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Rolex GMT Master II

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Around the World with the GMT-Master II

Its name speaks for itself: The GMT-Master II from Rolex is the perfect stylish companion for globetrotters on their travels around the world. The watch can keep track of two time zones thanks to its 24-hour hand and rotating bezel.

Highlights

  • World-renowned watch with a second time zone (GMT function)
  • Ideal for frequent travelers, businessmen, and politicians
  • Top quality chronometer: In-house caliber 3186 powers newer models
  • Featuring a Cerachrom ceramic bezel since 2007
  • 40 mm case made of stainless steel, stainless steel and yellow gold (bicolor), yellow gold, or white gold

Rolex GMT-Master II: Classic Meets High-Tech

The GMT-Master II from Rolex is one of the most well-known watches featuring a second time zone. The Swiss manufacturer continues the story of the GMT-Master with this automatic watch. For almost 20 years, both models were available, but Rolex stopped producing the GMT-Master at the turn of the century. Today, it's considered one of Rolex's most highly sought-after collector's watches, together with the Submariner. GMT-Masters can be identified by their bidirectional, rotating 24-hour bezel withan additional hand, which completes one rotation every 24 hours. This triangular-tipped hand matches the bezel and displays the second time zone. Models with a bicolor bezel signify whether it's daytime or nighttime in the second time zone. The lighter half (red or blue) symbolizes day and the darker half (blue or black), night.
This automatic watch is now available in many different versions. The ceramic bezel comes in black, black/blue, or red/blue. The red/blue bezel is reminiscent of the Pepsi colors, earning it the nickname the "Pepsi" watch. This color combination was available in 1955 as well, when the first GMT-Master was presented. Just as well known as the Pepsi watch is the "Coke" watch, named for its black/red bezel.

Buying Advice for the GMT-Master II

If you're looking for a Rolex watch with a GMT function, then the GMT-Master II is the perfect watch for you. The additional fourth hand, together with the bezel, displays the time in a second time zone. Therefore, you'll always have an eye on your home time when you're on the road. The usual hands for hours, minutes, and seconds display the current local time. A Cerachrom ceramic inlay, introduced in 2007, prevents the bezel from getting scratched. The bezel is available in black, black/blue, and blue/red. Older versions with an aluminum bezel have the so-called "Coke" bezel in black/red. You have the choice between stainless steel, bicolor stainless steel and yellow gold, or 18-karat white or yellow gold for the case and band materials. A pre-owned GMT-Master in good condition generally costs less than 5,000 euros. New models cost around 6,000 euros. The bicolor models are around 9,000 euros, while the solid gold models are more expensive, coming in at 20,000 euros.

Buying Tips

  • Stainless steel models available for around 5,000 euros
  • White or yellow gold models starting at 20,000 euros
  • Especially scratch-proof Cerachrom bezel
  • Alternatives: Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600 M GMT, Breitling Chronomat 44 GMT, Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days GMT Automatic

Gold and Stainless Steel on Your Wrist

Earlier versions of the GMT-Master were also available in bicolor or solid gold. It's no different with the GMT-Master II: The band is available in stainless steel, yellow and white gold, and a combination of stainless steel and yellow gold. Rolex calls their bicolor models "Rolesor," and they're a characteristic mark of the brand. The manufacturer has used this combination of materials since the early 1930s. Gold models are available with black or green dials and a black ceramic bezel. The Pepsi version has an 18-karat white gold case and band. The stainless steel versions come with either a black or a black/blue bezel. With all of their gold watches, Rolex allegedly puts more gold into circulation than any other watch manufacturer. They even use platinum for one Daytona model, one of the most precious metals in watchmaking.

