With charm no modern Rolex sport model can truly imitate, the GMT-Master (ref. 1675) is an icon of legends past. A watch from the era of true Rolex tool watches, the GMT-Master was first commissioned for PanAm pilots in the late 1960s. After a week on the wrist, I realize why so many watch brands, including Rolex, are drawing so much design inspiration from past models.
Born out of necessity in the early ’70s for pilots and made wildly popular by celebrities and characters, such as Magnum P. I., the Rolex GMT-Master, reference 1675, is the definition of a living icon. It was offered on two bracelet styles. They are the classic oyster and the more formal jubilee (often only associated with the Rolex Datejust). Through the week I spent wearing it, I gained an all-new level of appreciation for vintage Rolex.
The well-loved jubilee bracelet has aged in a way that modern Rolex bracelets will not. The five-link style band hugs your wrist just like your favorite worn-in pair of jeans. Just enough flex to let you comfortably go about your day, with a hint of structure to remind you it’s there.
It’s no surprise the modern Pepsi GMT on a Jubilee bracelet has become one of the most sought after watches in the Rolex lineup (with multi-year waitlists to prove it). This watch has aged very well, the Pepsi bezel adds a nice pop of color to any outfit.
At just under 40mm and 12mm thick, the watch sits much flatter on the wrist than modern Rolex sport models, especially those with the maxi-case design. It tucks easily under any dress shirt cuff and the well-worn jubilee bracelet flexes effortlessly through the day. While some see this as the downside of an old watch, I love the story the bracelet tells how time has affected its wearability. It’s almost like your favorite T-shirt or pair of jeans.
How to style:
With the exception of a tuxedo, this watch went with everything. I loved suiting up with it because it made me feel like James Bond (before the OMEGA deal he wore a Submariner). I think the Pepsi bezel adds a subtle flair to any suit. While, the jubilee adds a very dressy feel in that context.
And jumping to the opposite end of the spectrum, I enjoyed throwing it on with a tee shirt and denim jacket. It’s the closest to being John Mayer I will ever be. It’s also the cool factor for any guy dressing down a vintage Rolex is such a classic look.
Overall, while I am primarily a fan of modern Rolex, this watch really brought it home for me. I think the combination of the jubilee paired with a Pepsi bezel differentiates the watch from most Rolex watches you will see in the wild. It certainly makes for a more interesting ice breaker. The one potential shortcoming for some might be the watertight aspect of the watch. It features a twin-lock system, once sufficient for up to 200 meters of water resistance. But, I would feel less comfortable swimming with it personally. An easy way to combat this would be having the seals replaced by either a very good watchmaker, or Rolex. Something to consider with Rolex is the amount of time the service will take and the possibility of them adding all-new parts to the watch. This could take away from the vintage charm.
Either way, you can’t go wrong with this watch.