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Why is a faded Rolex GMT Master bezel so valuable?

Many amateurs assume that a watch is only as valuable as the actual condition of it. In general, this assumption is correct, because if you have your watch serviced more often, you can also ask for higher prices. In the case of bezels and dials, however, the fading or the patina is not a defect in their beauty, it is rather a sign of the authenticity of the timepieces, which verifies them as vintage models. Collectors spend a lot of money on these models. This phenomenon is particularly noticeable with the Rolex GMT-Master ref. 1675.  

Rolex GMT-Master 16750 with faded bezel and Jubilee bracelet on black background

The ref. 1675 was released in 1959 and some optical changes were made within the series, which started in 1954 with the ref. 6542. For the first time Rolex gave those watches in the series crown protectors and also the dial was modified with a change. The first models still had shiny dials, but later on Rolex used matt dials. What remained was the Pepsi-bezel with the red and blue inserts, which at that time referred to the company colours of Pan-Am Airline. In the 70s, Rolex launched a model whose bezel was all black. Other variations had bezels in brown, brown / gold and blue. The Ref. 1675 was produced until 1980 and then replaced by the ref. 16750. This phenomenon can also be observed on Pepsi ref. 16710, whereas this model can also be bought with a Coke bezel in black and red.

Close-up of a faded Coke bezel of a GMT-Master II 16710

Why do the bezels fade after all?

The crucial factor is that Rolex used aluminium inserts until 2007. With the redesign of the GMT-Master II in 2007, ceramic bezels became the new standard. These ceramic bezels prevent the bezels from fading. What increases the collector’s value of references like the Rolex 1675 is the fact that the production of the dials was not uniform, which left room for small changes. In practice, this means that inlays made during the same period can still develop a completely different colour.

Rolex GMT-Master 16750 with faded bezel and Oyster bracelet on black background


On top of this, there are external factors: a bezel that has been in contact with salt water more often looks different from a bezel that has been exposed to sunlight. The rotation of the bezel also plays a role, because a GMT-Master that was often used will fade faster than a GMT-Master that remained safely in a safe. The combinations of colours resulting from this are manifold. The red of the Pepsi bezel can unfold from pastel to pink and fuchsia to magenta. The blue part, however, can be soft grey or rich aquamarine. The black bezel can also bleed out into blue or become a metallic shimmering grey.

Naturalness is the key

Close-up of a faded Pepsi bezel of a GMT-Master 16750

The most important thing for collectors is that these colours have developed naturally. To repeat: These models are so popular because they confirm the authenticity of a vintage model. However, the market is so fiercely competitive and the prices that these models can achieve are so high that some counterfeiters try to create the effect by chemical reactions. The „baking“ of bezels in an oven is not uncommon too. If you are not sure whether a bezel has a natural look or not, you can always consult a certified dealer. At Watchmaster, for example, there are several master watchmakers who validate the authenticity of all the models we receive so that you can always feel safe when you decide to buy them.