Rolex GMT-Master 1675 circa 1978 with Mark 5B dial…in Rolex UK stickers !

In September 2017, Miltons in the old Roman city of Chester were lucky enough to purchase this fine example of the iconic Rolex GMT-Master 1675 :

It is a model which has a key place in the history of the range which has now been offered in some form or other for some seventy years.

The GMT-Master was first introduced in the 1950s with the model 6542, which was promoted as a watch for travellers crossing international times zones, famously including Pan-Am pilots. We are extremely lucky to have this example with very rare and original Bakelite bezel tucked away in a Miltons safe !

Our records of that model indicate small batches of production, with case numbers between 212xxx and 486xxx.

Then at the start of the 1960s the model 1675 with its new 15xx series movements was launched. Our earliest recorded examples have 503xxx case numbers and case-backs marked for the first three months of 1960. For a few years they were fitted with various “gilt” dials (that is, with gold-coloured text), but from the mid-1960s until the end of production some twenty years later the text was in white, as found on the watch we are writing about here :

and as illustrated in this 1970s cue-card supplied to Rolex main agents :

The blue and red bezel (no doubt this one now a new insert, fitted at service) was intended to support visual interpretation of day-light / darkness in the second time zone. An arguably smarter but less functional all-black insert was available, but it is this classic “Pepsi” format (reminiscent of that cola’s red and blue branding) which has attracted greatest collector favour in recent years.

It is not surprising that a model like this with such a long production life should be found with very slightly different dials through the years, but the 1675 seems to have been blessed with an especially large number of dial generations. While it cannot be confirmed as definitive, there is one Rolex enthusiast’s website whose classification system we and many others favour. It allows us to identify and speak of dials with some sort of consistency : Andrew Hantel’s excellent GMT 1675 dial website

Using his classification, our watch has a Matte / white text Mark 5B  dial. When making such an identification, we look at details like the shape of the Rolex coronet, individual letters (the R and E of Rolex variously change), print anomalies (such as the slight “blob” at the bottom of the leg of R in ROLEX) and the relative positions of letters, one to another . . .

Here we note the final E of SUPERLATIVE, with its high mid-stroke, the position of the M in GMT-MASTER in relation to the C below it and the wide shape of the O in OFFICIALLY, which is narrower in some other versions.

The text at  the bottom of the dial indicates that the luminous material is tritium, but its unique style and positioning again supports identification as a Mark 5B dial.


The three versions of Mark 5 dial may be found at this specific page of the Hantel website : Mark 5, 5A and 5B dials

It is pleasing to note that this dial is consistent with other watches manufactured around the same time as our watch with its 55722xx case number, circa 1978 :


It came to  us with a highly desirable Rolex “sea-horse” box set, with “Fifty Years of the Rolex Oyster 1926-1976” plaque . . .

. . . and original “1675/a/b” sticker. The model reference is obvious, we believe “a” denotes “acier” (steel) but we are not sure about the “b” :

The case-back is also clearly and correctly marked with the 1675 model number . . .


. . . but what are all those other, hand-scratched numbers ? Well, believe it or not they are connected with the striped stickers on both sides of the watch case :

For a number of years, these stickers were applied by Rolex UK after they had carried out service work. This particular watch was no stranger to Rolex !

There are a number of indications that a watch has been serviced by Rolex. Correspondence and invoices, service warranty cards and markings inside the case-back are all helpful, especially if consistent with each other and with an established database of Rolex service numbers such as that in Miltons’ private archive.

Let’s look more closely at the scratched service marks inside this watch, with any corresponding documentation :

LON/2/80-95456 indicates a first visit to Rolex UK in February 1980. As this would seem to be early in the watch’s life, it may have been for something as simple as regulation (adjustment of the time-keeping to suit the individual wearer’s lifestyle and habits).

LON 4/09 979345 indicates service by Rolex UK in mid-2009 and is supported by a service slip dated June 2009.

LON 31782 2/14 indicates work by Rolex UK in early 2014 which is consistent with Goldsmiths paperwork.

12/16 LON 47/131696 indicates that Rolex UK received the watch for the last  time (so far!) in December 2016. This is supported by Rolex UK’s service card dated February 2017 and associated Goldsmiths paperwork, it clearly having been sent through them as Rolex main agents.

Clearly the property of a diligent keeper, at some point the watch has been fitted with a new Oyster 78360 bracelet, its O1 clasp code indicating January 1990 manufacture :

Rolex wanted to replace this bracelet at the last service, but they are sometimes a little “keen” to supply new parts when the existing ones have plenty of life left in them ! The client declined and we think made a very reasonable decision.

The movement will typically be serviced each time a watch returns to Rolex :

It is the correct 1575 calibre, fitted as usual with a bridge marked just “1570” as was common to various versions.

Below we can see the movement’s unique number, D724674 (the D denoting this as a movement with Date complication).

Consider how the once-luminous tritium on the dial fails to be excited at all when exposed to a UV lamp :

Immediately after exposure to UV, the dial luminous is completely “flat.” Everything is consistent with this being the original, tritium dial from the late 1970s, with hands matching the dial well in both normal and UV light.

Famous wearers of the 1675 included Marlon Brando . . . and Tom Selleck as Magnum P.I. !

Miltons in Chester and Liverpool city centre are always looking to buy such interesting Rolex watches. Please contact us if you have piece that you think may be of interest , whether you would simply like to learn more about it or for us to make an offer, without commitment on your part.

© Haywood Milton, July 2023.


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