The GMT-Master story begins in 1955 when their very first pilot watch was made for Panam pilot's ref 6542. Which featured a bakelite bezel. It was replaced with the ref. 1675 which was in production from 1959 until 1980 when the ref. 16750 was introduced until Rolex replaced it with the ref:16700 in 1988. At NASA Jack Swigert of Apollo 13 wore one in 1970, and US Air Force pilots wore them. It was also worn by Sean Connery in Goldfinger in 1964.
Our 1998 reference 16700 came at the transition period for Rolex when they moved from Tritium “T” on the dial to Luminova “L” in 1998 to LumiNova in 1999. Interestingly this one has “T” on the dial but is actually LumiNova in the dial and handset. It is quite possible that Rolex was clearing stock of the old dials. This 1998 GMT-Master has a 40 mm stainless steel case, ergonomically shaped with its subtle curve to the lugs making for a very comfortable fit on the wrist. The polished sides transition with the brushed top surface. Crown guards protect the screw-down crown from any knocks. Its bezel has the iconic blue and red “Pepsi” insert that has faded a little with age. 24-hour numerals radiate the bezel, the red indicates the daytime while the blue signifies the nighttime. In the box are included 3 bezels, a genuine Rolex "Pepsi" bezel non-faded, and a genuine Rolex "Coke" bezel, the faded bezel currently fitted and the black bezel provided are aftermarket. The sapphire crystal sits slightly above the bezel and has the cyclops magnifier over the date at 3 o’clock. The black dial has Luminova filled white gold framed discs and batons for hours. Mercedes hands with Luminova infill complete with a sweeping second hand with a lollipop counterbalance. The red GMT hand has a white LumiNova arrowhead. The hour hand and GMT hand are linked making this a true GMT as opposed to a separately setting GMT hand. On the reverse, a plain coin-edged case back. Inside an Automatic Rolex Cal. 3175, 31 Jewels, 28,800 Beats per hour. It has both hacking and quick set date functions. Fitted on a 20 mm Oyster bracelet with the Oysterlock system that prevents the bracelet from accidentally opening.
Points of Mention
This watch is sold with its original Rolex box and original Rolex paperwork and booklets. The watch comes paired on an original Rolex oyster bracelet with a total length of 21cm. Included is a genuine Rolex "Pepsi" bezel and genuine Rolex "Coke" bezel, the faded "Pepsi" and all-black bezel provided are aftermarket options, all 4 bezels are provided with the sale. The watch is dated 11th July 1998 as per the guarantee paper provided with the watch. The watch is all original and the dial and handset are in fantastic condition. The watch is running fantastic as you would expect and comes with our 12-Months NON-Waterproof Warranty.
So close to being a birth-year Rolex GMT for me! I absolutely adore the watch and the fact it comes with 4 bezel options really gives the owner an abundance of choice and style to suit what they would like on that particular day. Plus the fact this is a Tritium signed dial but actually features Luminova is super interesting, granted this adds no value to the watch, not yet anyway! I do believe one day this will be one of those interesting nuances to a model line that could demand a premium, so why wait for that day? Beat it and get it now...