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  1. #1
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    Default Rolex GMT Master History and Reference Pictoral (Part 1)

    The Rolex GMT Master



    It was 1905 when Hans Wilsdorf started his quest in perfecting horology. Hans along with his partner Alfred Davis began importing Hermann Aegler Swiss movements to be installed in quality watch cases from Aaron Dennison and others. Dennison, the apprentice to a Brunswick clockmaker by the name of James Cary were said to have made the automatic machines necessary for cutting clock wheels and history was made.


    Hans Wilsdorf

    It was 1908 when Hans applied to have the "Rolex" trademark registered. It was some seven years later when the company name "Rolex" was registered on November 15th, 1915. It was also at this time when Hans opened an office in La Chaux-De Fonds Switzerland.


    La Chaux-De Fonds

    Fast forward some forty years to the year 1954, New York Yankee Joe DiMaggio marries actress Marilyn Monroe, the U.S. explodes a 15 megaton hydrogen bomb at Bikini Atoll and Rolex introduces the GMT Master 6542.


    DiMaggio and Monroe

    In 1954, Rolex introduced several new watches at the annual Basel World including the Explorer, Submariner and Turn o Graph. These timepieces were designed with divers, explorers and consumers in mind. It was at this time the utility watch or “tool watch” got its name, and thus sending Rolex to the front of the line in watch making for professionals. The fact that Rolex had dedicated each watch to a particular task really caught the attention of the largest air carrier in the United States by the name of Pan AM. Pan American World Airways was the largest international air carrier from the mid 1920’s to the company’s demise in the early 90’s. The company was known for its innovations that helped the international airline industry with the use of jet aircraft, jumbo jets and a fully a computerized reservation system which made them leaders in the field of aviation. It was also Pan AM who contacted public relations manager Rene-Paul Jeanneret in regards to building a watch used for specific time zone concerns, and it was at this time the GMT Master was born.


    Rolex 6542 W/ Roulette Date Disc



    The Rolex GMT Master was designed with cooperation by Pan-Am and Rolex. The watch was designed by Captain Frederic Libby and Rene-Paul Jeanneret to allow pilots the ability to track time in multiple time zones simultaneously. It featured an additional hour hand that revolved once every 24 hours and a rotating bezel that was used to track GMT time. It was Libby’s job to supply the technical advice needed to bring the GMT Master to life along with input from Jeanneret.


    1675 GMT Hand

    Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) was used for aviation planning. Since pilots were out of range with radio it was important to track this secondary time zone to judge weather conditions and other important factors while making transoceanic/transatlantic flights. It was 1972 when GMT time was replaced by the aviation industry with Coordinated Universal Time also known as UTC/UT.





    It wouldn’t be the last time the GMT Master would be used for aviation purposes, the watch was also tested by NASA and the military in the early 60‘s. In the 40’s and 50’s NASA had attempted as series of experiments to challenge flight speed and altitude. It was in 1967 that X-15 pilot Pete Knight adorned the GMT-Master during a series of record breaking experiments, at an altitude of 45,000 feet and traveling at 4,532 miles per hour (mach 6.72) the GMT maintained a level of precision at just over 3g’s. Pete’s record breaking event marked the second time a Rolex watch was used during a historic flight. It was in 1947 when X-1 pilot Chuck Yeager made history while breaking the sound barrier, he also had worn a Rolex during this historic flight as well as the time he spent in World War II.


    Pete Knight


    Chuck Yeager

    It was at Basel World in 1954 that the Rolex GMT Master 6542 AKA “***** Galore” was introduced, and one of the most iconic watches in Rolex history was born. In production from 1954-1959 the GMT Master featured a modified 6202 turn-o-graph, a rotating Bakelite bezel, additional hour hand and a calendar disc. The watch was water-proof to 165 feet or 50 meters. In the six year production the watch had minor changes which included movement calibers 1036 (1954-1959), 1065 (1957-1959) and 1066 (1957-1959). The 6542 also featured a Bakelite bezel that was filled with luminous material inside the number markings on the bezel insert, theory behind the Bakelite insert was thought to have reduced the amount of reflection and thus being less of a distraction to pilots. Since the Bakelite bezel insert was prone to cracking Rolex had decided to replace it in 1957 with a metal version. Its is for this reason that has made the original insert very rare and extremely hard to find, its also possible to see these inserts in mint condition selling for upwards of $3K. The Rolex 6542 was also one of the first models to have the Cyclops lens over the plexi-glass which made the date easier to read, since it increased the magnification on the date numerals inside the window. The 6542 is absolutely the most valuable of the GMT Master Series, with its beautiful shoulder-less case, gloss dial and aged markers this is by far one of the most sought after models by collectors all over the world. It can be noted an original 6542 will sell for $30-100 K depending on its condition, compared to the more abundant 1675’s which can be found at just over $3K.


    ***** Galore sporting the GMT Master


    6542 Luminous Bake Lite Insert

    It has also been debated that Rolex produced the 6542 with a white dial; story has it the watch was commissioned by Juan Trippie who was Pan Am’s founder. It was said the executives of Pan Am had intercepted wrist watches that were intended for the pilots and navigators. They had been requisitioned by senior management who felt that they, rather than the flight crews were the ones who deserved the new watches. They complained the pilots had it all, the titles, the brand new Boeing jets and now the watches. They felt shunned, seeing themselves as the reason for the company’s success they were fed up of the second class treatment. Trippe wasn’t satisfied with the situation and demanded the watches be returned for issue to the flight crew; however, to silence the executives Trippe had Rolex build around 100 or so watches solely for the so called “desk pilots”. Differing from the standard black dial version, it was believed these to be the only GMT Masters to have the white dials. To my knowledge it has never been confirmed by Rolex SA that this model truly exists, I guess one will have to form an own opinion as to the truth on the matter.


