This Ref 1675 version from 1965 with the classic blue and red ‘Pepsi’ dial bezel, came for sale at British Bespoke Auctions (20% buyer’s premium) in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, with a great provenance.
As suggested by the ownership inscription to the case back, it previously belonged to Walter B Wentz, a military and civilian aviator who had the privilege of being on the Rolex ‘white list’, so that during his lifetime the watch was subject to service and repair at no cost.
Along with two Rolex boxes, two desk pads and Wentz’s identity cards, the watch was sold with a file of correspondence with Rolex Geneva including service receipts and letters. Extracts include (on April 2, 1974): “Your letter of 3 October 1972 asked me to test the new non-expanding bracelet you installed on my GMT Master. I have. It’s been used continually. Bracelet and watch have been diving in the Caribbean and Pacific, crashed several times in motorcycle spills in the California desert, and just generally given a bad time. Both worked perfectly.”
Although the watch had an estimate of £4000-6000, internet bidders pushed the start button at £11,000 before eight phone bidders, including those in Monaco and the US, helped the final price to £18,500.
Only a handful of GMTs have made more at auction.
There are two main types of the vintage GMT Master. The Ref 6542, known to collectors as the Pussy Galore as it was worn by Honor Blackman in Goldfinger, was made from 1954-59. The Ref 1675 was introduced in 1959 and was produced until 1980.