by Dana Li
For my first post, I thought it would be fitting to write about the first watch I purchased for myself, a vintage Rolex GMT Master 1675/3 from 1970.
My vintage two-tone Rolex GMT 1675/3, also known as the Root Beer.
Why I Love It
This watch is definitely one of my favorites in my collection for a number of reasons: the burgundy dial, the bezel patina, the gold accents on the markers. I’ve always loved the GMT complication because I used to travel frequently and needed to keep track of multiple time zones, so when I saw this beauty (especially one in such great condition), I couldn’t resist. In my opinion, this vintage Rolex GMT Root Beer is an absolute classic and a great piece to add to anyone’s collection.
Rolex developed the GMT as a reliable way to track time as people flew into different time zones in the 1950s when flight distances increased. Pan-Am pilots relied on the GMT during their travels, solidifying the history and importance of this watch. The first reference was the 6542 featuring the iconic “Pepsi” red and blue bezel; however there were a few 6542s in solid gold with the brown dial and bezel, which is my absolute favorite Rolex GMT. Truthfully I still eye the one that sold at Phillips a few years back very longingly at times.
Since then, a number of variations have been developed with new colors and materials, the Root Beer being my personal favorite. It comes in solid gold and a two-tone version, with the gold version typically sporting a solid brown bezel and the two-tone with a brown/cream one; however, back in the day, customers were able to request their bezels to be changed at the retailers so you’ll see different combinations of case materials and bezels.
A close-up of my Root Beer GMT. The patina on the bezel and dial are easily my favorite things about this watch.
My favorite part about this watch is the dial. My 1675/3 Root Beer has developed a beautiful oxblood red patina and has a nipple dial, which refers to the gold accented markers. When the Root Beer was reintroduced in the new GMT-Master II lineup in the 80’s, Rolex used applied markers with yellow gold resembling the markers on current Rolex sports watches instead of the ones you see on these vintage GMT Masters. These later Root Beer GMTs also have sunburst dials in a striking caramel color.
In terms of size and wearability, both the GMT-Master and GMT-Master II have a 40mm case and come on an Oyster or Jubilee bracelet. Personally, I think the Jubilee gives the watch a dressier look vs. a sportier look with the Oyster bracelet. It’s a great every day watch that can also be dressed up for a special occasion as is or with a strap. One thing to note, the early Root Beer GMT-Masters do not have a quick set date function whereas the GMT-Master II’s do.
All in all, the Root Beer is an incredibly versatile, functional, and wearable watch. If you’re looking for a classic watch with a twist, this is definitely a great piece to add to your collection.