The Steinhart Ocean Vintage GMT is an homage of a Rolex watch, of which you might have never heard before: The Rolex Explorer II ref. 1655. In this post I’d like to go a little deeper into the 1970’s Rolex design, Steinharts’ adaptation and interpretation of it and show you the best strap combinations for your Steinhart Vintage GMT.
The GMT complication is among my personal favorites of all kind of watches, which does not exclude Explorer style watches, with a fixed bezel and its 24h hand, in fact rather the opposite. I’ve always been fascinated by the distinctive orange GMT/24h hand of the vintage Rolex Explorer II ref. 1655 nicknamed “freccione” (Italian for : “arrow”) from the 1970’s. The 1655 (1971 to 1984/85) is so different to everything you know from Rolex, especially when you compare it to models like the GMT-Master II 1675 or Datejust 1601 from this period. When I saw it for the first time, I couldn’t even believe that it’s a Rolex and with my affection for 60s/70s product design it caught my attention at first sight; The large orange GMT-, the straight white hour- and minute hands, the special minute, hour indications and the fixed stainless steel bezel.
"This watch just screams “1970’s” and I love that."
But as most vintage and rare Rolex watches, you need to pay around $20-50k for a fully original 1655. Why do I emphasize “fully original”? After the production expired in 1984/85 and was replaced by the ref. 16550, the prices jumped. As a result, some people took the much cheaper Ref. 16550, which visually resembles the penultimate Explorer II Ref. 16570, with spare parts from Ref. 1655 (dial, bezel, pointer set, date disc) from Ref. 16550 to build a Ref. 1655 and have then sold them for expensive money. These conversions are “real Rolex watches”, but they are “Frankenstein watches” and yet “fake 1655″.
Steinharts’ homage of the Rolex 1655
The Steinhart Ocean Vintage GMT represents the perfect quality homage of that certain 70’s watch design. The Steinhart costs a fraction of the price of a vintage Rolex 1655 and yet it offers a surprisingly good quality and proven Swiss ETA/Sellita movement. Design and measurements were changed in a way, that the Steinhart does not represent a “copy”, but an “homage”, with in my opinion improved design elements; The classic Steinhart Ocean case has a diameter of 42 mm and 22 mm lug width, where the Rolex is 2 mm smaller in both. Hour- and minute hands are larger on the Vintage GMT, while the orange GMT/24h hand was reshaped in a very harmonic and in my opinion better way.
So, now to the burning question: Is it OK to wear an homage watch? First of all a (fully) original 1655 (and not a “Frankenstein 16550″) is hard to get and costs around $20-50k. I’d rather buy two modern Explorer II ref. 216570 with a black or white dial, and I’d still have enough spare money for an everose GMT Master II. – Secondly: This watch is so special, only a true watch enthusiast like one of us could mistake it for a 1655 Rolex. Maybe you are seeing it for the first time yourself, like many others who didn’t know the existence of the 1655 until they’ve seen its homage. If someone would come to me and say “wow is that a Rolex 1655?” I could be sure that I’ve found a worthy discussion partner and invite him for a beer.
Steinhart Ocean Vintage GMT Strap Guide
Military Style: Canvas strap
A Canvas Strap gives your Steinhart Ocean Vintage GMT the perfect military style, that this tool watch deserves, no matter if you’re deployed to the desert (beige) or the jungle (green), if you’re armored- (grey/black) or navy personnel (blue). Our WatchBandit Original Canvas Straps are made from high quality and durable cotton (90%) and viscose (10%). Our Canvas strap can be perfectly adjusted, even for big wrists, due to its 10 adjustment holes. With an 18 cm / 7 inch wrist, you’re in the 5th hole of the strap when the watch is on your wrist. Most canvas straps have a layer of leather on the inside of the strap, but we have renounced it because leather won’t last as long as a canvas when it’s exposed to sweat and water.
Two-Piece- / Single-Piece NATO Straps
The classic NATO- and two-piece NATO straps by WatchBandit Original are the perfect watch straps for a modern adventure-styled Steinhart Ocean Vintage GMT, for example the Black & Orange two-piece or -classic NATO. It dries fast, keeps in shape and is very robust, while it keeps its comfort due soft nylon fabrics. The two-piece NATO is for those who aren’t a fan of the classic NATO strap, but enjoy the comfort and style of the seatbelt-nylon-fabric. The buckle made from brushed 316L stainless steel and has the same brushed finish, as the GMT watch case. If you want to learn more about NATO straps, make sure to check out our Blog-post: All you need to know about NATO-Straps!
Our latest strap innovation is the WB Original Sailcloth strap. The special Cordura® nylon is very durable, waterproof and has a look and feel similar to canvas. To increase the comfort we chose to have an inner layer of genuine leather. While the Canvas strap is the ideal summer strap, the Sailcloth watch strap is perfect for the colder times of the year and suits the Steinhart GMT with its thicker watch case just right. Please note: When the strap is new, it’s hard and stiff; Just massage and twist the strap a little before the first wear to soften it, then it will go around your wrist perfectly.
Vintage- and Suede Leather straps
Suede- and Vintage Leather straps on a Steinhart sports watch are not everyone’s cup of tea, but it can look very casual, and underlines the vintage style of the Steinhart watch. With a leather strap on a vintage styled sports watch, you can wear it perfectly to a casual shirt or even suit.
Which strap size does my Steinhart Ocean Vintage GMT need?
For the Steinhart Ocean Vintage GMT you need a strap-width of 22 mm at the lugs, which is the most common lug width at Steinhart watches that have a 42mm case. Steinhart watches with 39 mm case diameter have a strap-width of 20 mm at the lugs- If you can’t find a leather strap in 20 mm, it is no problem to take a 21 mm strap instead; Even though there is a small size difference of 0,5 mm each side, leather and other soft materials are soft enough to fit your watch and the difference of 0,5 mm each side is not enough to make it looked squeezed. More about how to find out which strap size your watch needs here.
For a golden watch, you can pair your strap perfectly with our golden replacement buckle by WB Original.
How do I change the bracelet or strap on my Steinhart watch?
To change the bracelet of your Steinhart watch, you’ll need a spring bar tool that fits in the openings of the bracelet, for example the Bergeon 6767 spring bar tool.
Thank you for reading!
Photos were taken by @SteinhartWatchClub Thank you for the awesome pictures of our straps on your Steinhart Ocean Vintage GMT!