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Old 28 January 2008, 05:41 AM   #1
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The Rolex GMT-Master/Master II

In the Beginning:

Here is an excerpt from the Dowling-Hess book; Best of Time, considered to be one of the best researched and authoritative books on Rolex.

"Travelers loved the fact that trans-Atlantic journey times were now halved, from 13 hours to seven, but they suffered from a new phenomenon: "Jet Lag." Simply put, the body's internal rhythms were knocked off balance by the sudden difference between time zones 5 or 6 hours apart. Pan-American [arlines] was worried enough about the effect on its pilots to commission research, and the result was that they were advised to keep their pilots on "home" time during the period they were away from base. At the same time, they needed to be aware of the local time at the various venues.

To meet both of these needs Pan Am asked Rolex to develop a watch. A joint task force from both companies was assigned the problem. Pan Am's team was lead (sic) by the inimitable Captain Frederick Libby, one of the original "Skygods" (the name other Pan Am pilots gave to the original cadre of pilots who had flown for Pan Am before World War II), while the Rolex team was led by the redoubtable Rene'-P. Jeanneret. Jeanneret was called the company's Head of Public Relations, but in fact was the company's Jack-of-All-Trades (and master of all of them). In remarkably short order the task force produced the "G.M.T. Master" (model no. 6542), named after Greenwich Mean Time, the world's standard time, the GMT-Master was a heavily revised version of the "Turn-O-Graph" (model 6202)...
"

Thankfully the watch became a hit and is still with us today in the form of the GMT II, although the original GMT Master was available from 1954 until discontinued in ~1999, a remarkable 45 year run...

The GMT is unique in that there was almost always more than one GMT to choose from and manufacturing of various models overlapped by quite a bit..

Here is a timeline chart of the different models and when they were available. This chart is from www.gmtmasterhistory.com , an excellent site with much information available..

timeline.jpg




Links:

Early GMT Development History

The Original plastic insert mystery

The GMT-Master

GMT references

Evolution of the GMT--Part I

Evolution of the GMT--Part II

1675-Gilt/Gloss, non-hack, small pointer, circa 1966



16750-matt,



16760-R series,



16710


(Photos courtesy of Mike)

16713, Y series
IMG_0458copy.jpg


Recent font variations of the GMT 16710:



Pepsi inserts.jpg

GMT insert information courtesy of Jocke

You ask to identify the GMT bezel insert numbers>>>

1675 and 16750 with plastic crystal use the same inserts.

Sapphire models use the same inserts.

The part numbers are the first 3 digits means it´s a bezel insert. The next 4 or 5 is
for the reference number of the watch and the last number is for the color.

So here we go.

Black with white numbers 315-16750-1
Red/Blue with white numbers 315-16750-6
Bronze/Yellow with yellow numbers 315-16753-5
Black with yellow numbers 315-16753-1
Black with yellow numbers 315-16758-1
Bronze with yellow numbers 315-1675-3
Bronze with yellow numbers 315-16758-3
Black/Red with white numbers 315-16760-7
Black with white numbers 315-16700-1
Red/Blue with white numbers 315-16700-6
Bronze/Yellow with yellow numbers 315-16713-5
Black with yellow numbers 315-16718-1
Bronze with yellow numbers 315-16718-3

Insert sizing:
The 1675/16750 ...............have an I.D. of 30.2 and an O.D. of 37.75mm
The 16700/16760/16710.... have an I.D. of 30.7 and an O.D. of 37.65mm

The Rolex GMT Master

©Write Time Partners V, 1999

Rene-Paul Jeanneret was one of the most important executives at Rolex Geneva in the company's most fruitful period, the 1950s and 60s. His official title was that of Public Relations Director; but he was so much more than that, he involved himself in many aspects of the company's activities including inventing watches; although his name appears on none of the Rolex patents from that period. An active sportsman in many fields including skiing and the newly introduced skin diving; in the early 1950s he came up with the concept of "tool" watches. This was the idea of a watch specifically designed for practitioners of an individual sport or activity. The results of this concept appeared on the Rolex stand at the 1954 Basle Watch Fair in three forms; the Explorer for sportsmen, the Submariner for divers and the Turn-O-Graph for businessmen. The watches all proved to be great successes and so it was no surprise when the world's largest airline Pan-Am wanted a watch that would enable their pilots to keep track of time in two locations; it was to Jeanneret that they turned.

