I was recently quite ashamed to realize that despite featuring many 1675s, I have not yet spilled ink on behalf of my preferred variant. I often lament the retirement of Concorde. Yes, the plane; hear me out. It’s not often technology takes such a defiant step backwards. Particularly at all of humanities’ expense. However, a token of that history remains and is stronger than ever. If a vintage GMT-Master is the ultimate expression of the jet age’s outset and all that was cool in the era of Castro, then this has to be its crowing variant: I give you the Concorde GMT-Master.
Allow me to first explain the reference, then delve into just why and what ties this GMT to the almighty supersonic British-Airways bird. The GMT-Master was first created (ref 6542) for Pan-Am pilots who needed a functional way to track multiple time zones over long haul flights. Pilot’s standardization to a constant reference Greenwich mean time solved that issue. Rolex adapted their travel companion to include a running hour hand with a secondary timezone. The watch was an iteration on the 3346 and later Turnograph movement. The result was a tool (minus its fragile bezel and radioactive dial) that became inseparably associated with new wealth and the burgeoning jet set.
The 6542 was intended for pilots, but largely adopted by late 60s and early 70s playboys. Omega tried to compete but their efforts have been largely forgotten outside of watch collecting. Rolex’s simple and now-iconic solution has stood the test of time. The 1675 built on that reputation through mass production/distribution, a more robust calibre 1575 bi-directional 19800 vph automatic, and larger more-legible dial. The 1675 has been sported by Fidel Castro, Daniel Craig, Roger Federer, Steve Carrell, and Marlon Brando amongst others. The appeal of a classic GMT-Master is clearly broad and deep. But this is no ordinary 1675.
Here’s where the ultra-detailed fun begins. In one of Rolex’s iconic ads which read, ‘If you were X . . .you’d wear Y’, a brand-new supersonic Concorde was contrasted with a 1675 on a pilot’s wrist. But not any 1675. The watch in question was 18k yellow gold and sported a straight handset, like what you’d see on a period Daytona. That handset became known as the Concorde and was only available on /8 yellow gold GMTs. Moreover, some of these early Concorde 1675/8s carried no crown guards at all. This early combination is extremely rare and highly collected. As nuanced and intricate as Rolex collecting comes, with a nod to one of aviation’s greatest achievements.
This example sports the kind of weathering we dream of. Its dial has faded slightly into a milk-chocolate tone with cream tritium matched in the Concorde handset and nipple dial plots. All printed signatures are still legible and intact. Its bezel, originally a deep reddish black, had gone burgundy in a sort of celebration of the 1970s from which it came. The 18k case is untouched, with full lug proportion and all surface wear still visible. I tend to wear old sports pieces on straps. The gold bracelets these came with scratched too easily for how I wear them and something about the strap aesthetic just works on pieces like this. If you’re the kind of person who can pull off a gold GMT, they don’t come better.
Find this Concorde 1675/8 available here from @worldlywatches by DM on Instagram listed as POA.