As recognizable as it is timeless, the Rolex GMT Master 1675 is one of the most iconic timepieces in the watchmaker’s archive. It dates back to the early 1950s when Pan American Airlines was looking for a watch that could simultaneously read two time zones. Rolex provided them with a solution, the GMT Master.
The original Rolex Pan American announcement, (Courtesy of Rolex Passion Report)
The new watch, which originally premiered in 1954 (ref. 6542), featured a 24-hour display fourth hand complication directly linked to and displaying the same time zone as the 12-hour hand. Using the rotatable 24-hour scale bezel, set to the correct offset, pilots could use the GMT—standing for Greenwich Mean Time, now referred to as Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)—hand to read a second time zone. As GMT (UTC) is the required time zone for aviation planning, weather forecasts, schedules, and other paper work, the Rolex GMT Master quickly became popular amongst air force pilots as well as astronauts—Jack Swigert wore one during his Apollo 13 mission.
The 1954 version featured a Bakelite bezel prone to cracking, and the sub-par bezel was quickly scrapped in favor of aluminum. The updated bezel plus the addition of crown guards in 1959 gave birth to the much-celebrated ref. 1675. The first Rolex sports watch to be available with either an Oyster or Jubilee bracelet, the 1675 was in production from 1959 until 1980, making it one of the longest production watches in the company’s history.
The ability to choose between two distinct bands, as well the pointed crown guards, transform this particular GMT Master from a simple pilot's watch to a customizable, masculine masterpiece. The colors of the bezel, which initially corresponded with night (blue) and day (red), became an insignia of class. The stark contrast between blue and red became the mark of true gentlemen.
Robert Redford displays his Rolex with pride, (Courtesy of Horbiter)
While initially appealing mostly to pilots, the 1675, with its incredible durability and beautiful aesthetic flourishes, quickly gained widespread appeal and was a favorite among many historical figures. Che Guevera (pictured above) wore a GMT Master—though his had a black bezel--throughout the revolution, and Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson famously wore two simultaneously—one on Havana time, the other on Moscow.
Regardless on your opinion of Mr. Guvera, he knew how to live. A Cuban cigar and a Swiss watch, what more you could you want
(Courtesy of Rolex Blog)
While there are numerous versions and color ways of the GMT Master 1675, the “Pepsi” featuring a red and blue two-tone bezel is perhaps the most famous. Featuring the exceedingly rare pointed crown guards—also referred to as coronino—MAN of the World has procured a number of incredible, and difficult to find, special edition “Pepsi” GMT Master 1675’s . Man of the WORLD is honored to carry this truly historical piece, which is sure to be a cornerstone of any man’s collection.