Working in conjunction with Pan-Am.'s Captain Frederick Libby (a decorated World War II veteran and one of the airlines most respected navigators), Jeanneret came up with the idea of a watch with an additional hour hand revolving just once every 24 hours and a rotatable bezel marked with those same 24 hours. The watch itself was a typical Rolex product, it was simply a regular 6202 "Turn-O-Graph" with a different bezel and the 1030 movement normally fitted to Turn-O-Graphs had an additional 24 hour driving wheel and a calendar disk; this, and the fact that the movement was now chronometer certified, allowed Rolex to give the movement a new reference number, 1065. The external look of the watch was very similar to the contemporary Turn-O-Graph and Submariner; it was still quite a slim watch and without the crown protecting "shoulders", looked considerably smaller than the current model. The GMT Master was also important in that it was one of the first Rolex model to feature the new "Cyclops" lens from the introduction of the watch. These first GMT models (ref. 6542) are immediately recognised by the bright plastic bezel insert. This plastic bezel insert was the first item to be changed in 1956, giving way to a metal insert with the numbers now screen-printed. These new bezels were less likely to crack than the earlier plastic ones but were much more likely to fade in bright sunlight.

Due to Pan-Am.'s ever increasing fleet of Boeing 707s the vast majority of the early watches produced went to the company, each plane had a Pilot, a First Officer and a Navigator all of whom were issued with GMT Masters and Pan-Am had several hundred crews all issued with a company GMT Master. These watches bore no company logo; no "Property of" markings and no special dials, apart from one strange bunch of 100+ watches made in 1958 especially to solve a problem inside the airline's Chrysler Building head office (they did not move to the new Pan-Am building until the early 1960s). The problem was simply that as the watches arrived in the head office before being sent off to the field offices for issue to the flight crew, they would be requisitioned by senior management who felt that they, rather than the flight crews, were the ones who deserved a new company Rolex. This happened on a regular basis until one day Juan Trippe, the mercurial head of Pan-Am glimpsed one of the watches on the wrist of an executive and wanted to know why it was not on the wrist of a pilot. The situation was explained to him; the pilots had everything, the gold braid, the titles, and the brand new Boeing jets and now they even got great watches. The executives felt shunned, they saw themselves as the basis of the company's success but were fed up of being treated as second class citizens. Trippe did not like the situation and ordered that all the GMT Masters in the building should be returned to the operation department for subsequent issue to flight crews. However to mollify the executives Trippe had Rolex manufacture a batch of 100+ GMT Masters solely for the "desk pilots"; these differed from the flight crew (and all other) GMT Masters in that they had white dials. They are believed to be the only GMTs made with this colour dial, the order proved a godsend to Rolex as they made these watches in 1959 with the last of the old model 6542 cases; for the new model was waiting in the wings.

The new model (1675) proved to be such a successful model that, unlike the Submariner, it continued almost unchanged for around 25 years. It now featured crown protecting "shoulders", silver printing on the dial, rather than the gilt colour used on the 6542, and the dial itself was now inscribed "Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified", rather than just "Officially Certified Chronometer" as on the 6542. The new legend came about because the watch was now powered by the new 1565 calibre which featured the free sprung "Micro Stella" balance; this new base calibre (1530) was capable of much greater accuracy than the earlier movements and was subsequently fitted into all Rolex models.

Although the watch had been made to a Pan-Am requirement many other pilots came to depend on the watch; particularly military pilots who kept the rotating bezel at “12”, thereby enabling the watch to give them both civilian and military (or 24 hour) time. Amongst the pilots who came to rely on the GMT Masters were the cadre of probably the finest (certainly the bravest) pilots in the world; those chosen by NASA to fly the North American X 15. The history of the X-15 deserves more than a throwaway paragraph; so I have taken the liberty of quoting from NASA's official history below.

