Traveling Through the History and Evolution of The Rolex GMT Master
GMT Master History Begins With A Solution
Similar to so many famous Rolex watches, the GMT Master came about as a solution to a particular community’s problem. According to GMT Master history, this watch allowed Pan Am pilots to keep track of two time zones simultaneously as commercial travel boomed. Today, the GMT Master and GMT Master II are some of the most popular luxury watches in the world. Join us as we travel through the history and evolution of Rolex’s famous pilot’s watch.
The Rolex GMT Master
The one that started it all was the GMT Master ref. 6542 in 1955. In addition to the center hour and minute hands, the GMT Master had an extra GMT hand that pointed to 24-hour markings on the two-tone Bakelite bezel. As a result, the watch could now display local time as well as home time. Due to its fragility, Bakelite was swiftly replaced with an aluminum insert in the same red and blue “Pepsi” colors.
In 1959, Rolex GMT Master history follows up with the GMT Master ref. 1675 with new crown guards around the winding crown in addition to the “Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified” designation on the dial. In the 1970s, Rolex unveiled a black bezel version as an additional choice to the bi-color bezel. Rolex also presented a full gold GMT-Master with the ref. 1675/8 and a two-tone GMT Master with the ref. 1675/3.
After the ref. 1675 came the GMT Master ref. 16750 in 1981 and with it, Caliber 3075 with the super practical quickset to permit date setting independently of the hour hand. The 18k yellow gold version was the ref. 16758 while the two-tone GMT-Master of the era was the ref. 16753.
1988 saw the launch of the ref. 16700 with sapphire crystal, indexes with white gold surrounds, and Caliber 3175. The ref. 16700 was the last GMT Master model and when its production ceased in 1999, it made way for the GMT Master II to completely take over.
The Rolex GMT Master II
The ref. 16760 was the very first GMT Master II that came out in 1983 with a brand new black and red “Coke” bezel on top of its thicker case. The deeper case accommodated the new Caliber 3085 that had the center hour hand and the 24-hour hand independent from each other. Subsequently, the GMT Master ref. 16750 and the GMT-Master II ref. 16760 were available at the same time with the latter being the more expensive version.
The GMT-Master II ref. 16710 from 1989 is the most varied GMT Master II model to date. In fact, there are three bezel options: black and red, blue and red, and full black. Plus, there’s also the Rolesor ref. 16713 and the full gold ref. ref. 16718.
Finally, in 2007, Rolex unleashed the current GMT Master II model. Dramatically different to all its predecessors, the GMT Master II ref. 166710 offers the Cerachrom ceramic bezel, the heftier case, the Triplock winding crown, the Maxi dial, and the new Caliber 3186. In addition to many gem-set models, there’s the steel ref. 116710LN with the black bezel, the steel ref. 116710BLNR with the black and blue “Batman” bezel, the white gold ref. 116719 with the “Pepsi” bezel, the yellow gold ref. 116718LN and the two-tone ref. 116713LN.
While the origins of the GMT Master began as a pilot’s tool watch, this Rolex quickly took off as a luxury sports watch for the general population too. And six decades later, the GMT Master remains as one of Rolex’s icons.