The GMT Master II evolved from Rolex’s original GMT Master, which they developed in collaboration with Pan Am in 1954. In 1983, Rolex decided to significantly overhaul the model, and the GMT Master II was born. In addition to an all-new movement, the GMT Master II received a couple key updates. The models come equipped with a 24-hour GMT hand and independent quickset hour hand. Their extra thick case and large crown guards give the watch the nickname “Fat lady.” Buying a Rolex GMT Master II watch is a great way to invest in a model that’s equally functional and stylish. Shop our extensive selection of exceptional used Rolex GMT Master II watches for sale at Crown & Caliber.
In the 1940s and 50s, intercontinental travel was growing in popularity. As a result, pilots began traveling through multiple time zones more frequently. This spurred Rolex to partner with Pan Am and develop the original GMT Master in 1954. Over the years, aviation and air travel have continued to change and expand. In turn, so have the needs of pilots. In the 1980s, Rolex made a significant update to the model, and the GMT Master II was born.
The GMT Master II officially debuted in 1983 with the Ref. 16760. A few key characteristics distinguish the GMT Master II from the original GMT Master. First, the GMT Master II is equipped with a 24-hour GMT hand. This allows the wearer to read three different time zones. In addition, it contains a brand new movement with an independent quickset hour hand. This adjusts to the local time without disrupting the second hand, minute hand, or 24-hour GMT hand. The GMT Master II also features an extra thick case and large crown guards. These have given the watch its nickname, the “Fat Lady.”
Just five years later in 1988, Rolex released another variation of the GMT Master II: the Ref. 16710. The most notable change from the original model was a slimmer design. In 1999, the manufacture of the original GMT Master ended. Though the GMT Master II continues to be in production today, the original GMT Master remains popular in the pre-owned market.
In 2007, Rolex made a significant update to the GMT Master II with the introduction of the Ref. 116710. The model received a complete redesign with the addition of a triplock crown, anti-reflective cyclops lens, green 24-hour hand, maxi dial, ceramic bezel, new bracelet and movement, as well as a Rolex engraving on the inner bezel ring.
Another iconic feature of the GMT Master II, from the original Ref. 16760 to the latest models, is dual-colored bezels. These distinctive color combinations have also garnered unique nicknames. Two of the most common variations are the red and black “Coke,” and the blue and black “Batman.” There’s also a brown and gold version called the “Root Beer.” This combination first debuted in the 1960s on the original GMT Master, Later, Rolex retired it when the GMT Master II launched in 1983. After a 35-year hiatus, the brand finally re-introduced the beloved “Root Beer” option at Baselworld in 2018. In addition, Rolex also offers the GMT Master II with a more classic, sold black bezel. Still, the most popular iteration continues to be the original the blue and red colorway. The design initially reflected the signature hues of Pan Am but has since been dubbed the “Pepsi.”
True to its original purpose, the GMT Master II is still beloved and widely used by pilots today. It boasts incredible functionality for those looking to display more than two time zones. However, it also makes a great watch for daily wear.
Video: Rolex History
Brush up on your Rolex history with the stories behind your favorite brand.
Interested in learning more about Crown & Caliber's luxurious pre-owned watches? View our YouTube channel here.
Selling Your Rolex GMT Master II Watches
Crown & Caliber makes selling a Rolex GMT Master II watch easy and rewarding. Let us assist you in the selling process and help you receive the highest possible value for your Rolex GMT Master II. Get your Rolex GMT Master II quote