21st Century Technology

The design of Rolex watches hasn't changed much over the last 60 years. This rigor and dedication to form is one of the secrets to their success. Any changes are minimal and only to small details. This is likewise the case with the GMT-Master II, which received a high-tech ceramic bezel in 2007. The ceramic bezel replaced the previously used aluminum bezels. Ceramic has many advantages: It's especially hard, scratch resistant, and yet still very lightweight. Dials and markings are cut into the material and receive a patented platinum or gold dust coating. At the beginning of production, the ceramic bezel was only available in black, as bicolor variants didn't yet seem to be technologically possible. This changed in 2013 when Rolex introduced their black/blue model. Rolex used an independently developed process for production. Before the bezel is heated in the oven, the engineers apply a chemical compound solution to half of the bezel. This causes that half to turn blue during the firing process. One year later, Rolex successfully produced the red/blue ceramic bezel for the first time. Because the high-tech material is UV resistant, there's no need to be concerned about the color fading over the years.
The automatic caliber 3186 powers the GMT-Master II. The movement's rotor bidirectionally winds the hairspring. The movement is located - as is the case with all Rolex sport models - behind a screw-down case back. This movement offers high-quality Rolex technology: It vibrates at 28,800 alternations per hour and features red anodized minute wheels, a balance bridge, and a free-sprung blue Parachrom hairspring. Thanks to the Breguet overcoil (created by raising the hairspring's last coil and bending it in towards the center), the hairspring can breathe better, resulting in improved precision. Additionally, the movement is made from a paramagnetic alloy, making it unaffected by magnetic fields. Working together with the balance rim, this creates an auto-compensating system, meaning the frequency stays consistent even during temperature variations. High-precision regulation occurs via Microstella nuts on the balance rim. Using a special tool, you can regulate the watch without even having to disassemble it. The designers decided against the usual method of regulating the watch via a regulator. Like every Rolex movement, the caliber 3186 received a certificate from the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC).

Technical Highlights

  • In-house caliber 3186 with chronometer certificate
  • Paramagnetic Parachrom hairspring with a Breguet overcoil for increased precision
  • Precision index adjustment via Microstella nuts
  • UV-resistant and scratch-resistant Cerachrom bezel

Developed for Pilots

Rolex introduced the first generation of the GMT-Master in 1955. Originally, the timepiece with reference number 6542 was developed for Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) pilots. At the beginning of the 1950s, the airline was in the market for watches that could clearly display two time zones. Rolex won the contract, and the GMT-Master became the official watch of the airline. Pan Am ordered two versions of the watch: one with a black dial for pilots and one with a white dial for ground staff. Versions with reference number 6542 are highly sought after by collectors and watch enthusiasts and sell in the five-figure range.
The GMT-Master began enjoying increased popularity within a few years, extending well beyond pilots. Actor Daniel Craig, who wore an Omega Seamaster as James Bond, wears a Rolex GMT-Master during his day-to-day life. Actor Tom Selleck, well known from his role on Magnum, P.I., also relies on a GMT-Master. Cuba's former president, Fidel Castro, is also a Rolex fan. In addition to a Submariner and a Day-Date, he has multiple GMT-Master models.
The Geneva-based manufacturer introduced the GMT-Master II for the first time at the beginning of the 1980s. Due to its larger case, the watch with reference number 16760 was nicknamed the "Fat Lady." The watch was available with either a black or black/red aluminum bezel. The automatic caliber 3075 offered the possibility to set the hour hand independently from the minute hand by only pulling the crown halfway out; in this setting, the wearer could also set the date. Moreover, the designers replaced Plexiglass with scratchproof sapphire glass. The "Fat Lady" was only produced until 1988, making it rare and beloved amongst collectors. Reference number 16710 succeeded the "Fat Lady."

GMT-Master II: The Sequel to a Success Story

With the GMT-Master II, Rolex built upon the success of the first GMT time zone watch. Originally developed for Pan Am pilots, the GMT-Master developed into an icon in just a few short years. Actors, heads of state, and business leaders recognize and appreciate its functionality, reliability, and robustness. Its elegant yet sporty design, which has remained consistent over the years, has turned this watch into a classic collector's item. The use of materials such as yellow or white gold raises the value of some models. Since Rolex watches maintain their value and rare versions tend to be worth more than their original prices, they're solid investments.

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