For more than sixty years, the GMT-Master has been a favorite for both new buyers and seasoned collectors. It is regarded as one of the most desirable luxury watches in the entire world, and is currently available in stainless steel, white gold, and Everose gold options, along with a two-tone steel and Everose version, with retail prices starting at $9,700 as of 2020. Shop our full selection of used Rolex Watches for sale.
The Rolex GMT-Master is the brand's line of multi-time zone watches for pilots and frequent travelers. Originally developed during the 1950s as international jet travel was really starting to take off as an industry, the Rolex GMT-Master II was created specifically as a means for pilots and crew members to simultaneously be able to reference two different time zones.
Over the years, the Rolex GMT-Master has evolved into the GMT-Master II, and it has also gained a strong audience among a far wider audience than just the aviation crowd. Today these models are popular favorites among in incredibly diverse range of individuals, and can be spotted on the wrists of everyone including actors and musicians to military personal, and everyone in between.
Designed in collaboration with Pan Am Airlines, Rolex introduced the Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master watch to the market in 1954 (although most models did not get delivered and sold until 1955 and after). As the airline company embraced international travel in the mid-20th century and rapidly expanded its transcontinental flights, pilots needed a watch that was capable of simultaneously displaying two time zones. The brand answered this request with the GMT-Master, which featured an additional 24-hour hand and a rotating bezel that allowed airline crews to quickly reference two time zones at once.
The revolutionary watch offered a simple and elegant solution to the dual time zone dilemma. The brands then-new aviation timepiece included an additional hour hand, which would complete one full rotation of the dial per day. This arrow-tipped hand was designed to point to a rotating bezel with corresponding hour markings to indicate local time while reference time was displayed via the traditional 12-hour hand on the dial. Consequently, each time a plane landed in a new time zone, pilots simply had to turn the bidirectional rotatable bezel to correspond with the number of hours offset from the reference time zone and read the local time zone with the GMT hand against the bezel, all without disturbing reference time or even having to unscrew the crown to adjust their watches.
Although the model was developed as an airline pilot watch, specifically intended for professional use, a much wider audience has since adopted it over the last six decades thanks to its striking design and practical functionality. Enjoyed by pilots, world travelers, and fans of versatile luxury watches alike, the GMT has become one of Rolex's most iconic sport watch collections.
The popularity of the collection has continued to rise in recent years with the release of the current reference 126710 Pepsi and Batman models. The abundance of variation offered by vintage and modern models ensures that there is a model worthy of both classic and modern styles.
Retail prices start at $9,700 for the stainless steel models, and increase from there with the use of precious metals. However, due to a massive demand, these models sell for significantly more than their retail prices on the open market. Additionally, many vintage models are considered highly collectible, and cost far more then brand-new model.
|Model||Retail Price||Second-Hand Price||Bezel||Materials|
|Ref. 6542||N/A||from: $180,000||Bakelite - Red/Blue||Stainless Steel|
|Ref. 1675||N/A||from: $15,000||Aluminum - Red/Blue, Black||Stainless Steel, Yellow Gold, Steel + Yellow Gold|
|Ref. 16710||N/A||from: $12,000||Aluminum - Red/Blue, Black, Black/Red||Stainless Steel|
|Ref. 16750||N/A||from: $12,000||Aluminum - Red/Blue, Black||Stainless Steel|
|Ref. 116710BLNR||8,950 USD||from: $13,290||Ceramic - Black/Blue||Stainless Steel|
|Ref. 126711CHNR||14,800 USD||from: $15,695||Ceramic - Brown/Black||Steel + Everose Gold|
|Ref. 126710BLRO||9,700 USD||from: $17,995||Ceramic - Red/Blue||Stainless Steel|
|Ref. 126710BLNR||9,700 USD||from: $15,595||Ceramic - Black/Blue||Stainless Steel|
|126715CHNR||38,250 USD||from: $34,750||Ceramic - Brown/Black||Everose Gold|
The price of Rolex GMT watches has significantly increased on the secondary market in recent years due to surging demand. This is particularly true of the stainless steel models, which are some of the most sought after in the world right now, and used examples consistently trade hands for significantly more than their brand-new retail prices on the secondary market.
