Rolex is a brand that’s collected a lot of “first” distinctions over the years with its innovative watch models. One of these watches, originally designed in 1954 for Pan Am pilots flying on international trips, the Rolex GMT Master was the first watch able to set the time for two different time zones.
With its now-iconic red and blue “Pepsi” bezel that helped distinguish between daylight and nighttime hours and Rolex’s reliable movements, the GMT Master quickly became one of the brand’s most popular watches for both air travelers and regular consumers alike. And, with the production GMT Master II in the early 1980’s, it introduced some developments that only solidified the GMT Master model’s place as one of the most sought-after watches in the industry.
The Rolex GMT Master II
Production of the GMT Master II ref. 16760 began in 1983, with Rolex creating a watch almost identical to the GMT Master in looks. This model was the first to use both the red and black “Coke” bezel and sapphire crystal for the glass, and initially was only available in steel. The GMT Master II also made use of the new caliber 3085, which allowed the 24-hour hand to become independently adjustable without disturbing the minute, second, or GMT hand.
The GMT Master II ref. 16710 was introduced in 1989, and became the only Master model on the market once production of the GMT Master ceased in the late 1990’s. The current Rolex GMT Master II models feature an updated movement, the caliber 3186. It is self-winding, chronometer certified, and manufactured completely in-house by Rolex. One aspect of the movement that makes the GMT Master II so notable is Rolex’s own Parachrom hairspring, which is ten times more resistant to shock than the average hairspring and is not affected by magnetic fields, making it the ideal pilot’s watch. And for a watch known for its toughness, Rolex made it even more so with the introduction of a ceramic bezel, making it scratch and fade resistant.
In 2007, Rolex updated the GMT Master II again with the ref. 116710, which made improvements to the caliber 3186, introduced a slightly larger case and more solid case, but which no longer featured the double-colored bezel that had become so associated with the GMT Master watch. In more recent years, Rolex has introduced newer models of the GMT Master II that echo that history of red-blue or red-black bezels, but instead with a new color combination black and blue bezel.
As a brand, Rolex has an indisputable history of innovation and is well-known for the high-quality watches it produces year after year. The GMT Master II is no exception, and it continues to be a consistent top seller in both the retail and secondhand markets.