The purpose of this brief essay is to precisely illustrate the main characteristics of the Rolex GMT Master reference 1675 with Mk3 Matt Radial dial.
In advance, I would like to point out that everything you will read here is exclusively the result of my own researches and experience.
Obviously, suggestions or clarifications on the subject are welcome.
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ROLEX GMT MASTER
Rolex GMT Master reference 1675 production started around 1959.
Reference 1675 is the worthy successor of the legendary 6542, the previous GMT model in Rolex production.
The main differences between 6542 and 1675 are the aluminium bezel, the more performing and precise caliber and the renewed case design.
Reference 1675 remained in production for almost 20 years, until around 1979.
In this long period of time it has been continually subject to several slight restyling to some of its components (dial, movement, bracelet ecc) which testify Rolex’s continuous will to innovate its products both on an aesthetic and technical level in order to meet the latest customers needs and to technologically keep up with competitors.
The dial, even to non-expert eyes, is the one that undergoes the most obvious changes : from the gilt chapter ring dials with OCC writing and then COSC to the ones with open minute track and finally to white graphics MATT dials.
The following pictures of some fabulous 1675 Gmt Masters we traded in the past show some of the dials appeared during the production of this reference.
ROLEX GMT MASTER REF.1675 SER. 0,505,XXX GILT OCC DIAL.
ROLEX GMT MASTER REF. 1675 SER. 0,695,XXX GILT SCOC CLOSED TRACK DIAL.
ROLEX GMT MASTER REF. 1675 SER. 1,330,XXX GILT SCOC OPEN TRACK DIAL.
ROLEX GMT MASTER 1675 SER. 1,952,XXX MK1 LONG E MATT DIAL.
Among the 1675 dials, the rarest and most interesting one for collectors is surely the so called Radial.
This dial is for sure one of the most fascinating of the entire Rolex production of the time.
The main feature of this dial is that the indexes are more centered and smaller than the standard GMT dials, a configuration this which immediately captures the eye of an experienced collector.
This peculiar dial configuration began to appear in the GMT Master line up in the early 60s.
However, not all the collectors are aware of this fact given the extreme rarity of GMTs with a gilt radial dial.
Here we show some very rare examples, one even coming with the very unusual dual indication swiss – Swiss t-25.
ROLEX GMT MASTER REF. 1675 SER. 0,875,XXX GILT RADIAL UNDERLINE DIAL.
ROLEX GMT MASTER REF. 1675 SER. 1,017,XXX GILT RADIAL DOUBLE SWISS DIAL.
After the very short production period in the early 60s of this dial, the radial configuration was taken up by Rolex in the second half of the 70s.
The main difference between the ones produced and in the 60s and those in the 70s is that the radial dials are no longer gilt, but with a matt base.
This brief essay sets out to deeply analyze this later matt radial configuration of the iconic reference 1675, that is to say the Mk3 Matt Radial dial.
The production range where we can find this rare GMT configuration is fairly restricted.
The Mk3 Matt Radial dial has been assembled on Gmt Masters 1675 exclusively from 1976 to 1978, this is to say circa between 4.2 and 5.5 million serial numbers.
Taking into consideration that from 4.2 circa service cases started to be produced we can well imagine how small is the number of production cases suitable for this dial.
DIAL AND HANDS
As already mentioned the main feature of the Mk3 Matt Radial dial is that the indexes are more centered and smaller than the standard GMT dials.
Getting into more technical details, it can also be observed that the writings have more serifs if compared to the other 1675 classified marks, both on the upper part, the COSC writing and the T<25 designation.
Due to their desirability, the Radial dials are often counterfeited.
For us who have many years of experience in the watch industry it can be fairly easy to distinguish a fake from an original radial dial.
However for those with a less trained eye it may be useful to observe some particularities with the following macro shots that can help you to distinguish as unquestionably original a radial dial.
Pic Courtesy Cristian Gensiulia
The hands set is the the typical we can find on every Rolex Gmt Master produced by Rolex : GMT big arrow, Mercedes hands, lollipop centre seconds.
However, the following pictures show that the tritium can take on a different shade of patina, either cold or very warm.
Casebacks which can be found on Mk3 Matt Radial dials are essentially of two main types depending on the the serial number being lower or higher than 5.3 or 5.4 circa.
TYPE 1 :
TYPE 2 :
However, in rare cases older casebacks might also be found due to the fact that components that were actually stocks left behind have been used on this and on other Rolex references.
In any case I personally exclude the presence of the date in the Rolex Mk3 Matt Radial dial being it a previous caseback than the one produced from 1976.
Same with the presence of the word PATENTED which must always be present in all 1675 Mk3 Matt Radial dial.
Otherwise, in both cases described, the caseback could very likely be a later service replacement.