For example, the 2019 editions of this iconic pilot's watch are currently sold out in boutiques worldwide with waitlists stretching for multiple years. Many collectors are willing to pay well-above retail to ship the waiting list, which has resulted in a massive increase in price on the open market, similar to what can be seen with vintage or discontinued models which are no longer available at retailers or boutiques.
Depending on the model (vintage, discontinued, or current-production models), examples of the stainless pieces for sale on the secondary market can have prices that range anywhere from $10,000 to $22,000. Additionally, precious metal versions can reach up to $35,000 and even higher, depending on the materials of its construction and use of diamonds or other precious gemstones.
The first model to kick off Rolex's aviator watch collection in 1955 was the reference 6542, which was loosely based on the Turn-O-Graph ref. 6202 that was first introduced in 1953. Like the Turn-O-Graph 6202, the GMT-Master 6542 featured a 38mm stainless steel case without crown guards, a bidirectional rotating bezel, and a black dial with luminous hands and hour markers for optimal legibility. However, unlike the 6202, the ref. 6542 included a red and blue bezel insert with 24-hour markings and a modified self-winding mechanical movement featuring an additional GMT hand.
Over the years, they improved upon the core design of the model with each new reference. The company launched the reference 1675 in 1959, which included crown guards on the larger 40mm case and a COSC-certified movement. Following this, Rolex presented the GMT-Master 16750 in 1981, which doubled the water-resistance of the case to 100 meters and introduced the quickset date feature thanks to a new movement. Finally, in 1988, Rolex presented the reference 16700 with sapphire crystal and white gold applied indexes on the dial. The 16700 was the last dual-time reference and it was ultimately discontinued in 1999.
The Rolex GMT-Master II made its debut in 1982 as a mechanically enhanced version of the original pilot’s watch, where the two-hour hands could now be set independently from each other. Consequently, wearers of the new generation of watches could set the hour hands to two different time zone, and then turn the bezel to read a third time zone. Retaining much of the same design codes as the original, the first GMT-Master II was the reference 16760, which was then replaced by the ref. 16710 in 1989, featuring a slimmer case and a new movement.
In 2005, Rolex announced an all-new generation with 1167xx reference numbers featuring Cerachrom bezels and re-designed "Super Cases" with thicker lugs and crown guards. Finally, in 2018, Rolex launched the latest versions with 1267xx reference numbers, complete with new-generation movements, material options, and bezel colors.
The GMT collection has been a part of the Rolex catalog for over 60 years.
The model has been a constant presence in the Rolex catalog since it was first introduced in 1955; however between both the original GMT-Master and GMT-Master II models, Rolex's iconic pilots watch has existed in a number of different configurations.
The collection is among the company's most varied in terms of material options. Rolex has made stainless steel, two-tone yellow gold and stainless steel (yellow Rolesor), and full yellow gold versions of the classic model. Furthermore, Rolex has manufactured stainless steel (known as Oystersteel since 2018), Yellow Rolesor, two-tone Everose gold and stainless steel (Everose Rolesor), and full 18k yellow gold, white gold, and Everose gold versions of the GMT-Master II. There are even some rare solid-gold models paved with diamonds and set with other precious gemstones such as rubies and sapphires.
The dial layout of the GMT is similar to other Rolex professional watch models. They feature a mix of round, triangular, and rectangular hour markers and Mercedes style hands, all coated with luminescence for maximum legibility in low light. Additionally, there's also the arrow-tipped 24-hour hand on the dial to use in conjunction with the corresponding hour graduations on the bezel, and a date window at 3 o'clock, accompanied by a Cyclops lens affixed to the crystal above it to magnify the date.
Although most GMT dials are black, Rolex has made a few other special dial designs such as the champagne and silver "Serti" dials set with diamonds and ruby hour markers, full diamond pavé dials, brown dials, blue dials, bright green anniversary-edition dials, and even meteorite dials.