An unofficial motto of flight research of the 1940s and 1950s was "higher and faster." By the late 1950s the last frontier of that goal was hypersonic flight (Mach 5+) to the edge of space. It would require a huge leap in aeronautical technology, life support systems and flight planning. The North American X-15 rocket plane was built to meet that challenge. It was designed to fly at speeds up to Mach 6, and altitudes up to 250,000 ft. The aircraft went on to reach a maximum speed of Mach 6.7 and a maximum altitude of 354,200 ft. Looking at it another way, Mach 6 is about one mile per second, and flight above 265,000 ft. qualifies an Air Force pilot for astronaut wings. The plane was air launched by NASA's converted B-52 at 45,000 feet and a speed of 500 mph. Generally there were two types of flight profiles: high-speed, or high-altitude. High-speed flights were usually done below an altitude of 100,000 feet and flown as a conventional aeroplane using aerodynamic controls. High-altitude flights began with a steep, full-power climb to leave the atmosphere, followed by up to two minutes of "coasting up" to the peak altitude after the engine was shut down. "Weightless" flight would last for 2 - 5 minutes as it made a ballistic arc before re-entering the atmosphere. A reaction control system was used to maintain attitude above the atmosphere. The reaction controls employed hydrogen peroxide thrusters located on the nose and wings. A typical research flight lasted about 10 or 11 minutes while covering nearly 400 miles along a course that stretched from Smith Ranch, Nevada to Edwards Air Force Base. The X-15 program made many accomplishments; here is list of some of its contributions to space flight:

First use of a full-pressure suit for spaceflight.

First use of reaction controls for manoeuvring in space.

First use of a flight control system that automatically blended aerodynamic and reaction controls.

Development of thermal protection for hypersonic re-entry.

Development of the first large, restartable, and throttleable rocket engine.

Development of an inertial guidance system.

Demonstration of a pilot's ability to operate in "micro-gravity".

Demonstration of the first piloted re-entry-to-landing from space.

Acquisition of hypersonic acoustic measurements, which influenced structural design criteria for Mercury capsule.

Verification of the validity of hypersonic wind tunnel data, which were later used in the design of the Space Shuttle.

One of those pilots, Pete Knight, wrote the following to Rolex after one flight. “I finally flew on October 3, 1967 to a speed of 4,534 mph (7,269 kph) or Mach 6.72 and all systems functioned properly with the exception of some local heating damage on the lower ventral. I have been wearing my Rolex GMT-Master for a period of months now and have calibrated it to within a few seconds a day” The throwaway phrases “Mach 6.72” and “some local heating damage on the lower ventral” disguised the real facts. Knight had flown the X-15 to a world record speed that still stands over 30 years later and had brought the plane home after temperatures later determined to have been above 1650°C (3000°F) burned a ramjet engine off its pylon and seared a hole measuring 18 by 8 centimetres into the ventral fin's leading edge. An airscoop effect channelled hot air into the lower fuselage and damaged the propellant jettison system meaning that Knight eventually had to land the plane 680 kilograms heavier than planned because he could not jettison the residual fuel. If the heat had damaged the craft's hydraulics, Knight might have had to abandon the plane. Fortunately, that did not happen. Knight landed at Edwards Air Force Base with the plane resembling burnt firewood. It seems amazing that the plane made it and even more so that despite acceleration of more than 3.5G the Rolex GMT Master on his wrist also performed perfectly. The other X-15 pilots also wrote to Rolex about their watches but the story of Pete Knight’s final flight is perhaps the most interesting.

It is worth noting that while Knight wore a Rolex GMT Master on his world record flight he was following in the grand tradition of Edwards Air Force Base, for it was there in 1947 that Chuck Yeager first broke the “Sound Barrier” in a Bell X-1 and did so wearing a Rolex Oyster; the same one he had worn all through World War II.

