowed for better legibility.
When it comes to the luminous material, Rolex used Tritium for the 1675. The model also featured a chapter ring dial.
Speaking of dials, it can be interesting to add that Rolex used several different data wheels on their GMT-Master 1675. The most notable difference between these is that some feature open 6s and 9s, while other date wheels have closed such. This may be seen as a small thing, but the price increase you’ll have to pay only because of the fact that it has open 6s and 9s is incredible. Additionally, early versions of the watch featured a golden crown on the dial, whereas late versions have an imprinted crown.
Rolex started using radial dials in the middle of its production. The radial dial has smaller hour markers. These dials are today quite rare.
Rolex GMT-Master 1675 bracelet
The bracelet is an important element of the Rolex GMT-Master 1675 because it has a huge impact on the watch’s looks.
In true sports Rolex fashion, it came on the sporty Oyster bracelet, like many Rolex watches today and back then.
The reference of the Oyster bracelet used is either 78360 with 580 end links, 7836 with 280 end links or 7206 with 58 end links. Then, of course, we have another bracelet which the 1675 was available with, and this is the jubilee bracelet. This bracelet had the reference 62510.
What’s interesting is that the 1675 was mainly advertised with the Oyster bracelet, and this probably has something to do with its popularity, but also because Rolex wanted to show that the watch was a true sports watch. The Jubilee, on the other hand, is a more classy and elegant variant.
Maybe the most interesting part is the fact that at Basel watch fair 2018, Rolex released the Rolex GMT-Master II 126710BLRO. This is relevant because for the people who know Rolex history – and also for you who have read this article, will recognize traits and design features of the 126710BLRO from the 1675.
First off, the 126710BLRO comes on a jubilee bracelet. It is the first sports watch in modern times which comes on a jubilee bracelet as opposed to a sporty Oyster bracelet. And trust me, this is no coincidence, because the 1675 was also the first Rolex sports watch available on a jubilee bracelet. Furthermore, the 126710BLRO has a blue and red ”Pepsi” bezel – a bezel color combination used on the 1675.
In that sense, the 126710BLRO is clearly a heritage and vintage-inspired watch which has taken inspiration from the GMT-Master 1675.