The History of the GMT-Master II
The GMT-Master II is one of the cornerstones of the Rolex line-up. As technological advancements made longer flights possible in the 1950s, the Rolex GMT-Master II was born out of necessity for the pilots who would frequently lead flights across time zones. Pan American World Airways, more commonly referred to as Pan Am, wanted a watch to do exactly that, and thus Rolex launched the first GMT-Master watch in 1955 for pilots. The “GMT” moniker refers to “Greenwich Mean Time,” which is where the Royal Observatory is located and it’s the starting point for every other time zone. The original GMT-Master used a Bakelite bezel insert, which is a plastic material often used in electrical equipment. Rolex soon switched out the Bakelite for more durable aluminum. Then in 2007, Rolex gave the GMT-Master line a refresh, reworking the case to the thicker “Maxi case” and updating the bezel to their Cerachrom (ceramic). It was this refresh that added the “Two” to the GMT-Master II name. Interested in learning more about this collection’s history? Read this article that details its evolution to today’s modern sports watch, or gather everything you need to know about the Rolex GMT-Master II in one place.
How to Set the Date on the GMT-Master II
As the name suggests, this watch’s main attraction is the added fourth hand on the dial which allows the watch to show an additional time zone, making it an ideal companion for the frequent traveler. The additional hand, also called the GMT hand, works in conjunction with the bi-directional, 24-hour bezel to track the second time zone.
To use it, simply set the GMT hand to your home time, and when you arrive at your destination, move the main hour hand to whatever the local time is ( — the GMT hand will still be accurate to the time back home). The rotating bezel actually gives the watch a third time zone, too. For this, you need to know how many hours forward or behind the desired time zone is. For example, London is five hours ahead of Eastern time compared to Philadelphia. To fit this scenario, you would rotate the bezel so the five is at the 12 o’clock position, and then read the GMT hand as you normally would.
Explore Standout Models
Since the first GMT-Master II, known as the “Fat Lady,” swept enthusiasts off their feet in 1982, the collection has been honoring its predecessor’s design and bringing a fresh new twist with subtle elements like the sapphire crystal and red and black Coke bezel insert. Check out our list of must-see models and their estimated price ranges before you start shopping.
Coke Ref. 16710
Boasting a sleek case and higher-beat movement than its predecessors, the GMT-Master II ref. 16710, or Rolex Coke, has accrued a hefty following through the years. Although the original model enjoyed a short and sweet production run of only five years, you can find pre-owned models in near-mint condition. Available in a striking red and black bezel combination, it’s no wonder why this model has remained a prize for so many collectors. If you’re looking to buy a pre-owned Rolex Coke, expect to pay somewhere between $14,000 and $17,000 depending on the reference number and demand.
Root Beer Ref. 126711CHNR
We couldn’t have a serious conversation about this collection without mentioning the Root Beer ref. 126711CHNR. This bicolored beauty has distinct design cues with a rich blend of Everose gold, black, and tan Cerachrom “Root Beer” bezel, all neatly situated on a stainless steel and 18k Everose gold Oyster bracelet. If you’re interested in older Root Beer models or want to see similar references, a pre-owned Rolex Root Beer typically ranges in price from $9,500 to $12,000.
Batman “Dark Knight” Ref. 116710BLNR
Joining the GMT-Master II’s lineup of pop culture-worthy nicknames, the ref. 116710BLNR “Batman” doesn’t disappoint. It’s a captivating two-tone ceramic piece with platinum coatings on the index and numeral “wells.” Learn more about this piece when you read “The ‘Dark Knight’ Returns...For the First Time.” Prices for a pre-owned Batman typically range from $16,500 to $21,000.
What Makes the Rolex GMT-Master II So Desirable?
Rolex is a company that established itself through innovations that aided in their creation of high-quality tools that tell the time — not luxury products. This is evidenced in the Rolex GMT-Master II which was literally created to fill a need for pilots. These watches needed to be durable and accurate, and over the years, their quality spoke for itself. The GMT-Master II is a very unique piece of history, and you get to experience a small part of that every time you strap this watch to your wrist. Wondering how popular Rolex watches are on a global scale? We’ll give you a hint — they’re the top selling brand in at least five countries. Find out which ones when you read this exclusive article detailing the top luxury watch brands in the world.
Why Buy Pre-Owned GMT-Master IIs?
In today’s market, one of the greatest appeals of buying a pre-owned Rolex GMT-Master II is simply that they are available to purchase. But, how do you get your hands on one of these pieces? The GMT-Master II is one of Rolex’s most in-demand models right now, so it is unlikely to find one sitting in an AD’s case — so, pre-owned is your friend. The second reason to buy pre-owned mainly speaks to the older GMT-Master models, and that is because there are so many interesting models to choose from. From the classic Coke, Pepsi, and “Batman” references (red/black, red/blue, blue/black), to the brown and gold original “Root Beer” models, the options are seemingly endless. Simply put, the worn aluminum bezel adds a charm that is lost on the newer ceramic bezel models. Watchbox’s global inventory of stainless steel Rolex watches is a great place to start seeking out your Rolex GMT-Master or GMT-Master II.