UAE Ministry of Defence 1675 Rolex GMT-Master

Middle Eastern signatures are one thing, but when you see a polychromatic painting of a Quraysh Hawk in enamel, it’s always an occasion. Made for the emir of Dubai Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, examples are far less in number than say an Oman Khanjar dial. More importantly, for us Rolex lovers, they’re also more frequently seen on professional or sport models. And when I say professional models, it’s really just two: 6263 Daytonas and this 1675 GMT-Master. But many of the UAE 1675 have an additional layer of historic cool. The print to the right hand side of the hawk is that of Wazarah Ad Difa’A, the UAE Ministry of Defence.


Where many signed Rolex in the Middle East were often given as gifts to foreign dignitaries or high-up government employees, lore holds that these GMT-Masters, those with the MoD’s signature to the right of the hawk, went mostly to UAE Air Force helicopter pilots. Produced from roughly 1971-1979, the GMT connection here is likely more than skin deep. There are other iterations of this hawk signature on 1675s that feature the Emir’s signature to the right and those are thought to have been the watches destined for friends of the ruling family directly. Though none of this is truly definite, more than one has surfaced with documents supporting helo provenance. But there are other paths. One came up from an SAS member turned trainer for the Dubai Royal Guard Regiment paratroopers. Another came from a Royal Navy Clearance Diver who worked as a contractor later in the gulf.

The last auction of this signature variant was by Phillips in 2018, where a black-bezel variant hammered at 254K USD. Then one came up from Watches of Knightsbridge last year at 140K USD. But both of those were in steel, and this, well, isn’t. The last gold result with an MoD signature was in 2015, where one just like this achieved 193K, and mind you that’s before the modern watch market as we know it. But it did have an original bracelet, which adds considerable appeal. This is a strange market. In a recent interview with friend of Hairspring Marcus Siems, I was quoted saying, ‘Individual pricing of watches becomes extremely difficult when we’re looking at rare variations. The market becomes stochastic.’ This couldn’t be a better example. It’s as much about if there are two drunk Swiss bank managers in a room as it is about the watch itself. I just hope wherever this winds up that it’s appreciated as the treasure of history that it is.

Its not even let down by condition either. The case has full and proud bevels, wide enough to land a helicopter. The dial is not damaged, no sun burn or lacquer peel. Importantly, the hawk is as solid and proud as the day it was painted. It comes watch-only from a well-regarded California retailer.