The Bezel and Insert

Bezel: The 1675 bezel comes in two forms. The early version has crenelations that span the entire vertical portion of the bezel and are seen on examples until ~1963. After this there is a later bezel with cut out portions that are not as deep and do not extend into the base of the bezel. Pictures are worth a thousand words on this one.

The bezel is bi-directional and rotates on a spring-based system. There is a flat shaped piece of metal (the tension spring) that sits under the bezel and holds the bezel/insert in place until the user places pressure down on the bezel to rotate. Unlike later models that incorporate a clicking mechanism, the rotation should be smooth. The bezel itself has an outer diameter of ~39.3 mm with two inner rings, the smaller of which is ~34.75 mm and the larger of which is ~35.15mm.


Picture Credit: HQ Milton


Insert: Generally, the inserts have an inner diameter of ~30.2 mm, an outer diameter of ~37.75 mm, and are ~0.7 mm thick. They should fit snugly into the bezel with a slight lip of bezel retained above it  (otherwise the outer edge of the insert would get dinged easily).

Red/Blue: For the standard Pan-Am or ‘pepsi’ style bezel, general period correct attributes should include a:

  • red back (not faded, which indicates bleaching)
  • flattened top half of the 8’s (these are circular on later blue backed inserts and aftermarket bezels)
  • 2’s that do not have an overhanging top (aftermarket ‘hooked’ or ‘overhanging’ 2’s are commonly seen)
  • small serifs throughout (with the exception of very fat fonts, which are likely lost with the wearing of the pad)

There are different mentions of what the 12 o’clock triangle should look like for the gilt era (wider triangle, dot in the middle) but I haven’t seen anything convincing. Some things that have been noted are: 1) that the fuchsia bezels seem to come from the later half of the 1960’s (both on the later gilts and early mattes), 2) the super fat font bezels (see the fourth picture below) are also from later half of the 60’s (think late gilt and early matte) up to near the 3 million range. Below are some nice examples and some aftermarket ones to compare to. Of note, they are not original to the watch if on a PCG case.

Blueberry: forthcoming.

Black: Black inserts, which can fade to a nice dark blue (and gain the ‘blackberry’ sobriquet), were produced starting around 1976. They have a black back and otherwise hold the same font characteristics as the red / blue bezels above. Some consider these to only be service bezels on the 1675 (available after 1976) but there is not consensus on this point. There is consensus that, when seen on earlier examples, they’ve likely been swapped in. As this is one of the fun parts of GMTs, it’s up to you what you consider to be essential to originality and what look you like.

Pictures


Rolex Red/Blue Bezels


Rolex Black Bezels


Rolex Blueberry Bezels


Fake Bezels


Picture Credit: Michael Morgan (1 & 3), HQ Milton (2, 4, 5, 7, 8)