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Rolex GMT Master II Review

Rolex GMT Master II 16710 with Red-Blue bezel insert

The Rolex GMT Master II has a long history and provenance that makes it one of the very definitions of a tool watch.  Originally introduced at the 1953 Basel watch fair, the Rolex GMT was designed for international travel crossing time zones, and for pilots to read 24 hour time to note in their flight log books.  The original GMT was designed for Pan-Am in 1954 and had a gilt dial, no crown guards and a Bakelite bezel insert. Legend has it that the black faced GMT’s were for pilots, and a white faced version was for office-based executives.

Rolex GMT from 1954

The Rolex GMT Master II that is most prevalent is the model 16710. Although out of production and replaced by the ceramic bezeled 116710, the 16710 can be found here at Beckertime, as well as on the pre-owned Rolex market.  The GMT Master II 16710 has evolved from the original 6542 and 1675 GMT Master with multiple features and improvements added.  The model 1675 was the first to move from Bakelite bezel inserts that were fragile, to aluminum inserts. The original 1675 came with a blue-red insert indicating AM and PM as well as matching Pan-Am color scheme. Later the 16750 came with a quickset hour hand, and for a few years, the 16760 “Fat Lady” because of its larger case. The 16760 was the first GMT with a sapphire crystal, red-black bezel insert, and independently adjustable hour hand so the user can track three time zones.

There are many appealing aspects to the Rolex GMT Master II 16710.  This model uses a similar case as its brother the Submariner (see comparison here). The case is 904L stainless steel and the bracelet the more industry standard 314L stainless. 904L helps prevent corrosion that sometimes occurs on the caseback threads from sweat and sea water. Unlike the Submariner, the GMT utilizes a thinner caseback and Twinloc crown. Both of these differences make the GMT water resistant only to 100 meters.  100 meter water resistance is plenty durable for recreational swimming, snorkeling, and water activities that pilots would do.

The other appealing feature of the Rolex GMT Master II is the ability to track three time zones.  Using a combination of the 24 hour hand set to UTC or Greenwich time, and the rotating bezel, it is easy to track another time zone. The independently adjustable 12-hour hand make it easy to change local time when traveling among time zones. The numbers on the bezel insert, combined with the SuperLuminova covered dial dots and Mercedes hands make the Rolex GMT one of the more legible watch faces.

The Rolex GMT Master II 16710 is available with an Oyster bracelet and Oysterlock bracelet clasp. Earlier models were also available with a DateJust style clasp and Jubilee style bracelet bridging the tool watch with a dress watch.

No one can go wrong with a GMT Master II because of its ease in wearing it, its provenance and history, and its functionality.

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