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The History of the Rolex GMT-Master

Rolex GMT-Master I and GMT-Master II

Those who travel the world often have to keep an eye on a number of time zones. Originally developed for pilots, the Rolex GMT-Master has enjoyed increasing popularity with all those who travel frequently and cross time zones regularly. The timepiece has become one of the  favourites when it comes to the world of watch enthusiasts.

Rolex GMT-Master

The Rolex GMT-Master originated in the age of transcontinental flights.

During the 1950’s, airplanes began crossing several time zones within a short period of time. As a result, the need for a watch that enabled its wearer to keep an eye on concurrent time zones arose. Back then, it was the pilots who primarily needed to know the time for both departure and destination airports. Thus, Rolex launched the GMT-Master (Ref. 6542) in 1954, and from day one, it was the official wristwatch on board Pan Am flights. Some experts claim that the characteristic red and blue bezel was inspired by the colours of the legendary airline. For most, however, the colours of the so-called Pepsi-bezel represent the difference between day and night.

The GMT-Master has been a great success since the very beginning. To this day, the striking wristwatch enjoys great popularity not only among pilots, but among worldwide watch enthusiasts, business travellers, and collectors.

GMT-Master and GMT-Master II

The difference is in the details

In 1985, Rolex presented the new GMT-Master II. Among other things, new characteristics of the Ref. 16760 included the sapphire crystal and the black and red bezel. Additionally, the new GMT-Master allowed wearers to keep track of three time zones simultaneously since the new movement calibre 3085 permitted the independent adjustment of the twelve-hour hand.

For a period of time, both the GMT-Master and the GMT-Master II were part of the Rolex collection. Rolex regularly updated the product line with innovations and new colour combinations: bezels in black with yellow gold (Ref. 16713), black with white gold, (Ref. 116710) and also in the two-toned blue and black designs (Ref. 116710BLNR), which can now be found on the preowned market.

Today, Rolex exclusively manufactures the GMT-Master II. The distinctive watch stays true to the sporty elegant design of the GMT-Master line.

The current Rolex GMT-Master II watches are equipped with a patented Cerachrom bezel. Cerachrom is a special ceramic material that provides the distinctive GMT-bezel with robustness and allows the watch to be scratch proof. This newly-acquired robustness comes at a price: the Cerachrom models are evidently more costly than their predecessors. Those who can do without the ceramic bezel however, can opt for a used or new GMT-Master II with an aluminium bezel (e.g. Ref. 16700).

The GMT-Master II as well as its GMT-Master predecessor enjoy cult-status among Rolex aficionados. Currently, valuable discoveries can be found on the preowned market when it comes to the GMT-Master product line. Numerous collectors are in quest for rare colour combinations. But for many, the GMT-Master with the Ref. 1675 opens up the door to the exquisite world of vintage Rolex watches. This model, presented in 1959, is not particularly hard to find preowned and delights with comparatively smaller prices.

How can you get your hands on one?

Here at Edinburgh Watch Company, the Rolex GMT Master and GMT Master II are models we’re always on the lookout for. Not only are they  fantastic tool watches, they also incredibly stylish, regardless of which colour combination you choose.These watches are also robust and brilliantly functional, they also hold their value incredibly well.

With these watches being so desirable we always try our best to have a great selection of GMT’s.

As I write this post, we currently have 2 very stunning GMT Master II’s available and a few more coming in soon.

 In stock now:

The first is this absolutely mint condition 2009 GMT Master II , ref 116713. You can click here for more information on this stunning watch,

The second is a 2017 Rolex GMT Master II, ref 116710BLNR. The “Batman”. Again you can find out more by clicking here.

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