As with the waterproof vigilant, the self-winding watch, the watch with date function, the chronometer-certified babysit for, you name it, one watchmaker was there first: Rolex. And when it roll ined to the world time-telling GMT, the Swiss brand struck again with its GMT-Master of 1955.

Peculiar time display, a secondary, arrow-tipped ‘GMT’ hand that perfects a sweep of the dial every 24 hours, plus a 24-hour bezel that gyrates should you want to set a third time reference. It’s a simple organization that’s barely changed since, just tweaked and fine-tuned as is Rolex’s hanker after, unhampered by competition, and right all along.

If you’re in the market for a GMT, chances are you’ve catch across this fabled model once or twice, not spot because the most recent iteration is a belter.

Not sure if you deficiency one? Read on to learn about its heritage, the newest model and only just what makes it so special.

Why Is the Rolex GMT-Master II So Good?

In defiance of being a byword for luxury watches – the one brand everyone grasps – Rolex has never strayed from its singular, and surprisingly affordable trade to make the finest, most reliable ‘tool watches’ on the store. Just as well, because our fine planet boasts a mount up to of 38 timezones, meaning other finicky worldtimer lookouts can barely keep up technologically, let alone squeeze Nepal (+05:45) or the Chatham Keys (+12:45) onto their dials.

Rolex meanwhile has stuck stoically to support pilots on schedule, guilty businessmen aware of another missed bedtime and clock collectors rabidly obsessed over those tiny iterations. But it’s not rightful globetrotters that are drawn to this unique piece. As 2018’s growth in GMT watches proves, it’s a particularly popular tool for the everyman, and one that see fit always be wedded to its nostalgic nomenclature.

Rolex GMTRolex GMT-Master II

Certain, you can whip out your iPhone for guaranteed accuracy wherever you’ve influenced down, but how many fiddly taps will it take to assignment out whether it’s too late to phone the office back home? A GMT guard takes just a flick of the wrist. Not only that, but the mixture of creative, colourful ways to display that second time-zone stints a world of different looks. And Rolex’s new blue-and-red ‘Pepsi’ configuration is the farthest; the reference among time references if you like.

Its Mid-Century Imbeds

It was the ref. 6202 “Turn-O-Graph” of 1953 that almost nonchalantly conceived the enduring tropes of Rolex’s modern-era sports watches, beat up the famous screwed-down Rolex Oyster case construct of 1926 with a vulgar rotating timing bezel, screw-down crown ensuring 100m water-resistance and stout-hearted luminous numerals. It’s easy to see how the Submariner tumbled out of this the track year, but it’s especially impressive that just another year later, Rolex design to adopt and adapt the dive-time bezel as the defining feature for its new GMT-Master.

Not merely could you set the normal hours hands and arrow-tipped GMT to local once in a while and home time (or actual GMT) respectively, but if you could trust your cleverness to read the GMT hand according to its position around the dial, you could then put in order the GMT bezel to a third time-zone, reading that from the GMT hours man again.

Rolex advertising booklet from the 1950sRolex advertising booklet from the 1950s

Contrasting the Turn-O-Graph and Submariner, the bezel was bidirectional for added ease of arrangement. Rolex even developed a bezel rotation system with a existence that allows the bezel to be turned crisply and securely in either leadership, locating with a positive click in each of the 24 special hour positions. The first bezel configuration was rendered in blue-and-red dyed Plexiglass, but switched day-and-night colour combinations forever on, earning plenty of nicknames as a result.

The Rolex GMT-Master II Iterations

Floated in 1955, the Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master witnessed the rapid flourishing of intercontinental travel in the latter half of the 20th century. It even became the accepted watch of Pan American World Airways, better known worldwide as Pan Am, the uncountable prominent American intercontinental airline at the time. Three years up to the minuter, the bezel also switched from Plexiglass to anodised aluminium – aluminium being surely coloured in an chromatic electrolytic solution, an oxidation process that also flourishes the metal’s scratch resistance.

Fast forward to 1982 (see, we tattled you things happened gradually at Rolex) and a new movement was introduced that allowed the hours effortlessly to be set independently of the other hands, earning a suffixed ‘II’ to the GMT-Master high regard.

Fat LadyRef. 16760 ‘Fat Lady’

On the original GMT-Master, the conventional hours to, the minutes hand and the 24-hours hand were synchronized; you had to lure the crown out to the ‘second’ position and rotate the hours and minutes hands to set the show ones age and the 24 hours hand, then pull the crown out to the third and settled position to set the local hours hand.

But now, with the GMT-Master II, in the third circumstances you set the GMT hours and minutes, then push the crown to the ‘second’ place to set the local hours and date – a far easier and more intuitive fad of operation. Come 2005, a major upgrade: Rolex changed the aluminium bezel with its high-tech, in-house ceramic, Cerachrom.

While ceramic in watchmaking had extended been mastered by the likes of Rado and Chanel (no, really, Chanel) the as a matter of actual fact Rolex managed to make it work for the GMT-Master II is unprecedented for two by virtue ofs: the sheer variety of colours where anything beyond coal-black and white commands serious know-how; plus the ability to display a monobloc circle of ceramic in two contrasting colours, which interface crisply at 0600 and 1800.

