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With the advent of the first transcontinental flight in 1953, the pilots of Pan American Airways required a watch that could tell two timezones simultaneously. As the story goes, they approached Rolex, and in short order the Rolex GMT (as in Greenwich Mean Time) Master was born. The name is a bold declaration of what Rolex intended the watch to be: a true master of the skies.
That first reference of GMT-Master, the Reference 6542, was essentially a heavily-modified Turn-O-Graph with the Caliber 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 Reference 6542 was only produced from 1954 to 1960, and was the replaced with what was to become the gold standard of vintage Rolex GMTs--and perhaps one of the world's most iconic sport watches--the Reference 1675.
Production of the Reference 1675 ran from 1959 to 1980, without a doubt one of Rolex's longest-running references. The earliest iterations of the Reference 1675 were the first to feature crown guards--specifically pointed crown guards until the 1960s. Earlier Reference 1675s had a glossy dial before being replaced in the 1960s with a matte dial, seen here. Another change on the dial represented the addition of a chronometer-grade movement, the Caliber 1565, and the Caliber 1575 with an added hacking feature in the late 1960s. All of these features combine to make a true icon of the watch world, instantly recognizable and eternally stylish.
In addition to the GMT's association with Pan Am, the model 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--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. Another visited the moon in the pocket of Ron Evans' space suit.
The GMT-Master is deeply rooted in aviation history and is quite simply one of those watches that has a place in every watch collection, big or small, and collectors are constantly on the hunt for the perfect example. Owning a handful of these ourselves, we can say without question that a good GMT is a companion not easily matched by any other watch--representing vintage Rolex at its best!
Stainless steel case is approximately 40mm (excluding crown). Rolex Reference 1675. Rolex Caliber 1575GMT Self-Winding Movement. Circa 1977.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is in very good condition with sharp bevels and no signs of over-polishing. Case does have minimal signs of use and wear in keeping with its age, including some very slight scratches on the sides of the case and on the lugs. Rotating Pepsi bezel is in excellent condition with crisp printing. Matte black dial is excellent condition with crisp printing and no signs of discoloration or hand drag. Luminescent elements of the hour markers and hands have gained a fine even patina over time. Rolex crown; Rolex case back is in very good condition with minimal signs of wear.
Includes one 20mm Rolex 78790/501B bracelet. Bracelet is in good condition with minimal "desk diving" scuffs on the clasp. Also includes two 20mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle