ROLEX GMT-MASTER II WATCHES
In the 1950’s, pilots needed a reliable on-board navigation chronometer capable of keeping track of Greenwich Mean Time. With this knowledge, Rolex developed the GMT-Master together with Pan Am and launched it in 1954. Keeping track of time in two time-zones can be useful for many business travelers and cross-country executives. The GMT-Master II was the first Rolex Model to adapt the ceramic bezel, tougher than steel and near impervious to scratches while additionally allowing easy navigation through time. However; maybe you want something different or new. The GMT-Master II can be customized with changes to the bezel or dial for a fresh new look!
Rolex GMT-Master II Watches by Dial Color & Material:
Introduced in 1954, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date GMT-Master is a travel watch with a rich history. Although it has tended to attract less attention than models like the Submariner and Daytona, the GMT-Master has slowly emerged as one of the most popular Rolex models of all and enjoys a strong reputation among collectors.
Originally designed for use by pilots and navigators, the defining feature of the model is its rotatable bezel, complete with a 24-hour scale, enabling wearers to keep track of multiple time zones at the same time. Here, we take a more detailed look at the history of the GMT-Master and the collection's most important references.
The first Rolex GMT-Master
The launch of the GMT-Master came in response to the increasing amount of long-distance air travel that began to emerge during the 1940s and 1950s. Indeed, the first GMT-Master, Reference 6542, was designed in collaboration with Pan American Airways and was issued to their crew for use on long-haul slights. In terms of its design, the model was essentially a modified Rolex Turn-O-Graph, with a new bezel and movement. The earliest versions featured a luminous Bakelite bezel insert, but this was replaced by an aluminium bezel in models made after 1956, because the original bezel was was deemed to be too fragile.
The Reference 6542 was available in steel only and remained in production until 1959. However, it was later worn by the character Pussy Galore in the 1964 James Bond film 'Goldfinger'. As a result, it is sometimes referred to by collectors and enthusiasts as the 'Pussy Galore' GMT-Master. Production of the second generation GMT-Master, Reference 1675, began in 1959 and continued until 1980. The early versions of this particular model used a calibre 1565 movement, although this was changed to the updated calibre 1575 from 1965 onwards. Reference 1675 models were available in steel, gold or two-tone options.
Introduction of the GMT-Master II
The 1980s was an important decade in GMT-Master history, starting with the release of the Reference 16750 in 1981. Notable changes from previous models included the introduction of a new movement, the calibre 3075, as well as a glossy dial and a quick-set date function. This model was produced until 1988.
In 1983, however, Rolex unveiled the GMT-Master II, Reference 16760. Featuring an extra thick case, the model was affectionately nicknamed the 'Fat Lady'. The bezel featured a new red and black colour combination, the watch had a sapphire crystal and it was able to display three different time zones, instead of two.
Then, in 1988, Rolex introduced new versions of both the GMT-Master and GMT-Master II. The former, Reference 16700, now also featured a sapphire crystal and had a slightly re-designed case. The latter, Reference 16710, was now slimmer than its predecessor and featured three distinctive bezel options.
Rolex GMT-Master 50th Anniversary
For several years, the manufacturer continued to produce both GMT-Master and GMT-Master II models, although this changed around the turn of the new millennium, when production of the Reference 16700 ceased. Effectively, this meant that the GMT-Master II replaced the original GMT-Master collection. In 2005, to mark the 50th anniversary of the GMT-Master, Rolex released a new version of the GMT-Master II, updating a number of design features. Upgrades included the use of the company's patented Parachrom hairspring, while this model also saw the collection shift towards ceramic bezels, offering superior scratch resistance.
Finally, in 2007, Rolex released the Reference 116710, complete with an anti-reflective Cyclops lens over the date display window, increased lug size and a new movement, the calibre 3186. In 2013, a new version of this model was released, with a black and blue bezel. This has since become known as the 'Batman' GMT-Master.