Referred to as the beginning of the jet age, the early 1950s saw great advances in aviation with planes that could fly further distances and travelers hungry to explore other parts of the world. The popular airline of that era, Pan Am, realized that their pilots needed to keep track of their home time as well as their local time as they flew through multiple time zones during their flights. In response to this, Rolex presented the GMT-Master watch in 1955 allowing pilots, other aviation professionals, and globetrotters to identify the time in two separate time zones simultaneously via an extra 24-hour hand and two-tone 24-hour graduated bezel.
A distinguishing feature of the Rolex GMT-Master and GMT-Master II collections are the two-tone bezels. Not only aesthetically pleasing to look at, the duo of colors serves to differentiate between the day and night hours of the wearer’s home time. The colors of the bezels have become so iconic that they have gained their own nicknames within the Rolex watch collecting community. The blue/red is the “Pepsi”, the black/red is the “Coke”, the brown/yellow is the “Root-Beer” and the black/blue is the “Batman”. Rolex does also offer GMT-Master II watches that sport a single black color bezel for a sleeker style.
The Redesigned GMT-Master II
In 2005, Rolex presented a redesigned model of their famous pilot watch. The most current version of the GMT-Master II has some very distinct improvements over its predecessors. Firstly, the latest GMT-Master II watches sport the very popular scratch and fade resistant Cerachrom ceramic bezels replacing the aluminum bezel inserts of older models. Although the new Rolex GMT-Master II watches maintain their 40mm Oyster case size, they actually look and fit larger thanks to the wider lugs and bigger crown guards. Also new to the current GMT-Master II collection is the “Maxi” dial with larger lume plots for hour markers and broader hands, both lending a sportier look to the Rolex pilot’s watch. Other improvements include the Triplock screw-down crown for enhanced waterproofness and the upgraded Oyster bracelet with center polished links and updated clasp.
Buying Pre-Owned Rolex GMT-Master & GMT-Master II Watches
For those looking for more traditional Rolex GMT-Master models, the secondary market of used Rolex watches is where to find discontinued references and vintage pieces. For instance, the famed “Pepsi” bezel is now only offered on a full 18k white gold model in Rolex’s current catalog, while pre-owned Rolex GMT-Master collections offer more rugged and affordable stainless steel versions.