Burgundy-Brown Bakelite Bezel, Alpha Hands

With the 6542, we see that gold examples have been part of the mix from the early days of the GMT-Master, making it the first of Rolex's sport watches to be made in gold (though there were certain pre-Daytona chronographs made in gold). The literally high-flying world of international commercial aviation was better suited to precious-metal tool watches than the SCUBA environment that gave rise to the Rolex Submariner just a couple of years earlier, it seems. Replica Watches UK

As with the steel version, the gold 6542 had a 38mm case. The original gold 6542 bezels are likewise Bakelite, though rather than the bi-color blue and red, they were burgundy-brown in hue. There were two dials that came with the gold 6542. The version that we have here features the lighter champagne dial, but there is also a version of the gold 6542 with a darker tawny dial that is more close in hue to the burgundy-brown bezel insert.

This is also the first instance of what will become a recurring theme in gold GMT-Masters, the nipple marker for the hours. The nipple-style marker will be a hallmark of the gold GMT-Master for several years, right up to and including the transitional ref. 16758. The example that we have here is on a breitling replica pristine gold Oyster bracelet. And the case came with a Twinlock crown, also in yellow gold, identified by the line underneath the five-pointed Rolex coronet, making it an "underline" crown.

Whereas the steel 6542 has a Mercedes hour hand and lollipop seconds, typical of Rolex sport watches, the minutes and hours of the gold 6542 are alpha hands, and the seconds are of a simple baton style with counterweight. Like the steel 6542, the GMT hand features a small triangle. The movement used in this watch is the cal. 1065.

It would be easy to mistake this 6542 with a converted bezel for an early reference 1675. By the time of the aforementioned 1961 lawsuit, Rolex had already recalled the Bakelite bezel. The watch that we have here, with its nicely tropicalized dial, was born with Bakelite, but that bezel was ultimately replaced with the metal insert we see here as a result of a recall. Other times, Rolex service centers were known to have scraped the radium out of the bezel inserts and replaced it with tritium or left it empty of luminous material.

1n early 1960, Rolex issued a statement through its authorized dealers in the United States to address confusion caused by its recall of Bakelite bezels. From this document, we can learn a few things. For one, we can tell that as of the time this document was issued, just 605 GMT-Masters with Bakelite bezels had been imported to the United States – a tiny amount. The document also asserts that the GMT-Master at the time was "a special-purpose wrist chronometer used mostly by navigators and pilots for telling time accurately in two timezones simultaneously." My, how the GMT has grown beyond its initial scope, and also grown in price. At the time of the statement, a stainless-steel ref. 6542 would have cost a pilot $240, and a gold model would set him back $600.

The reference 1675 was in production from 1959 until 1980, making it one of the longest-running Rolex references in existence. Over the course of that time, Rolex made many changes, large and small, to the GMT-Master, but the boldest line of demarcation dividing production into two categories is the one between earlier gilt and later matte dial variations. This separation is one that will be familiar to anyone who cares about vintage Rolex, as similar dividing lines can be found in vintage Submariners and Explorers too. One will find GMT-Master ref. 1675s with gilt dials in production dates from 1959 to roughly 1966-67. Matte dials pick up in about 1966 and continue through to the end of the ref. 1675 in about 1979-80, and they go on within the GMT-Master more broadly to include earlier examples of the 16750. In the early period of the 1675, one will notice that the bezel fonts are thicker or fatter than those seen in more recently produced watches. Because of their age and their limited supply, those fat-font bezels tend to command a premium over the thinner variations.

With regard to movements, we'll see two used over the span of the ref. 1675. In watches produced until about 1965-'66, we'll see the 18,000 vph caliber 1565. Around the 1.4m serial mark, Rolex transitioned the GMT-Master to the high-beat (for its time) caliber 1575, which received a hacking function around 1971. There is an exception to this two-movement rule, though, and it applies to very early and rare gilt dials that retain the OCC text. More on that in a bit. I'd like to thank Dr. Andrew Hantel for his scholarship of this reference