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Rolex GMT-Master Best Of & History

Reviewing some of our favorite Rolex GMT Master references.

June 12, 2020

Today, Anna dives into some of her favorite Rolex GMT Master references!

The Rolex GMT was born out of a relationship between Rolex and Pan American Airlines in the 1950s, where airline pilots were looking for a watch that could track the time in more than one time zone. To suit that need, Rolex built a watch that featured a 24 hour bezel that was rotatable in both directions, along with a fourth, red hand on the dial to track GMT (of Greenwich Mean Time).

The first reference we’re going to discuss is the Ref. 6542, this in yellow gold in the so-called “Root Beet” configuration, with a brown bezel and dial, and golden hands/indices. What makes this watch so fascinating is the fact that the watch, in this configuration, wasn’t some limited run or special edition, but rather a part of the main line for GMT Masters. Its bezel was made of Bakelite, a precursor to plastic, and was only featured on 6542s before the switch to aluminum bezel inserts followed.

Next, we have the vintage GMT Master icon, the Ref. 1675. Produced from 1959 to 1980, this is by far one of the longest running references in the Rolex line, and it has seen an impressive range of variations over the years. Whether it’s the original gilt dials that catch your attention, or the later matte dial variants, the options within the singular reference are pretty limitless. Here, though, we want to focus on the reference nicknamed the “Pink Panther,” because of its fuchsia half of the previously red and blue bezel insert.

From there, the references evolved, from 16750s to 16760 Coke Bezels to the white gold, ceramic bezel Pepsi 116719, and have featured seemingly everything in between. And yet, as time has gone on, the watch has lost a bit of its charm. Chromelite lume doesn’t fade into a custard patina, Cerchrom bezels stay the same color for life, and the beefy steel cases lose a bit of their elegance. To look at the 6542 side by side with a modern Pepsi in steel, you’d be hard pressed to call them different evolutions of the same watch, and yet they are.

In The Shop

Watches: Rolex Submariner

Leather: Alligator Strap

Watches: IWC Big Pilot

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