The company perceived the GMT almost solely as a pilot’ watch the 1960’s brochure for the watch even included the following instructions for pilots in how to use the watch as an emergency compass. "In the Northern Hemisphere the Rolex GMT-Master may also be used as a compass. Simply point the hour hand towards the sun and automatically the red 24-hour hand will point to the North! Try it...! In the Southern Hemisphere it will point to the South." Whilst it had been the introduction of the Boeing 707 that had caused Pan Am to commission the GMT Master, it was the people who flew on them as passengers who became the main customers for the watch. With the introduction of jet travel, many people were now travelling between countries and of course between time zones. For these new international travellers the GMT Master was the answer to their prayers; however it was the use by these people which was the impetus for the next changes in the GMT Master. The fact was that anyone rich enough to travel by aeroplane in the 1960s was rich enough to afford a gold (not a steel) watch; and so in answer to this demand Rolex began to make the GMT Master in both 18k gold and in two tone. Interestingly the gold version came first and used the (by now) retired model number 6442 and was "shoulderless" whilst the new two tone version retained the same model number as before (1675) but both were distinguished by their new brown coloured dials and bezels; these watches first hit the market in late 1963. A little known fact is that these brown dial GMT Masters were the very first Rolex watches to have the luminous indices inside gold circles; a feature now seen on all Rolex sport watches. Probably as little known is the fact that the metal circles on the dials of steel watches are actually white gold, not steel.

As I said before; the concept of the GMT Master was so perfect that there was almost no need for different versions and models; the word “almost” is used because there was one variation of the GMT Master, but one that no-one sees as a GMT Master; that variation is the Explorer II. The only difference between the GMT Master and the Explorer II is that the Explorer II has a fixed bezel, whilst the GMT Master has a revolving one; the Explorer II is the only other Rolex model to use the calibre 1575 movement. Because the Explorer II offered only civilian and military time, rather than two time zones, it proved much less useful to customers and so never sold as widely as the GMT Master. Ironically, it is this relative unpopularity that has made the Explorer II one of the rarest and collectable of all 1970’s Rolex models. The design philosophy behind Rolex was always one of gradual improvement of an existing product, rather than changing the complete watch, as many other makers would do. We see this process perfectly when we examine the small, incremental changes to the GMT Master in the 70’s and 80’s. Firstly from around 1976 the “hack” seconds feature was added and seven or eight years later the “quick-set” date feature arrived. Both of these features are interesting in that they were designed to make the watch easier to use and also that both of them increase the perceived accuracy of the watch; because if it is easy to synchronise the watch to a known time signal, then it is just as easy to compare it to any subsequent time signal. Similarly if the hands do not have to be moved to change the date on months without 31 days then the accuracy of the watch can be maintained without re-setting the time.

At the end of the 1980s the 1675 was replaced by two new models; the direct replacement was the model 16700 GMT Master which was the first steel GMT Master to be available with white gold circular settings for its luminous hour markers. The new introduction was the [16760]16710 GMT Master II, this watch used the new calibre 3085 movement which allowed the hour hand to be moved forward or backwards in precise one hour jumps, this feat could be performed without losing the precise accuracy which was usually the reason the watch was bought in the first place. The new GMT Master II was available in all metal combinations, whilst the 16700 GMT Master was only available in steel. Despite the introduction of many watches by various other manufacturers; all of which claim to be the aviator’s watch, the reality is that the GMT Master remains the ultimate timepiece for pilots and all those whose lifestyle requires knowledge of multiple time zones, no matter whether it is for international telephone calls or intercontinental travel.
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Old 2 July 2008, 05:09 AM   #2
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What about the R167533 Root Beer with Jubilee band and no locking clasp with two tone colors on the bezel and Acrylic crystal....sounds like nobody likes my watch...nobody ever bought one? Hey, that could be a good thing !....I bought it 1987.
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Old 2 July 2008, 09:43 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by temptones1 View Post
What about the R167533 Root Beer with Jubilee band and no locking clasp with two tone colors on the bezel and Acrylic crystal....sounds like nobody likes my watch...nobody ever bought one? Hey, that could be a good thing !....I bought it 1987.
I like yours and mine.

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Old 2 July 2008, 10:11 AM   #4
-Subsevens
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Larry, as always a very informative and educational thread..
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Old 13 July 2008, 08:23 AM   #5
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GMT movements

