1675/8 Rolex GMT-Master
In the words of the esteemed Wiz Khalifa, ‘Yeah, uh, you know what it is, black and yellow’. He had it right. The 1675/8 is famed for its nipple dial with applied conical indices, but mostly for being the archetypal gold Rolex. While the GMT-Master was made for the jet set first in steel, Rolex recognized early on that its well-heeled, travel-hungry clientele could afford a little extra aureate. Almost as soon as the 6542 was borne, it had been realized in gold. While gold 1675s came with black and brown nipple dials which are both very lovely, there’s an inherent appeal to a good black and yellow.
A vintage gold GMT-Master is undoubtedly more a statement than it is a timekeeping device. That statement unequivocally used to be ‘I’ve made it’. Today, that statement still exists and on rock-solid footing. But, very frequently these days, it might also be ‘I’m a watch nerd paying serious attention in vintage Rolex’. What used to be an exclusive hallmark of success is often now also a harbinger of extreme watch addiction. The open-minded often go gold. Either way, it’s someone who’s going to provide great conversation over drink. These days, there’s also a fairly decent chance of ‘my dad died, so now I have this’, but let’s not muddy the waters. You’ll see everyone from tech-nerd Instagram boss Adam Mosseri to Arnold Schwarzenegger wearing a vintage gold GMT, the appeal is wide-ranging.
The black dial, as opposed to the root-beer brown, is a little easier to pair in dress. This example from 1968 still has an acrylic crystal, which is an aesthetic that was lost when quickset was introduced which many collectors desire. To add a just a hint of further vintage flavor, the case is really sized closer to a 39 than 40 in actuality. These were originally sold at or near 3500 CHF, where steel retailed around 1200-1500 CHF. Today even this, a bracelet-less example, will easily return 10X that. However, steel comes close to that as well. The premium originally commanded for precious metal has been nearly wiped out by collectors as both appreciated. Perhaps it’s time for it to return as the Miami Vice and Wolf of Wall Street gold stereotypes fall by the wayside. Who knew Wiz Khalifa and Arnold Schwarzenegger had so much in common?
This example appears to be well looked after. The case has defined bevels present, with just a hint of rounding that indicates either consistent wear or a very light polish. The dial is great, with a light patina in the lacquer from expansion and warm tritium. The bezel isn’t really ghosted at all. It comes from a well-regarded Parisian retailer, watch only.