Rolex 1675 GMT-Master Co-Branded Dials
The brand’s aviation-themed second-generation timepiece, the ref. 1675 GMT-Master, had a long and illustrious life. Released in 1959, it remained outstanding until 1980; its prolific production period of over 20 years made it one of the easiest vintage Rolex watches to find. It is often the gateway to the world of vintage Rolex sports watch collecting.
However, not all GMT-Master 1675 reference watches are created equal. Yes, there are differences in dial finish, crown guard shape and movement numbering. But beyond that, there are many Rolex GMT-Master 1675 models with co-branded dials on the vintage market.
These unusual examples are relics of an era when Rolex allowed other companies to stamp their watch dials. Interestingly, some of these companies did not survive bankruptcy, acquisitions or rebrands; however, the Rolex watches that bear their names still exist. Join us as we explore the origins of the Rolex co-branded watch and highlight the special GMT-Master 1675 with the co-branded dial.
In the early 1900s, the young Wilsdorf & Davis company (later Rolex) made a name for itself by producing unbranded watches for jewelers. Jewelers are then free to stamp their logo and sell the watch as their own. The practice ended in the 1920s, when Hans Wilsdorf vowed to have his company name and now-famous crown emblem emblazoned on every Rolex watch.
However, until the 1990s, some of the company’s iconic models bore the name of a famous jeweler, such as Tiffany or Asprey, next to the Rolex name, denoting the famous store that sold these treasures.
Likewise, Rolex has created co-branded watches for certain entities, as unique gifts or in recognition of noteworthy deeds. The givers of these gifts range from Middle Eastern royalty and the military to top professionals. For example, French commercial diving specialist Compagnie Maritime d’ Expertises ordered custom Rolex Submariner and Wave watches with the COMEX logo on the dial for its diving fleet. Not surprisingly, in today’s market, the COMEX brand of Rolex watches are highly collectible.
Itâ€™s hard to imagine now given how unique and protected the crown has become, but by the mid-20th century, Rolex was actively promoting its commercial branding services. There’s even an old-fashioned advert promoting the Rolex Service Awards program and proudly saying it. “Fake Rolex watches are your most reliable corporate choice.” Rolex clearly wanted to capitalize on the era’s tradition of service awards. Let’s not forget that for a certain generation, a fine watch – especially a Rolex – is the ultimate thank you to their employer.
As a result, some well-known retailers have given away Rolex watches bearing the company logo to their best performing and most loyal employees. Supermarket giant Winn-Dixie is one example, and of course, who can forget the infamous Domino’s Pizza Air-King that gave store managers up to $25,000 a week for four weeks in a row? Coca-Cola, known for rewarding executives with 25 years of service, has its own co-branded product.
Combining the logo of a mass-market company (selling groceries, pizza, and soda) with one of the world’s most extravagant names, these unusual double-print dials are a juxtaposition that will make anyone stop and take a second look.