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We admittedly have a thing for two-tone Rolex GMT Masters here at analog/shift. While the "root beer" GMTs have cropped up now and again on our site, there's something to be said for one with a black dial and a black bezel. The way that the color and texture of the dial contrasts with the yellow gold is particularly pleasing to the eye, placing it somewhere in between sporty and dressy in a way that Rolex does so well.
Almost from its inception, the Rolex GMT Master became a runaway--or shall we say, flyaway--hit. With the advent of the first transcontinental flight in 1953, the pilots of Pan American Airlines required a watch that could tell two timezones simultaneously. They approached Rolex, and in short order the Rolex GMT (as in Greenwich Mean Time) Master was born, its name a bold declaration of what Rolex intended the watch to be: a master of two timezones.
That first reference of GMT Master, the ref. 6542, was essentially a heavily-modified Turn-O-Graph with the cal. 1035 movement upgraded to include a 24-hour driving wheel and a 24-hour-hand. The case was modified to include a rotating 24 hour Bakelite bezel in a distinctive blue and red, but lacked the crown guards that would adorn all subsequent references of GMT Master. But the ref. 6542 was only released from 1954 and 1960, to be replaced by the standard of vintage Rolex GMTs, the Ref. 1675.
The ref. 1675 is when the GMT Master took on the appearance that it would carry for the rest of its run. Here now are the crown guards, and the 24-hour bezel is painted, rather than the easily-chipped Bakelite. Another new modification is the inclusion of the words "Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified" on the dial, indicating the high accuracy of the new movement, the cal. 1565.
In addition to its association with Pan Am, the Rolex GMT Ref. 1675 also has another surprising connection: to NASA. While a Rolex was never flight-tested by NASA for manned space missions, unlike the much-vaunted Omega Speedmaster, Rolexes did in fact make it to space on the wrists of astronauts. Jack Swigert, from the crew of the Apollo 13 mission, credited his Rolex GMT Master--and not his Omega Speedmaster--for allowing him to make life-saving calculations that allowed the astronauts to fly back to Earth after their spacecraft's oxygen tanks ruptured.
The successor to the ref. 1675, the 16750, featured a quick set date and a new movement: the cal. 3075. Some variants of the 16750 also featured glossy black dials with white gold indices, a similar modification to the Submariner ref. 16800. Another variant of the ref. 16750, the ref. 16753 that we have here, is distinguished by its two-tone steel and yellow gold bracelet, gilt accents on the bezel, handset and crown.
Which brings us to the idea of a two-toned sports watch. Gold on a sports or tool watch defeats the purpose of what the watch is meant to be: dependable, meant to be worn anywhere, in any environment. But we think the touches of gold on the ref. 16753 elevate it to a sphere of casual luxury that won't make it look out-of-place when worn with a suit. Sophisticated yet sporty, the ref. 16753 is the perfect compromise between casual and formal, at home on the bracelet or on a nylon strap--with gold hardware, naturally.
Two-tone stainless steel and 18k yellow gold case is approximately 39mm (excluding crown). Rolex Reference 16753. Calibre 3075 Automatic GMT Movement. Circa 1984.
Overall condition: Stainless Steel case is in very good condition over all, with no major blemishes and only light signs of wear and use in keeping with its age. Dial is in excellent condition with a light even patina and no major signs of discoloration or scratches. Luminescent material on the hour plots and hands show signs of light flaking but are otherwise intact. Signed crown; unsigned case back.
Includes 20mm Ref. 62523H.18 jubilee bracelet with 450 end links and one 20mm nylon strap with gold-tone hardware from Crown & Buckle.