The Travellers Rolex

Rolex GMT Master II

The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date GMT Master is an iconic watch with a rich history, full with stories of pilots who have used this model to assist them on their travels. We thought we would give you a little bit of history about the Rolex GMT and reasons to why we think it has flown off the shelves over the years!

Rolex GMT Master II Armour Winston

The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date GMT Master was first designed in collaboration with Pan American Airways for use by their pilots and navigators. During the 40’s and 50’s flying distances increased and pilots were starting to travel throughout multiple time zones more regularly. Rolex decided to do this by adding a fourth hand placing the hour markers on the out bezel. The GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) was born!

In an era of supersonic flight, Pan-Am pilots were not the only ones wearing these a Rolex GMT. NASA, US Air Force pilots and traveling business people all adopted the watch. When Concorde performed its final test flights in the 1960s, Rolex proudly announced that both the British and French test pilots (Brian Trubshaw and André Turcat) wore GMT-Masters.

Tom Selleck as Magnum PI Rolex GMT Master

The first GMT Master Ref. 6542 was first introduced to the public in 1954, and was in production until 1959. The original timepieces featured a bezel that broke easily, so two years later it was replaces with a stronger aluminium one. Although the original Rolex GMT Master was only available in stainless steel, it was seen more as a functional, work watch, Rolex have since made luxury versions in both mixed steel and gold since the 1970's. There are some even more exotic variations that incorporate elaborate designs that include precious stones. Perhaps the more iconic looking GMT was the 16710. introduced to the public with Rolex offering three different bezels. The Red and Black Coke Bezel (ref.16710A), the Blue and Red Pepsi bezel (ref.16710B) and the solid back bezel (ref.16710N). 

Many celebrities have been spotted wearing the Rolex GMT over time. Tom Selleck wore a Pepsi bezel GMT when he played Magnum P.I. Jack Swigert wore one on Apollo 13, and Ed Mitchell during the Apollo 14 moon landing.

In 2005 an updated Rolex GMT Master II was released. The new model had several cosmetic changes, such as larger case, hands and hour markers, and a new scratch and fade resistant bezel . Also a more luxurious style of bracelet was included. The Oyster bracelet is a perfect combination of aesthetics and technology, designed to be both robust and comfortable. It certainly gives it a more dressy look!

The GMT has come a long way since the original model 6542, which is even more evident in latest Rolex GMT Master II model ref. 116719BLRO. The newest edition is equipped with calibre 3186, a self‑winding mechanical movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex. Its design is similar to all Oyster watch movements, which means it is extremely reliable. For the regular traveller of today, it is easy to set the local time you are currently in. Rolex’s ingenious mechanism operates via the winding crown: the hour hand can be adjusted forwards or backwards independently of the minute and seconds hands. Rolex states that “this allows travellers to adapt to their newt time zone without affecting the precision of their timekeeping”.

Rolex 16710 GMT Master II watch

We are sure to see an even more updated version of this stunning watch in Rolex’s future. But for now, why not take a look at our variety of Rolex GMT Master II watches available now at Armour Winston!

For example, this 2005 Rolex GMT Master II ref.16710 watch is the even rarer later version of the popular and collectible Rolex 16710 GMT Master II. It has the pepsi bezel and crucially the 'non-pin hole' case. The value of these watches are on the increase, and this particular watch is in immaculate condition.