UAE Ministry of Defence 1675 Rolex GMT-Master
UAE dial Rolexes are about a desirable as it gets, in any context. But the vast majority of signatures are on Datejusts and Day-Dates, the dressier watches. A steel sport Rolex with UAE enamel at 6 is remarkable in every regard. This is particularly the case for the 1675 GMT-Master, where the watches were emblazoned with the Quraysh Hawk in honor of their Ministry of Defence at the request of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Emir of Dubai.
Where many Day-Dates 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 produced from roughly 1971-1979, went mostly to helicopter pilots. The GMT connection here is likely more than skin deep. There are other iterations of this hawk signature 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. Though all of this is conjecture, this does seem to be the case from previous examples coming to market and has been speculated by Phillips equally.
In 2014, a blueberry UAE 1675 went for 197K CHF at Christie’s. The last sale of this signature variant was by Phillips in 2018, where a black-bezel variant hammered at 220K CHF. It’s tough to know if that’s a data point or two parties aggressively bidding eachother, because there are very few other sales to scour. Just a handful have ever come to market. Rare gets thrown around a lot, often incorrectly with regard to Rolex, but this one truly is. Perhaps the ideal gift for some helicopter business mogul, for the rest of us a deeply interesting historic footnote of when Rolex actually bent to consumer wishes. Granted, you had to be ruler of Dubai, but still.
This example has a relatively full case that has probably seen a light polish. Surface wear is moderate. But the all-important dial is a clear standout. The tritium is tanned evenly and all of the script is clear. The hawk and signature enamel are perfect. It comes from the Dubai office of a well-regarded London retailer.
Find this UAE 1675 here from The Watches of Knightsbridge Oysterbar for 140000 USD.