Last Saturday during the Chrono24 GTG in Karlsruhe (you’ll find our event report here) my attention was drawn to a Rolex GMT-Master in steel and gold. One way or the other, Robert-Jan and myself spoke about this watch on our way to the GTG (a 5-hour drive). And you know what happens next. You’ll mention that some attendants to the GTG actually have this watch with them.
In the early seventies, the steel and gold 16753 version was an addition to the stainless-steel and full-gold models of the Rolex GMT-Master. The steel and gold version became available with a black dial and rotating GMT-bezel, as well with a brown dial and gold-brown colored bezel. It’s the latter this 52Mondayz article is about.
While most Rolex sports watches have black dials, a brown dial quite stands out from the crowd. And that is something which attracts to me, one way or the other. This brown dial as well is the reason for this watch’ nickname, ‘Root Beer’. The color of the dial obviously resembles the color of root beer in that time.
And if one nickname isn’t enough, the Rolex GMT-Master 16753 can be found as well under the names of ‘Tiger Eye’ (or Tiger Auge in German), and even ‘Clint Eastwood’. Certainly, the two-colored bezel has more or less the same colors as can be found in Tiger Eye stones. And the 16753 seems, or seemed, to be Clint Eastwood’s favorite watch. Except often off-stage, it could be seen on his wrist in the 1982 Cold War film Firefox as well.
The last thing I want to mention on nicknames is about the index markers. Most of the brown dialed Rolex GMT-Master 16753’s you’ll find have thicker and higher (golden) indexes than regular Rolex sports models. Dials with these slightly cone-shaped high thick index markers are often, well always, referred to as ‘nipple dials’. The watch I’m wearing this week, however, has a later produced service dial with regular ring-shaped index markers. Although the name of the other indexes, of course, attracts more towards them, the regular ring-shaped indexes look very good and are actually harder to find.
The Rolex GMT-Master 16753, like the 16750, is considered a ‘transitional’ model. This means that the casing, plexiglass, and dial are equal to the former 1675 models. However, a newer type movement has been used. The older GMT-Masters had a Rolex Caliber 1570 caliber. The 16753’s contains the then new higher beat 3075 movement with a convenient quickset date.
If you like it like I do, yes, why not. However, buying a Rolex GMT-Master 16753 is like buying any other vintage Rolex. Entering a snake-pit. You’ll hardly ever know for sure if the watch you’re looking at is ex-factory original. So many specialists will advise you, often un-asked for. They exactly ‘know’ everything about your watch, and how it should be.
My advice is to stay real. If you’re not out for the 1% of these watches which are still untouched and ex-factory original, don’t bother too much. Assure yourself that all parts are original Rolex parts, be it from the date the watch was produced, or original service parts replaced by Rolex or one of their service centers. If a vintage watch has been good taken care of in the past, parts should have been replaced. If not, quite a few of them are worn out and should be considered broken by this time.
And then just pay an adequate price, not an overprice. Look for an honest example which attracts to you, and pay a price a steel and gold Rolex watch should cost. A Rolex GMT-Master 16753, in the condition of the one I’m wearing, can be found for around € 6.000,= at the time of writing. Which I consider a fair price for such a beautiful and high-quality watch.
Gerard has been in the watch industry for over two decades now. He owned a watch shop in The Hague, The Netherlands, and besides that he has journalistic and photographic activities in the field of watches. Collecting watches since he... read more