Ultimate Guide to the Rolex GMT Master I & II

Guide to the Rolex GMT Master

An everlasting mainstay on the radar of every self-respecting horologist, Rolex is practically synonymous with the history of clock-making. One of the company’s most beloved lineups – that of the GMT Master wristwatches – stands head and shoulders above most others.

The History of the Rolex GMT Master

As many will already know, the GMT Master lineup of wristwatches (Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date GMT Master) came about as the result of a collaboration between Rolex and Pan American Airways.

The popular airline company requested a reliable wristwatch designed specifically for pilots and navigators to use in day-to-day activities, allowing them to always keep track of the universal Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) time-zone, alongside any other time-zone they might travel to.

Such a high-profile partnership could only lead to a quality product, and indeed, the GMT Master was a success as soon as it launched in 1954. A rugged, feature-rich wristwatch made of stainless steel.

Though the revised GMT Master II launched as early as 2005, the original GMT Master stayed in production until the late 1990s, and both variants remain relatively common on the market even to this day.

How to use the GMT Master II’s Time Zone Function?

The standout feature of this wristwatch is surely its bulky bezel, which – combined with the fourth 24-hour hand – doubles as a time-keeper for whatever alternative time zone you may wish to track.

Depending on the specific position of the crown, you will be able to wind your GMT Master, set its primary hands, or control the 24-hour hand which moves in one-hour increments. You will also need to rotate the bezel to match the time zone that you want to use the 24-hour hand for.

Example: To show NY time (+6 hr compared to Geneva), turn the bezel 6 notches counterclockwise.

Differences Between GMT Master and GMT Master II

While both the GMT Master and the GMT Master II variants look mostly the same, there are a number of differences between the two revisions of the design.

The most obvious change being the dial inscription, the material of the bezel, the GMT features either a bakelite, aluminum or ceramic bezel and the Case Size.

Leaving aesthetics aside for a moment, the majority of differences between the two main revisions of the GMT Master lineup are present in its movement.

GMT Master II introduced an all-new movement – Caliber 3085. Its main draw is a quick-set hour hand that’s fully independent of the rest of the movement and doesn’t interfere with it – something that the original Master did not have.

This means that Master II can keep track of three different time zones: a direct upgrade compared to its predecessor, albeit one that comes at the cost of Master II being slightly bulkier.

GMT Master and its many identities

  • Albino ref. 6542/0 and more recently  126719BLRO Meteorite Dial

 

  • Pussy Galore ref. 6542 Famously known thanks to the James Bond Girl Honor Blackman

 

  • Blueberry Ref. 1675 with a Blue Bezel

 

  • Pepsi Ref.: 1675 & Ref.: 116719BLRO

 

  • Pink Panther is simply a 1675 Pepsi where the red faded to this beautiful Pink
  • Yellow Gold with Brown Bezel Concorde
  • Root Beer Two-Tone Vintage and New
  • Coke, Fat Lady or Sophia Loren Ref.: 16760 being the first GMT with a sapphire glass and usually large case.
  • Batman with the Oyster Strap & Batgirl with the Jubilee

Other Features of the GMT Master Wristwatches

Since Rolex GMT Master wristwatches have such a storied history, here are a few standout features you may wish to keep in mind for potential future purchases.

Bezel Materials & First Release Date

  • Bakelite (GMT Master only)
    • Blue/Red Bakelite – 1955
    • Burgundy Bakelite – 1958
  • Cerachrom Ceramic (GMT Master II only)
    • Black Cerachrom – 2005
    • Black/Blue Cerachrom – 2013
    • Blue/Red Cerachrom – 2014
    • Black/Brown Cerachrom – 2018See all our replacement Ceramic bezel for sell here

Case materials

  • Yellow Gold
  • Two-Tone Steel & Yellow Gold
  • Stainless Steel
  • Two-Tone Steel & Rose Gold
  • Everose Gold
  • White Gold

This should give you a solid idea of all the different variants and varieties of GMT Master you might come across in your horological adventures.

Of course, it’s worth pointing out that GMT Master II does come in a number of jeweled versions, too, but the sheer number of sub-models present in 2021 would be difficult to keep track of.

Famous People Who Own a Rolex GMT Master

GMT Master watches have been widely available for decades now, so it’s no wonder that its universal appeal has been recognized by the distinguished elite. In fact, a number of famous people you might see on television daily own one of these watches.

Here are some of them:

  • Ellen DeGeneres is a huge fan of the GMT Master, who said it was only reserved for men? She was spotted with: Everose Gold GMT-Master II Ref. 126710BLRO, Gold & Green Dial Ref.: 116718LN, Pepsi White Gold 126710 BLRO & also in the vintage department the GMT-Master 1675 Blueberry a rarity!
  • Trevor Noah – Rose Gold GMT-Master Ref. 126715CHNR
  • Brad Pitt – 18K Yellow Gold GMT-Master II Ref. 116718LN
  • Tom Selleck – Pepsi GMT-Master Ref. 1675

Not to forget Kevin Hart, Fidel Castro, Clint Eastwood, Nicolas Cage, Mark Wahlberg, Sylvester Stallone, David Beckham, Bradley Cooper, Daniel Craig and the list goes on…

No wonders the GMT Master is such a HIT with such endorsement from every generation and industries, everyone wear a GMT Master, men, women, actors, politician, business entrepreneur & You!

The Most Expensive Vintage Rolex GMT Master Ever Sold

Originally featured in Ford Coppola’s genre-defining classic, “Apocalypse Now”, the vintage 1972 Rolex GMT Master ref. 1675 is the single most expensive model of this watch ever sold, at a whopping $1.95 million.While the watch itself was only slightly different from any other GMT Master of its time, it reached such a dizzying price thanks to Marlon Brando, who wore it while playing the role of the crazed Col. Kurtz.

There are two standout features to this particular wristwatch. First is that someone removed its classic bulky bezel, showcasing a simpler, more rugged exterior than most of us are used to. The second is Brando’s own signature, which was carved in the backplate of the chassis.

This sale was made via the Phillips Game Changes auction in 2019: a stellar monument to the incredible historical value of the GMT Master lineup.

Rolex GMT Master Next Release Prediction

From the most likely to the less likely here my personal opinion of the futur GMT Master II, let me know what you thing down in the comments!

 

 

    • The Rolex Master II Blackberry

Don’t wait up! Make the GMT Master of your dream everything is available in our store to make the one you want with our Straps, GMT Hands, Bezels & more!

References

Rolex – https://www.rolex.com/watches/gmt-master-ii.html

GMT Master History – http://www.gmtmasterhistory.com/

SCMP.com – https://www.scmp.com/magazines/style/watches/article/2141918/all-you-need-know-about-iconic-rolex-pepsi-gmt-master-ii

Marlon Brando’s GMT Master reference – https://robbreport.com/style/watch-collector/most-expensive-rolex-watches-2948174/

Leave a reply