The bidirectional rotating 24-hour marked bezel of the GMT-Master is the most recognizable design trait of this particular Rolex collection. Many of the bezels feature two colors - a design feature that is said to not just have aesthetic purposes, but also for increased functionality, as the colors serve to differentiate between daylight and nighttime hours. However, it is also said that the original concept for the bi-color bezel was simply to have an aviation-themed aesthetic, as it was reminiscent of the design of altitude indicators on older aircrafts such as the DC6, which is why there are also single-color GMT-Master bezel inserts.
The first reference came equipped with a blue and red bezel, where the red portion represented the approximated daytime hours while the blue contains the nighttime hours. The striking blue and red combo is iconic to the collection and it is frequently referred to as the Pepsi bezel. Other Rolex GMT bezel color combinations with famous nicknames include the black and red Coke bezel, the brown and tan Root Beer bezel, and the black and blue Batman bezel. There are also GMT-Master watches with monochromatic all-black bezels.
Aside from varying colors, the material used for the GMT-Master’s bezel insert has also evolved over the decades. The very first model featured a bezel insert fashioned from Bakelite, but due to the material’s proneness to cracking and the high amount of radiation emitted from the glowing radium numerals set into it, Rolex quickly replaced it with an insert made from anodized aluminum. Rolex continued to use aluminum until 2005 when the company turned to high-tech Cerachrom inserts. A Rolex exclusive alloy, Cerachrom is a hard ceramic material that is scratch-proof and resistant to fading, providing superb robustness and longevity.
Initially, Rolex stated that it would be impossible to create a bi-colored bezel in ceramic, and only offered an all-black version of their Cerachrom bezel insert. However, thanks to Rolex’s commitment to innovation and technology, two-color bezel inserts eventually joined the collection in the form of the "Pepsi" (red and blue), "Batman" (black and blue), and "Root Beer" (black and brown) editions. The combination of two-colors on a single-piece ceramic component was a world first.
Both the three-link Oyster bracelet and five-link Jubilee bracelet have been available on the collection over the years. Additionally, depending on the specific model, there are stainless steel, two-tone steel and gold, and solid gold variations of both bracelets.
As of 2019, Rolex has organized the GMT collection whereby the Oystersteel versions come exclusively equipped with Jubilee bracelets while the 18ct white gold, 18ct Everose gold, and Everose Rolesor versions are only fitted with Oyster bracelets.
There have been numerous automatic mechanical movements that have powered the various watches of the collection throughout its long and storied history. The primary difference between the classic GMT-Master and the GMT-Master II is that on the former, the 12-hour and 24-hour hands are coupled, enabling wearers to simultaneously display 2 time zones, while on the latter, the two hour hands can be set independently, enabling the second-generation GMT watches to display three different time zones at once.
The newest Caliber 3285 was introduced in 2018 as a new-generation Rolex GMT movement. Boasting 10 patent applications during development, the Caliber 3285 not only offers enhanced precision, reliability, and shock resistance but also an improved power reserve rating of 70 hours (compared to the previous 48 hours).
Positioned as the ultimate cosmopolitan watch for jet-setters and world travelers, it's no wonder that a number of celebrities favor these watches. Here are just a few of the famous people that wear the collection's emblematic design.
The very first (and rarest) GMT-Master is the ref. 6542 (aka "Pussy Galore”). Named after the character in the James Bond franchise, the ref. 6542 is considered the Holy Grail of vintage GMT watches. While the model is far out of reach for many collectors, it's still fun to admire and search for on the secondary market. Perhaps more popular, however, is ref. 1675, which will satiate any collector's desire for a vintage GMT-Master without quite as high of a price tag. It's relatively easy to find pre-owned in varying degrees of condition and multiple design variations.
Replacing ref. 1675 in the 1980s, the GMT-Master 16570 is also trending among enthusiasts for its classic design and higher-beat cal. 3075 movement, complete with hacking and a Quickset function. Rounding out the GMT-Master series as the last model before it was discontinued entirely and replaced with the GMT-Master II is ref. 16700, which remained in production long after its successor hit the market. Highly collectible, the ref. 16700 resides in many watch boxes and continues to be a favorite among many die-hard Rolex collectors.