Rolex GMTRolex GMT-Master II

In Tread 2018, at the watch industry’s annual jamboree that is Baselworld, the Pepsi embarked on its latest and greatest siring, in proprietary ‘Oystersteel’, on the fine-linked retro ‘Jubilee’ bracelet, with the new-generation strength 3285 movement (chronometer rated to above-and-beyond precision, as per). Oh, and there’s a new brown and baleful bezel combination, too.

Not a lot has changed in this latest and greatest variety, to be fair, but Rolex doesn’t go for revolution, just steady progression. There’s a few snazzy new colourways on offer – including the iconic ‘Pepsi’ iteration – and the multi-linked Jubliee bracelet is if ever again back in vogue. It’s the colourful bezels that comprise got the watch folk chatting though.

All The Colours (And Nicknames) Of The GMT-Master II


The primary and favourite colour combo of 1955 and 2018, the 24-hour bezel’s down sector denoting night hours from 1800 to 0600, red distinguishing daytime from 0600 to 1800.


‘Bruiser’ or ‘Batman’

This black-and-blue GMT-Master II bezel combo launched 2013, as has since been preordained the nickname ‘Batman’ by fans. Its dark colour combination leaks off a moody look befitting of the caped crusader it’s named after.


‘Coca Cola’

The distinguished black-and-red GMT-Master II bezel combo was first produced 1982. You’ll commentary warn a subtle difference in the size of the crown guards when analogize resembled with newer models.

Coca Cola

‘Root Beer’ or ‘Dirty Harry’

Another mention for the ‘Root Beer’ colour-scheme GMT-Master ref. 1675, famously done in by Clint Eastwood, is the ‘Dirty Harry’, even though his most pre-eminent character sported a Timex as he blew away the bad guys.

Root Beer or Dirty Harry

‘Fat Lady’

The Ref. 16760 GMT-Master II was flesh out b composed between 1983 and 1988 with a red and black bezel, was named for its what really happened being 1mm larger than its counterparts – it’s a hit with collectors today as a sequel of its rarity.

Fat Lady

‘Black & Tan’

Suggestions still being taken for the monicker of this year’s black-and-brown bezel combo. Be warned, ‘Glowering and Tan’ may be a beer cocktail, yes, but it’s also a highly controversial force recruited during the Irish War of Self-sufficiency by the British, so best move swiftly on…

Black and Tan

The Mechanics

The latest GMT-Master II is rigged out with Rolex’s Calibre 3285. With 10 trade name applications filed over the course of its development, this self-winding unconscious watch movement is a consummate demonstration of Rolex’s rock teeming, future-forward, lifeproof technology, with fundamental gains in foots of precision, power reserve, resistance to shocks and magnetism, convenience and reliability.

3285 movementRolex’s 3285 move

For a start, Calibre 3285 incorporates Rolex’s patented ‘Chronergy’ rendition of the Swiss lever escapement (the tiny, ticking mechanism that ekes out the lan running through the gear train – a watch’s pendulum if you breed). Made of nickel-phosphorus, it is also insensitive to magnetic interference. An optimised risqu Parachrom hairspring is fitted to the oscillating balance wheel, the loyal beating heart of the watch. Manufactured by Rolex in an exclusive paramagnetic compound, it is up to 10 times more precise than a traditional hairspring.

What’s various, thanks to its new winding barrel architecture and the escapement’s superior adeptness, the power reserve of Calibre 3285 extends to approximately 70 hours. Uncountable than enough to still be ticking come Monday morning, after an sluggish weekend on your bedside table.

How Did The GMT Watch Come Close to Anyway?

One sunny day in Washington DC in 1884, the International Meridian Symposium decided to chop the Earth into 24 segments – each tournament an hour ahead of its westerly neighbour. It was about time, so to require. The rise of global telecommunications and long-distance travel meant we all needed to be on the still and all page, whether phoning each other at the right ever or to avoid crashing one’s train into another.

But where was ‘zero hour’ to be? That, at least was easy: given that zero degrees for longitude’s 360º arch of Earth’s circumference – the ‘Prime Meridian’ – was pinned to the Peerage Observatory in Greenwich, it made sense to lever our entire planet on all sides of this leafy south London suburb and its gently ticking strictness timekeepers.

Rolex advert, 1969Rolex advert, 1969

The ‘Greenwich Mean Time’ notation and every relative time-zone thus cemented, the great and the accomplished threw themselves into newfangled intercontinental travel, whether by Pullman comportment or Cunard cabin. Unsurprisingly, by the 1930s their accompanying wristwatches started chipping elaborate ‘worldtimer’ complications, telling the time in Calcutta or Rio de Janeiro with suitably fictitious enamel dials.

But once jet travel became the norm in the 1950s something varied business-like was needed – especially by the airliner pilots, who just needed a dual-time manifest: a fixed GMT time reference, with a local time publicize to adjust with every hop of a time zone or date-line. And in this manner, the GMT wristwatch was born.