    Pam AM 6542


    Rolex 1675 PCG “El Cornino”

    It was 1959 when Rolex introduced the 1675. The successor to the 6542 featured major changes to the case, gmt hand, dial and bracelet. It was the “El Cornino” pointed guard case that was offered until around 1964; and a square guard case was produced until the 1675 was replaced by the 16750. Changes to the small GMT hr. hand could be observed as well, a larger silver hand and an even rarer all red GMT hand was produced. Even dial variations were made, the most notable were the glossy chapter ring dials featured from 1959-1964. In 1965 Rolex introduced the matte finished dials. In all I believe the 1675 to have been offered with over six different dial variations, featuring changes to the cornet shape, font and font size. Rolex had also produced special edition UAE dials that were made especially by for the Sultanate of Oman, even rare Tiffany and Co. dials were produced for the famous retailer. The 1675 also featured the words “Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified” on the dial as opposed to the “OCC” dials found on the 6542.


    Rolex 1675 SCG


    Rolex 1675 UAE



    I also found in my research that Rolex offered several different types of bezel inserts, one of which was all blue. These all blue inserts were found on Peruvian and Arabian military issued 1675’s, and the remaining given to Rolex Service Centers as a replacement option for service customers until stocks ran out. In the picture above you can see this UAE example to be fitted with the all blue insert which is very rare. There was also a rare copper colored insert that was made in the 1970’s and was offered for sale on some 1675’s. If you compare inserts you will also notice that there can be differences in font shape, thickness and spacing. It should also be noted that insert colors included black, blue w/ red (Pepsi) and copper w/ gold (Tiger Eye).

    Inserts


    6542 Bakelite Insert


    6542/1675 Pepsi Metal Insert

    If you compare the insert above you will notice the number size isn’t as thick as the insert below, also pay close attention to where the red and blue colors meet on the insert. If you notice the 6 is evenly centered over the red/blue part of the insert; however, on the thin font the “1” in 18 is aligned at the edge of the blue changing point where as the fat font has the “8” in 18 meeting at the red changing point. It can also be noted that the paint used on the all blue insert was silver, and the copper insert is gold.


    1675 Pepsi Fat Font Insert


    1675 Copper Insert


    1675 Blueberry Insert


    1675 Black Insert


    1675 Root Beer Insert

    In conclusion this next section will cover dials, hands, bracelets, cases and case-backs, movements and the many different watches offered under the 6542/1675 model variation.

    Dials

    MK1.

    Features
    - Flat top cornet (aka Bart Simpson dial)
    - Long Pillars on cornet
    - More pronounced O at the cornet base
    - Matte finish and Gilt Finish
    - Early 60’s





    MK2.

    Features
    - Cornet has flatter base
    - O is less flattened and less pronounced
    - Cornet is thicker and pillars are shorter
    - Matte finish
    - Rolex font seems to bleed into the dial more



    MK3.

    Features
    - Radial or Mini matte dial
    - Rolex font is thinner than MK1. And MK2. Dials
    - Cornet has rounded base, long pillars and pronounced bells at the top of the crown.
    - Minute markers are longer around outer track
    - Dial dots are located further into the dials center



    MK4.

    Features
    - Matte dial
    - Short W style cornet with pillars more spaced apart
    - Pronounced O at cornet base
    - Long E in Rolex



    MK5.

    Features
    - Matte dial
    - Creamy White markers
    - Similar cornet to MK4. Dial with pillars spaced closer together with and narrow base



    MK6.

    Features
    - Matte Service dial
    - Swiss printed under 6 hr. marker
    - Similar to MK5. With only words “Swiss” below the 6-Oclock marker
    - Luminova applied to dial markers




    6542 “Officially Certified Chronometer” Dial


    Tiffany & Co. Dial


    1675 Cartier Dial


    Pan Am 6542 Albino Dial

    Datewheels


    6542 Date-wheel


    1675 Date-wheel (Round 3 w/open 6’s and 9’s)


    1675 Silver Date-wheel


    1675 Date-wheel (flat-top 3 on the left and round 3 on the right)

    To be continued with part 2....
    Last edited by eVojlib; 07-22-2012 at 02:50 PM. Reason: Updated thread

  2. #2
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    Default

    W0w - great informative thread and picture archive - well done!.......and thanks.
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    "Your worth consists in what you are and not in what you have." Thomas Edison

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    Default

    Excellent information here. Thank you for taking the time to compile all of this.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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    Default

    No love for this? Just bumping this fine work. What do we need to do in order to make this a sticky?
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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  6. #5
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    All you gotta do is ask....and in pm maybe,i can't see them all.
    Great job,great post.
    Sticky it is.
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    AUT VIAM INVENIAM AUT FACIAM

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  8. #6
    Resident Watch Collector™
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    Thank you very much A, this is a great source of info for all members alike.

    Thanks

    eVo

  9. #7
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    Very informative. Thanks !

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    Default

    what about tom selleck

  11. #9
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    magnum PI

  12. #10
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    Default

    Great guide. I need to build one of these. 16710 is what I've got my eye on

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