Welcome to our Rolex NoteWorthy series! The next two watches we’re reviewing are the Rolex GMT-Master and Rolex GMT-Master II, both based on Rolex’s highly successful and innovative multiple time-zone aviator watch.
Rolex GMT-Master Review & History
The ultimate in travel timepieces when it was introduced back in the 1950’s, the GMT- Master featured the red and blue colors of Pan Am airlines, with whom Rolex worked to develop this ground-breaking dual time-zone GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) pilot watch. The dual color was used for an easier indication of day versus night. It was the one of the first watches that could tell the time in two different time zones , a valuable feature for Pan Am’s busy pilots who used it as their go-to on-board navigation chronometer. It was a superb innovation at the time. The original GMT-Master (16700) was phased out in the late 90s as consumers started looking for updated functionality.
Rolex GMT- Master II Review & History
The GMT-Master II (16710) was in production until 2008 and replaced with the GMT-Master II (116710), reflecting Rolex’s ongoing mandate to introduce a constant flow of new design and technological refinements to the original watch. The new version added the Maxi-case and a patented Cerachrom bezel, impervious to scratches and harder than steel. The Mono-block Cerachrom bezel is created by a unique, patented process that begins with ceramic, adding an additional color while still porous. It is actually one piece of ceramic, not two colored pieces joined in the middle; Rolex is the only brand in the world able to produce it. In addition to conventional hour, minute and seconds hands, the GMT Master II features an arrow tipped hand which circles the dial once every 24 hours. To use the GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) feature the bezel marker is moved to 12 o’clock and the hour hand is changed to the current time zone. The minutes move with the GMT hand when the crown is unscrewed and pulled two positions, and the hour hand moves when the crown is in the first positon. The GMT Master II is an officially certified Swiss chronometer (COSC) with an oyster case, monobloc middle case, screw-down case back and winding crown. It features a bio-directional 24 rotatable bezel with engraved numerals and graduations, Parachrom bleu hairspring, Breuguet overcoil and Rolex caliber 3186 movement. 904L stainless steel models come with a black dial (lunette noire) only for superior visibility.
Special Rolex GMT- Master II Bezel Colors
Two highly collectible and immensely popular bezel colors on the GMT- Master II are red/ black (also known as the Coke bezel) and blue/red (the Pepsi bezel). A new blue/black bezel color on the GMT-Master II was introduced at Baselworld in 2013. An immediate hit, it was dubbed by international watch aficionados and collectors as the “Batman” or “Bruiser” watch in honor of its special coloration. Other bezel and precious metals case and bracelet combinations include plain black with 904L stainless steel, steel and gold, 18 carat gold and a combination steel and gold. The gold GMT- Master II comes with a choice of either a black or green dial with a black Cerachrom bezel.
GMT-Master & GMT Master II Reference Numbers & Dates
Ref. 6542 (aka Pussy Galore) – 1954-1959
Ref. 1675 -1959-1980
Ref. 16750 -1981-1988
Ref. 16760 (aka Fat Lady, aka Sophia Loren) – 1983-1988
Ref. 16710 – 1989-2007
Ref. 116710 116710 LN, 116713 LN, 116718, 116758– 2007 – present
Current retail (MSRP): $8,450 (SS), $13,000 (TT), $33,250 (solid gold)
Rolex GMT- Master NoteWorthy Facts:
- In the 1964 James Bond movie “Goldfinger,” the character Pussy Galore, played by Honor Blackman, wore a Ref. 6542 GMT- Master, earning the watch its nickname.
- The Ref. 16760 premiered in 1983 as the first GMT Master II. Because of its extra thick case, it is also known as the Fat Lady. The watch was only offered in steel with a red/black bezel and oversized crown guards.
Rolex GMT – Master and GMT – Master II NoteWorthy Owners:
- Iconic artist Pablo Picasso often wore a GMT-Master
- Mel Gibson wore a Pepsi GMT -Master II in the 1990 movie “Air America”
- Actor Hugh Laurie is often seen with his GMT – Master II
If you are looking to expand your collection and buy a Rolex watch, it is important that you know how to spot a fake Rolex, and make sure that you buy a genuine certified watch.