Rolex GMT Master

Rolex GMT Master

Between the traditional and the modern, there’s the transitional. As far as watches are concerned, “transitional” references bridge the gap between the old guard references and the new. When speaking of models like the GMT Master, for instance, a transitional reference is, of course, the Reference 16750.

Rolex debuted the GMT Master in the 1950s, following the success of the Submariner. This first reference, 6542, shared much of its aesthetics with the Turn-O-Graph (Reference 6202). However, the distinctive blue-and-read Bakelite bezel, along with the bright red GMT hand, gave it the ability to show two timezones at once.

Ideal for pilots, the GMT Master—developed in concert with pilots of Pan American Airlines—became the watch for the Jet Set.

The Reference 1675, following on the heels of the Reference 6452, is—for many collectors—the ultimate example of GMT. This is due in part to its formidable production run: 1959 to 1980. The addition of crown guards changed the silhouette of the model forever, resulting in a distinctive look that collectors have come to associate with the model.

However, with the advent of the Quartz Revolution, the Swiss watch industry found itself faced with the need to adapt if it wanted to withstand the pressure from the East. While some Swiss brands attempted to break into this new market—many by discontinuing production of mechanical watches altogether—Rolex resisted. Instead, the Crown’s strategy at this time was to offer something more distinguished than the new Japanese imports: luxury items.

The existing lines were revamped, given technical upgrades that made them easier for the new targeted audience: businessmen. In the case of the GMT Master, the new Reference—the 16750, introduced in 1981—was given a movement with a higher beat rate and a quick-set date function. Moreover, upgraded gaskets gave the watch an improved depth rating of 100m, so that the businessman could plunge into a swimming pool after a long flight and only have to change his suit.

But the exterior of the watch remained, by and large, the same. The 16750 retained the same “Pepsi” configuration that had become indicative of the model. Early examples still had the matte dial with painted-on markers that collectors so love about the 1675.

It wasn't until the end of the reference’s run that the 16750 was given a makeover befitting its luxury status, with glossy dial with white gold indices, paving the way for the GMT Master II (Reference 16760) that would be introduced in 1983. 

With a serial dating this particular 16750 to 1981, it is one of rarer examples with a matte dial and painted-on indices.

While transitional references like the 16750 are regarded as outliers by collectors, the market is starting to shift in their favor, as a collectible (but affordable) example of 1675 is getting increasingly hard to find. 

The sharp good looks of this 16750 make it one that we'd be happy to own, and we're sure you will be too. 


SKU: AS02474

Stainless steel Oyster case is approximately 39mm (excluding crown). Reference 16750. Circa 1981.

Overall Condition: Case is in very good condition overall with strong bevels, and shows signs of moderate use and wear. Bezel is in very good condition with crisp printing. Dial is in very good condition overall with patina to the luminescent elements of the hour plots. Hands have been professionally matched. Rolex crown.

Includes one 20mm tan leather strap.

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