The first Rolex GMT watch was designed in partnership with Pan American Airways and was given to all their crew on long distance flights. This watch had a 24-hour display fourth hand whose purpose was to allow the crew to set their watch to their current time zone and then rotate the bezel so an alternative time zone could also be displayed. They named it the GMT Master, the first of its kind.
To improve upon yet another innovative Rolex watch, the company launched the second generation Rolex GMT Master II in the early 1980s. This introduction was not intended to replace the original design, which Rolex continued to produce into the late 1990s.
Although the Rolex GMT Master II was visually similar to the original GMT Master, it had an additional movement that was capable of adjusting a quickset hour hand that could be set to local time while not disrupting any of the other times displayed. This meant that in conjunction with its rotatable bezel, it could now calculate a third time zone.
The Rolex GMT Master II was updated in 2005 with many new changes: technically, it featured the new Rolex Parachrom hairspring and a Triplock crown. Other changes included ornamental ones – the case increased in size, it displayed larger hands, and the bezel was now made of 904L steel, designed to protect it against corrosion and damage.
So What is the Rolex GMT’s Value?
The Rolex GMT Master II ref. 16710, first introduced in 1989, is estimated to be worth upwards of $5,400. It comes in stainless steel, with the iconic 24-hour ceramic bezel and oyster bracelet. Depending on the condition of the watch, the price could reach even higher.
Factors that influence the value of the Rolex GMT are the quick sets and bezel material. A watch with the 18k yellow gold bezel and quick set complication bumps up the price for these time pieces to a level around $6,800 and up.
This is also evident when considering that the Rolex GMT Master II ref. 16718 in 18K yellow gold and featuring an independently-adjustable hand, and Oyster bracelet, which can fetch up to $10,500.
The Next-Generation Rolex GMT Watch
The Rolex GMT Master II 116710BLNR, better known as Rolex GMT Batman was unveiled in 2013 in Baselworld, and is immediately recognized by its black and blue bi-color ceramic bezel.
The older Rolex GMT models had aluminum inserts found in the bezel, which were easily printable. However, ceramic is a much harder material, and Rolex said that it was impossible to make a bi-color bezel in ceramic.
Bi-colored ceramic bezels are made of one ceramic piece and the process of making them two-toned is vastly complicated. However, following a chemical process that turns the originally green-colored ceramic to two colors, like black and blue, was a win for Rolex.
Needless to say, the GMT Batman was the highlight of the 2013 show.
The 116710BLNR has been extremely successful and in high demand since its introduction, so much so that the resale value of the GMT Batman is extremely close to its retail price. Looking to determine the value could lead to a wide variety of figures from different dealers, but you could expect this Rolex GMT’s price to be around $8,950.
Bringing Back the Classic GMT Master
Not long after the GMT Batman’s spectacular unveiling, in 2014 Rolex initiated the revival of the original 1955 bezel in its reference 116719BLRO: The Rolex GMT Master II “Pepsi.”
Before the ceramic GMT Pepsi, Rolex launched updated GMT Master II watches that retained the blue and red tones for the bezel but decided in 2007 to stop producing them. Not too long after this, they had all the GMT Master II watches moved to Cerachrom ceramic bezels. This makes the GMT Batman the first ever to have a blue and black ceramic bezel; and GMT Pepsi, the first ever to have red ceramic available and featured commercially in a time piece.
The ceramic inserts themselves are far superior to the original aluminum inserts in both price and in quality: the colors on the newer ceramic bezels will never fade and the scratch resistance of the ceramic ensures that the bezel will always look brand-new.
This GMT Pepsi 2014 model is currently available for $41,000.
This model is also heavier than the older GMT Master II, despite the fact that its overall size has remained the same at 40mm. In comparison to the older GMT Master, the Rolex GMT Pepsi’s bezel now clicks, which makes it even simpler to mark time in the three different time zones. The updated version has a new Oysterlink clasp, which feels more durable and solid.
Overall, when compared, the new GMT Master II is a superior watch in many aspects: the ceramic bezel, the lining up of the rotation on every hour, the high-quality clasps and bracelets, and the new white gold option. Nonetheless, the original GMT Master II ref. 16760 is rich with history and has a story that carries just as much value.