History of Rolex GMT Master - Chronoexpert

The first Pan Am flight was scheduled on October 1958 and took 111 passengers from New York to Paris.  This was the beginning of the aviation industry & only the elite could take planes at this time.  

Pan Am pilots needed a watch which could track multiple time zones at once, and Rolex was savvy enough to provide them with a watch that not only did the job, but looked the part.   

Rolex’ genius and the reason the brand caught on so well was its attention to detail.  Rolex had a great ability to take an idea, improve on it and take it to market. 

The first Rolex GMT was produced from 1954 – 59 reference 6542.  You can see the iterations of the model below, in 2007 the GMT II replaced the GMT.


A model which is popular amongst collectors is the Rolex-Master 16750, which you can see was released in the 1980’s.  There are two variations you can find in the market today, one model is a matte finish with gold hour markers and the other is a glossy version with white gold hour markers.  

The matte finish model with gold hour markers is considered the most rare & tends to be the most valuable for that reason.   If you find a Rolex with a matte dial then pay attention because it is rare to find since Rolex replaced the matte dials with gloss when they were serviced. 

Appearance of Rolex GMT Master

The bezel is the more recognisable part of a Rolex GMT Master.   One half was coloured blue & the other red to mark the difference between day and night.  Such a simple design feature as colouring half and half becomes more complex when you want to colour one piece.  Rolex did not want to make two halves of a bezel and stick them together, they wanted to make one solid piece and find a way of colouring them.  

After some innovation Rolex came up with a way to dye the entire bezel in red and then dye blue over the top of one half.    Both the red and blue contain pigmentation from the other side, but dyed in this way the bezel looks as if they are two contrasting colours on one piece. 

Another interesting feature of the earlier GMT Masters is the luminous material. The hour & minute hands were made from Triniam not radium which the newer models use.  Trinium ages & gives the older Rolex GMT Masters a vintage, aged look which is very popular with collectors. It makes each Rolex unique since there are different markings on every model. 

Inside Rolex GMT Master

The first Rolex GMT Masters up until 1965 were fitted with the Rolex Caliber 1565 movement. This changed to a 1575 which was then modified so that the movement would stop when the crown was pulled out.  This modification came in 1971. 

The 16750 that we mentioned is popular with collectors was released in the 1980’s with a new movement. It contains the caliber 3075 which means it has a quick-set date.   This means you can set the date by simply turning the crown which is a lot easier than moving the minute and hour hands around at the same time. 

When it comes to accuracey Rolex are one of the leaders. Their movements are certified as chronometers which is a certificate given by an external body. When you buy a Rolex you are buying both form & function.

We have Rolex GMT Master’s available in store right now, if you have any questions at all please get in touch with our friendly customer services team who are happy to help.

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