In the GMT-Master link above, it states that the GMT started with the 6202 "Turn-O-Graph" 1030 movement, with a 24 hour hand added. I have a GMT 6542 IV 1958 with the 1030 movement and just posted in "Rolex Watch Gallery" about a coincidence of seeing another GMT 6542 IV 1958 for sale on ebay with a serial # only 38 points different from mine. I speculated that they must have been made on the same day. However, going back and looking at the photo of the movement, it clearly shows a 1040 movement instead of a 1030. I wonder if the watchmakers simply grabbed a watchcase from a bin at random and started assembly without going in a chronological order? Since one watch had a serial # of 4271XX and the other 4271XX only 38 points different it seems odd that they had different movements. Someone knowledgeable please comment.
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Old 13 July 2008, 05:03 PM   #6
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larry you missed out the rectangle dial font variation..
Attached Images
File Type: jpg C-OysterPerpetualDate2.jpg (18.0 KB, 23129 views)
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Old 14 July 2008, 12:04 AM   #7
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Thanks, Larry. I love every variation of the historic GMT.
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Old 14 July 2008, 06:45 AM   #8
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Here's an interesting variation of the 1675. Known as the "mini-dial" or Radial dial, This dial was used on some GMTs during the mid-70s. Dating is always chancy at best with Rolex variations, but some feel this dial was used circa 1975 or so till about 1978-79 on some pieces.

Note the smaller indices along with the slightly larger markers at 6 and 9. The variation also used a bit longer coronet.

Photo from a vintage web site--credit Bob Maron,

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Old 25 August 2008, 10:55 AM   #9
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I am learning so much from this forum, I knw a flea market close by where theyre is a turn o graph style watch there. Guy thinks it is a fake. I did to until now. will have to scope it out see what it actually is
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Old 25 August 2008, 10:59 AM   #10
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Larry, thanks for that post, great information, sure to keep me up most of the night searching for another gmt....
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Old 4 September 2008, 11:53 AM   #11
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I am a major (minor?) newbie here. So, forewarned - here is my question. It's about the dials. I have a 17650 GMT purchased in 1986 in Switzerland. I now understand it is a 'transition model' (thanks to this forum). I note that most of the watches pictured have text at the 6 o'clock position. Some say 'Swiss T< 25' some say 'Swiss Made'. Mine says only 'Swiss'. What - if any - is the relevance of this?
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Old 4 September 2008, 06:18 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by feather View Post
I am a major (minor?) newbie here. So, forewarned - here is my question. It's about the dials. I have a 17650 GMT purchased in 1986 in Switzerland. I now understand it is a 'transition model' (thanks to this forum). I note that most of the watches pictured have text at the 6 o'clock position. Some say 'Swiss T< 25' some say 'Swiss Made'. Mine says only 'Swiss'. What - if any - is the relevance of this?
Sounds like a service replacement luminova dial. Does it glow?
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Old 5 September 2008, 10:49 AM   #13
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Does it ever! It glows in the daylight. I just had it returned from Rolex NYC where they did a significant amount of work. Nice call. So should I ask for the old dial back? I must say, it does look good... but has the value of the watch decreased>
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Old 5 September 2008, 03:00 PM   #14
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Mike,

What do you make of all these dial variations? Is there a rhyme or reason to it? What do you suppose is going on at the factory? Are they just making it up as they go along?

With so many watches and so many variations, it's difficult to perceive any pattern or method.

Mark



Quote:
Originally Posted by mike View Post
Here's an interesting variation of the 1675. Known as the "mini-dial" or Radial dial, This dial was used on some GMTs during the mid-70s. Dating is always chancy at best with Rolex variations, but some feel this dial was used circa 1975 or so till about 1978-79 on some pieces.

Note the smaller indices along with the slightly larger markers at 6 and 9. The variation also used a bit longer coronet.

Photo from a vintage web site--credit Bob Maron,

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Old 5 September 2008, 07:19 PM   #15
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Does it ever! It glows in the daylight. I just had it returned from Rolex NYC where they did a significant amount of work. Nice call. So should I ask for the old dial back? I must say, it does look good... but has the value of the watch decreased>
It's not RSCs policy to return parts. (Boy this is a topic that lights fires.)

As to value...a collector will say any departure from originality impacts the watch. However; if the original dial was gloss/trit. as opposed to matt trit. not as much IMO.
As a functional piece however, the watch is now 100%.
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Old 5 September 2008, 07:28 PM   #16
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Mike,

What do you make of all these dial variations? Is there a rhyme or reason to it? What do you suppose is going on at the factory? Are they just making it up as they go along?

With so many watches and so many variations, it's difficult to perceive any pattern or method.

