Rolex made many iterations for its models, keeping each edition better and more technical than the previous one. One of them is GMT Master II which is derived from its original model GMT Master. But, you will probably ask, what is the difference between the two? When you look at the watches from the outside, GMT Master and GMT Master II may appear to be the same, but when you look inside, the movements are different. The difference is that the GMT Master shows two time zones, while GMT Master II shows three time zones.
While the local hour hand and the GMT hand on the dial move together, it also has a 24-hour marked bezel that establishes the second time zone. On the other hand, GMT-Master II shows that the local and 24-hour hands are not synchronized. With the additional GMT hand, the bezel’s 12 o’clock position remained. As a result, the GMT hand can freely wander to indicate any other time on the bezel that shows a second time zone. Let’s look at how Rolex GMT Master II has evolved over the years up to this date.
The development of GMT Master II
The GMT Master II was launched in 1983 and has been in the world of watchmaking for more than 37 years. Among other GMT watches, it is by far the most popular. Since then, Rolex has managed to upgrade the features of this famous pilot watch model. Its release made several firsts in its time. Let us introduce to you the series of this timeless wristwatch.
- Reference 16760 (1983 – 1988)
The first edition of GMT Master II was Ref. 16760. It is the pioneer among the features that the company released. Below are some of the firsts:
- It reads three different time zones.
- It showcased the famous red and black bezel or Coke.
- It was the first fitted with a sapphire crystal with Cyclops lens.
- It was the first to have the tritium luminous hour markers on the black dial surrounded by white gold accents.
This GMT-Master II model featured the same 40 mm case size as its predecessors. Still, because the movement of the caliber 3085 was more prominent than in previous models, the case was slightly thicker. As a result, the GMT-Master II ref.16760 earned the nickname “Fat Lady” because of its prominent appearance. To make room for the GMT-Master II ref. 16710, Rolex discontinued the 16760 in 1988.
- Reference 16710 (1989 – 2007)
In 1989, after the release of the first GMT-Master II, Rolexthe brand introduced the reference 16710. A robust array of various metal choices and bezel variants were available for the second edition of the GMT-Master II. It was considered the last classic watch of Rolex GMT. Aside from 16710, there were other models alongside such as:
- Steel 16710 – introduced monochromatic black bezel, Pepsi bezel color (red and blue), Coke (red and black)
- 16713 steel and two-tone yellow gold – had brown and black bezel or Rootbeer
- 16718 total yellow gold – used black bezel
The Jubilee bracelet became available again with an Oyster bracelet alongside. The dimensions of this edition had a slimmer case because of the Caliber 3185, which is thinner in size too. During this evolution of GMT Master II, the dials’ luminescence had upgraded from Tritium to Luminova and then Superluminova.
- Reference 116710 (2005)
The company released the yellow gold GMT-Master II ref. 116718 in 2005 to honor the 50th anniversary of the GMT-Master. This revolutionary addition gave the current GMT-Master II timepieces their unique look. In addition, a Cerachrom ceramic bezel replaced the previous aluminum bezels, making it the first Rolex watch to have such a bezel.
A rising phenomenon in luxury watchmaking is the use of ceramic as a material because of its aesthetics, resilience to wear, and resistance to scratches and fading. Other Rolex timepieces, such as the GMT-Master ref.11671x, are now outfitted with the Cerachrom ceramic bezel. Another thing, the company redesigned the case shape to broaden the aesthetic and gain the “Super Case” moniker. It retained water resistance at 100 meters, but the Triplock winding crown came, replacing the Twinlock.
Furthermore, the “Maxi Dial” houses more prominent indexes and hands, as well as the rehaut (the space between the crystal and the dial). That, combined with the other measures taken to counter piracy, is why the watches now have ROLEX ROLEX ROLEX engraved into the rehaut. This edition has many variations but is available on an exclusive Oyster bracelet.
- 116710 – stainless steel, black bezel or blue, and black bezel
- 116718 – yellow gold, black bezel with green or black dial
- 116713 – two-tone, black bezel and black dial
- 116719 – white gold, blue and red bezel (Pepsi)
- Reference 126710 (2018)
Rolex at Baselworld 2018 was the talk of the town with the unveiling of the 12671x GMT-Master II watch collection, which included three models. It is the first stainless steel GMT with a red and blue “Pepsi” bezel available to the general public. Also, the Jubilee bracelet returned to the GMT lineup in this generation.
This iteration unleashed Everose gold versions of the GMT-Master II for the first time alongside the steel variant. These were the two-tone steel, the rose gold models (ref. 126711CHNR), and the full rose gold model (ref. 126715CHNR). The watches in this combo are black and brown ceramic bezel, have an Oyster bracelet and black dial. In addition, it used the new Caliber 3285 that has a 72-hour power reserve as opposed to the previous 48 hours.
The GMT Master II is one of the many models of the company that soared high from the past up to the present days. Its contribution to watchmaking history is remarkable as it helped people recognize time from offshore. The significance of its birth will surely resurface to the coming series of this popular Rolex watch.
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