The movement of the Mk3 Matt Radial dial GMT is the classic 1575 GMT derived from the 1530 caliber, but with 1570 engraved on the bridge. The 1575 is an automatic movement with slow date remittance, 19800 alt., 26 stones, a height of 6.30 mm and a diameter of 28.50 mm.
Picture Courtesy of Simone – Tudor 7206
Something very important when analysing a GMT Master 1675 movement of this period is the presence on the movement plate of the word “D”.
This letter “D” indicates that the movement was intended to be mounted on a Rolex reference with date, as the GMT-Master.
However it is important to remember that the necessary presence of the letter “D” on the movement plate exclusively apply to Rolex production during the 70s.
In fact, in movements manufactured during the 60’s it is a common happening not to always find the letter “D” in Rolex watches with date function.
Same with no date function Rolex watches produced in the 60’s which, sometimes, had the “D” engraved before the COSC number on the movement plate.
The number after the “D” is the COSC movement number.
There is no evidence at all that COSC movement numbers are temporally sequential or they follow a logical sequence.
However in extreme cases, with very high serial number and very low COSC number, I would definitely take a deeper look at the caliber.
The same if we cannot find the letter “D” before the numbers in the movement.
In both cases this could be the result of an assembly of different movements, occurred in a later moment than the original assembly in the Rolex factory.
I also recommend you to observe the general wear of the various components of the caliber : a sort of consistency should be appreciated.
If some parts have been replaced during a Rolex official Service or by a casual watch maker, these parts will clearly show a fresher look compared to the others that have not been replaced.
Should you find yourself before a specimen guaranteed as “a barn find, untouched and never opened” watch, you must definitely check the movement screws.
The reason why you should is that even the most careful watchmaker when disassembling a watch to repair it will leave some traces behind.
Here follows a screw detail:
In any case, when purchasing a 1675 Mk3 Matt Radial dial or any other vintage model, I would only consider that all the caliber components are consistent and show same wear and conditions.
It is absolutely common for vintage watches to have undergone maintenance at some stage, such as the replacement of the rotor or spiral.
I personally consider components like bracelets, crown, date wheel, bezels and inlay
not so decisive in the purchase of a vintage watch.
At the time, most of Rolex sport models were intended as true tool watches.
For this reason the majority Rolex watches which are now collectable had to be often serviced in order to be kept completely functional for the scope they where manufactured for.
Therefore it was a kind of usual happening that the parts more subject to wear such as the mentioned bezels, crown, bracelets ecc. were often replaced when serviced.
Said that in the next paragraphs you will find a brief summary of the main facts to take note regarding these components when you are considering to purchase a Rolex Gmt 1675 Mk3 Matt Radial dial.
BRACELETS, CROWN, DATE WHEEL
The bracelets usually seen in Mk3 Matt Radial dial GMTs are generally of two main types depending on the country the watch was originally sold in :
EUROPE : Oyster 78360/580 or Jubilee 6251h0/555-550.
EXTRA EUROPE : american bracelets with punched riveted meshes or Hecho en Mexico Jubilele bracelets.
An example of a riveted american bracelet :
The crown is the classic TWIN LOCK present on all the GMT 1675 Rolex production.
The correct date wheel is the classic with open 6 and 9 with Silver Soleil background.
BEZEL AND INLAY
The bezel on a 1675 Mk3 Matt Radial dial should belong to the second series one, this is to say the one with less marked flutes.
FIRST SERIES :
SECOND SERIES :
The aluminium inlay suitable for a 1675 Mk3 Matt Radial dial cannot be 100% classified as there is a huge variety of graphic settings for the 1675 models that can be noticed simply by observing the position of the number 18 on the border between red and blue or else the thickness of the font.
Over the years they also could have been swapped several times to please the owners personal taste.
Some classification of those mid 70’s GMT inlays have been made by collectors, but in in this case, in my personal view, giving too tight definitions would be misleading and wrong.
The most important thing you should consider when looking at a GMT inlay are basically two : it must be original and, most importantly, it must match your own personal aesthetical taste.
SERIAL NUMBERS, REFERENCE, PAPERS AND BOX SETS
When talking about serial numbers and reference, warranty and box/booklet sets, in order not to give too much detailed information and thus favour the job of fakers, I will just show you a peculiar fact that can be found on some GMT Mk3 Matt Radial dial specimens.
The STAINLESS STEEL writing, usually found over the serial number of the watch, it is sometimes engraved together with the reference when the latter should usually go together with the writing REGISTERED DESIGN.
The two following pictures of a 100% original reference and serial number are a proof of this.
Pic Courtesy of Carlo Cantelli Orologi
Pic Courtesy of Carlo Cantelli Orologi
And here ends my essay about the rare 1675 Rolex GMT Mk3 Matt Radial dial configuration.
I obviously kept some things for myself, but you know, some small mysteries have always pushed people to investigate, study, learn and become more curious.
If we already knew everything, our common passion would become rather boring, don’t you think so? :)