Thursday, 19 June 2008

A Review of the Rolex GMT 1675… Pepsi on my PanAm flight please


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It was in the early 80s that my parents decided to take me and my sis all the way to Disneyland. No need to say which one it was as at the time as I believe there was only one then and it was near (not in) Los Angeles. (RT: i've since been informed that there was one in Florida already. Didn't know it and I'm not a Disney expert so...) What this meant is that at 8 years of age I flew to San Francisco on a now almost forgotten airline (ask anyone below 20) known as Pan American airways. I also remember rather vividly that they provided me and my sister with very fun coloring kits and cool model plastic planes that I really enjoyed and the stewardesses were always smiling and nice to us. The logo of the airline I found pretty cool too and still do. I suppose thats why its something that pops up on retro gear once in awhile.

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This is prelude to the main reason for this article/review though. Pan Am although no longer flying is partly responsible as well for my most recent acquisition. The Rolex GMT Master. I believe it was in 1952 that Pan Am approached Rolex to create a GMT watch for them. Pan Am had already established routes to far flung destinations from the US much earlier than that but the increasing issue with pilots facing jet lag must have spurred them to make this request to one of the best Swiss watch houses around (IMO) And so it was that Rolex worked together with them to come up with the GMT Master. The first generation of this model did not have crown guards, came with gilt dials, and had a blue and red bezel (affectionately termed pepsi bezel) to help pilots know what was home and local time and adjust better to the other timezones. The second generation of it is now on my wrist.

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the bezel insert makes the watch – the pepsi bezel… red and blue is the only way to go on the GMT

I wrote in the past about how straps can make a watch. Rolexes should be on bracelets most of the time and the old Rolex oysters are some of the most comfy bracelets out there. The only watch in their range that gets off the bracelet should be the old subs and milsubs that also belong or have to be on NATO straps in the case of the latter. for the GMT the bezel insert makes the watch. it does not deserve the boring black or the coke bezel with black and red... its gotta be pepsi for me ;) nice and faded too as brand new ones just don't cut it for a vintage piece...

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my assessment of the watch

Its got the looks

Matte tritium dials and hands are da bomb. Aged and patina’ed to perfection. Nice old fonts and tall slim sexy coronet. 3 lines of text on the lower half isn’t that bad. The date wheel in silver is gorgeous. Red GMT hand to match red on bezel insert works.

High quality and cool functions

The ability to see a second timezone is useful. ( I sometimes turn the bezel to 17 on the top so that i can see the time in London). The blue represents nite and the red represents day.

The bezel doesn't turn with clicks but is really solid on my watch and a fair amount of pressure is needed to turn it which means no slack and slippage. The date changes have the most satisfying click on any watch I have had and it almost makes me happy that its not a quickset.

The quality of this watch is excellent. My watch was serviced recently, maybe a couple of months ago and when put on the machine it was slower by 0.5 to 1 sec a day. Not bad for a 30+ year old watch.

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The negatives

No quickset date – this came in with the 16750 model. When asked if i would choose between the 2, the 1675 wins out everytime for me.

Cyclops – I just don’t like it much but its true to the watch so I aint changing the crystal

Twinlock instead of triplock – twinlock is a bit small, harder for folks with fat fingers ;)

Whats best about it?

Character and although I hesitate a little on using the word, soul... Before you baulk at these terms being used to describe what is essentially metal, small bits of other materials and a bunch of gears and pivots, vintage Rolexes have it in my opinion and have it in spades.

For the new fangled bigger and fancier pieces from other brands, some of them do have character but some are pretty, faddish, trendy and soul-less shells. what does it say about the wearer who buys and wears watches without much character...

I guess whats most important is that I really enjoy wearing this watch. Its beautiful to me, sits wonderfully on my wrist and I would choose this model over any of the later GMT models every single day and twice on sundays ;) Actually I would choose a good condition vintage Rolex (condition and authenticity is everything for vintage) over any modern Rolex.

If Rolex were to issue a GMT II ceramic with pepsi ceramic bezel, red GMT hand and red lettering on the dial though, i would probably be all over it :)

Hope you enjoyed this. cheers, raph

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10 comments:

Stefano said...

Raph,

Great write up. Love the history of the watch and your reason for getting it. Very cool.

Looks very nice all "Pepsified".

Enjoy it! It looks great!

Stefano

raphmeister said...

thanks stefano :) always good to hear from you mate.

cheers
raph

HALIMAN said...

Awesome review. This is one of my all-time favorite Rolexes. I remember growing up wanting one and now that I can afford it it's just so hard to find these vintage treasures. Congrats!!!

bradkoen said...

I got a 1979 GMT Master with black and gold. Does anyone have refrence on this one? It is a 1675, and it came with an all stainless steel oyster bracelet with flip lock.
Brad

bradkoen said...

Nice Review.
Do you have any refrence to this watch that I just picked up today? A 1675 GMT Master, 5 mil (circa 1979), with black and gold insert, gold crown, and all stainless oyster band with flip lock.
Brad

raphmeister said...

Hi Brad
The references for your Rolex should be found imbetween the lugs and on the movement for case and movement references.
cheers
raph

Anonymous said...

didnt pan-am commission rolex to make the gmt-master on the 6542?

by 1st generation did u mean the 6542?

by 2nd generation did u mean yr 1675?

but in the 1675 prior to yrs, thru the years, from the mid 50's to the late 70's, the 1675 was produced with the small mini hand, pointed crown guards, occ dial......

raphmeister said...

didnt pan-am commission rolex to make the gmt-master on the 6542?
YES
by 1st generation did u mean the 6542?
YES
by 2nd generation did u mean yr 1675?
YES

on your last part, sure the 1675 went through many variations but it was all within 1 model reference, the 1675.

Darth-khips said...

got mine last month, along with a omega 861, from same seller. for some reason, i never been a big fan of the pepsi, but it slowly won me over. seems like we got several common watches btw, so what can i say.... GREAT TASTE

raphmeister said...

hey darth

congrats on the purchase of great timepieces.. both the 1675 and the omega 861. the options with the bezel are great and the pepsi works for quite a number of folks n for me :) agreed dat u hv great taste too.. enjoy the journey!

cheers
raph

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