We never have secrets about our all-consuming love affair with the Rolex GMT-Master series. So when a very nice vintage watch comes through our doors, we’re going to close it.
The subject today is just such a fake watch. If you were to make a list of everything a vintage Rolex collector looks for in the great early GMT-Master, this one checks each box.
It was the second generation of the GMT-Master family, having replaced the initial watch, made popular in that greatest of all Bond movies, Gold finger. This model had a long run, starting life in 1959 and finally being granted a well-earned retirement 21 years later in 1980.
It was this replica that introduced crown guards to the series and also replaced the original’s fragile Bakelite bezel with an all new aluminum insert—two testaments to the fake Rolex‘s dedication in making their aviator’s watch sturdy enough to wear as a stylish daily beater.
The story of the GMT’s origin is well known; made in conjunction with Pan Am, it was made with its distinctive two-tone bezel and extra 24-hour hand to help the airline’s pilots cope with changing time zones as they flew the new, longer transatlantic routes. The joy in vintage watch collecting is in finding a piece with real character. For the Rolexes, designed above everything else to be functional tools and the wearer’s constant companion, whose personality is written in the aging of the watch’s coloring.
However, it’s not simply the age-faded bezel that makes this such a particular example of one of Rolex’s finest. Made in 1963, it is also complete with the minutiae that cause brand purists to go all misty-eyed; what can be described as a Mark 1 model, before any of the pertinent little details were swapped or updated.
For example, the pointed crown guards, given the nickname El Cornino from the Italian for ‘horns’, were superseded two years later by more rounded replacements. That short production run gives these replica watches an enviable scarcity value, made even better by the rather light wear the guards have received. Many examples of GMTs of this era have suffered from over polishing, eroding their distinctive shape.
At the very first beginning, the replica Rolex used glossy dials across all of their sports collection before making the switch to matte. The gilt face on our example features the chapter ring specific to the earliest models, as well as the once gold lettering and hour markers turning the distinguishing cream color of all vintage Rolexes.