Mark
Mark,

This was a time when Rolex received there dials from several sources, Stern, Bryeler, and Singer among the top three. A lot of variation occured as it seems Rolex only applied the luminating compound. Hands were also sourced from different places as well.
The one that has always given me fits is the tremendous variation in coronets.
Even today as Rolex tightens controll on parts and sourcing we see subtle variations, sometimes within the same letter series.
Drives collector's nuts!!
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Old 6 September 2008, 12:32 AM   #17
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I am coming to appreciate what many on TRF have already noted, i.e., Rolex is a great watch, very robust, but perhaps not very refined. By that I mean that the eyes and expectations of many TRF-ers are more refined than the watches we so enjoy.

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Mark,

This was a time when Rolex received there dials from several sources, Stern, Bryeler, and Singer among the top three. A lot of variation occured as it seems Rolex only applied the luminating compound. Hands were also sourced from different places as well.
The one that has always given me fits is the tremendous variation in coronets.
Even today as Rolex tightens controll on parts and sourcing we see subtle variations, sometimes within the same letter series.
Drives collector's nuts!!
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Old 17 December 2008, 05:53 AM   #18
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Dial variations GMT II

When the GMT II was introduced in 1983 it only showed "Oyster Perpetual" on the face. There are thus two variations of the 16760 with this first variation lasting only about a year around 1983 and 1984. The addition of "Date" probably came in late 1985. Larry, I believe these are the only two variations of the black/red "Fat Lady" produced from 1983 to 1988. I bought mine new in 1986, but was only aware a couple of weeks ago that I have a 1984 version 1, which seems to be fairly rare.
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Old 17 December 2008, 02:02 PM   #19
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Thank you Larry, there can never be too much information out for this great watch
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Old 17 December 2008, 06:27 PM   #20
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Thanks for sharing Larry.
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Old 29 April 2009, 11:05 AM   #21
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Excellent! thank you
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Old 30 May 2009, 01:53 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tools View Post
Insert sizing:
The 1675/16750 ...............have an I.D. of 30.2 and an O.D. of 27.75mm
The 16700/16760/16710.... have an I.D. of 30.7 and an O.D. of 37.65mm
I think there is a typo there.

Edit by Tools: good catch, corrected to 37.75mm.........
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Old 2 August 2009, 01:00 PM   #23
ojaiacura
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Thanks, great information
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Old 15 August 2009, 04:16 AM   #24
niconyc
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Thanks Larry, such a great series of images on the best Rolex ever!
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Old 19 September 2009, 10:37 PM   #25
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Thank for the links Larry! very instructive
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Old 20 September 2009, 03:02 PM   #26
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Great stuff Larry
Thanks
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Old 21 September 2009, 12:30 AM   #27
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Awesome! Thanks Larry - I just picked up a 16710 A today, and this link has answered A LOT of my questions.
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Old 23 December 2009, 06:00 AM   #28
CBG1
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I have a question about the Y serials and their cases ... I see some with holes and some without. I am confused in my searches about the definitive answer and curious about the GMT-II's from that year, where some had the holes and some without. Is this the case, that there are Y's with and without? Is one more desirable (I know this is subjective, but in the case of the ever varying GMT, is there one more clear favorite?) Also, Is there a dimensional difference in the case/lugs, or is it purely cosmetic drilling vs. none?
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Old 23 December 2009, 06:25 AM   #29
JJ Irani
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CBG1 View Post
I have a question about the Y serials and their cases ... I see some with holes and some without. I am confused in my searches about the definitive answer and curious about the GMT-II's from that year, where some had the holes and some without. Is this the case, that there are Y's with and without? Is one more desirable (I know this is subjective, but in the case of the ever varying GMT, is there one more clear favorite?) Also, Is there a dimensional difference in the case/lugs, or is it purely cosmetic drilling vs. none?
Thanks,
Adam
(soon to be GMT-II owner ...)
Most of the Y-serials would have the lug-holes. These holes slowly started to disappear from the very end of the Y-series......Y-9XXXXX.

JJ
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Old 24 December 2009, 08:41 AM   #30
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Absolute fab post , thank you larry ! I did spend some time reading up on GMT's as soon I decided to get one , but I have learnt more in this single post and the links then all the time I spent searching the net myself . Again , thank you . That is TRF at its best !
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