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ROLEX GMT MASTER: A Quick History of the Iconic Pilots Watch

by Paul Symonds November 11, 2020 5 min read

ROLEX GMT MASTER: A Quick History of the Iconic Pilots Watch | Swiss Watch Trader

The Rolex GMT Master 1954 - 2020.

The Rolex GMT Master and Rolex GMT Master II is one of the most recognisable and desirable watches in the world. The Rolex GMT Master was released by Rolex in 1954 with the reference 6542 featured a luminous bakelite bezel insert and powered by the calibre 1036 automatic movement with GMT complication. The red/blue bakelite bezel was quickly replaced as it was easily cracked and in 1956 a metal bezel was introduced. The Rolex GMT Master evolved over the years to include the 1675, 16750, 16760, 16700, 16710 GMT Master II and 116710. The current versions of the Rolex GMT Master II include the 126710 BLRO Pepsi and 126710 BLNR 'Batgirl' - both of which are now only available on Jubilee bracelets. Please take some time to view our Rolex GMT Master and GMT Master II watches for sale.

OUR ROLEX GMT MASTER REVIEWS

 

The GMT Master 6542 'Pussy Galore' - James Bond Watch.

The Rolex GMT Master ref 6542 was released by Rolex in 1954 and originally featured a red/blue Pepsi bakelite bezel having been designed in collaboration is Pan-Am Airways. Specifically designed to to allow the wearer to track two different time zones, the GMT Master was issued by Pan-Am to their crews on long-haul flights. The GMT Master 6542 became know by collectors as the "Pussy Galore" having been worn by actress Honor Blackman in the 1964 film, Goldfinger.

 

The Rolex GMT Master 1675.

Rolex GMT Master 1675 - History

 

The Rolex GMT Master 1675 was in production from 1959 until 1980 and was initially only available with the iconic red/blue Pepsi bezel insert. It wasn’t until the early 1970’s that an all black bezel was made available. Prior to 1965 the GMT Master was powered by the Rolex calibre 1565 automatic movement - from 1965 the calibre 1575 was used. Early examples of the 1675 can be found with small GMT hands and gilt glossy dials. From around 1966 matte dials were fitted. Rare and collectable version of the Rolex GMT Master 1675 include the Pointed Crown Guard, exclamation point and the  MK1 Long E.

 

The Rolex GMT Master 16750.

Rolex GMT Master 16750 - History

 

The Rolex GMT Master 16750 was in production from 1981 until 1988 and introduced the quickset date feature with the Rolex calibre 3075 automatic movement. The GMT Master 16750 was available with the iconic red/blue Pepsi bezel insert or all black 24 hour bezel. Early examples of the GMT Master 16750 were fitted with matte dials with printed hour markers. These models are very rare and collectable. Later models feature gloss black dials with applied hour markers in white gold. The Rolex GMT Master 16750 was fitted with an acrylic crystal and available with of either oyster or jubilee bracelets.

 

The Rolex GMT Master 16760 II aka 'Fat Lady'.

Rolex updated the design of the GMT Master in 1983 when it release the GMT Master II 16760. This new model featured a sapphire crystal and updated 3085 automatic movement with quickset hour hand enabling the wearer to track a third time zone. The Rolex GMT Master II 16760 became know as the "Fat Lady" or "Sophia Loren" due to its extra thick case design and was only available with red/black Coke bezel insert.

 

The Rolex GMT Master 16700.

Rolex GMT Master 16700 - History

 

The Rolex GMT Master 16700 was released in 1988 and was powered by the Rolex calibre 3175 automatic movement with GMT and date functions. The red GMT hand enabled the wearer to track two times zones - ideal for pilots and frequent travellers. The GMT Master 16700 was a replacement for the GMT Master 16750 and intended to be a cheaper option to the GMT Master II 16710 which was released at the same time. The Rolex GMT Master 16700 was only available with either BLRO red/blue Pepsi bezel insert or all black, there was never a red/black Coke version. The GMT Master 16700 was eventually discontinued in 1999.

 

The GMT Master II 16710.

Rolex GMT Master II 16710 - History

 

The Rolex GMT Master II 16710 was in production from 1989 until 2007 and was available with the iconic red/blue Pepsi bezel insert, black/red Coke insert or all black version. The GMT Master II 16710 was powered by the Rolex calibre 3185 automatic movement with GMT and date functions. Prior to 1999 the GMT Master II 16170 was fitted with a SWISS T25 dial which featured Tritium hour markers and hands. In 1999 watches were fitted with the "Swiss Only” dial and from 2000 onwards all watches with fitted with SWISS MADE dials with SuperLuminova hour markers and hands. The last of the 16710’s were fitted with the 3186 automatic movement. 

 

The Rolex GMT Master II 116710LN.

Rolex GMT Master II 116710LN - History

 

Released in 2007 the Rolex GMT Master II 116710LN was the first GMT to feature a ceramic bezel and polished/brushed Oyster bracelet. Initially only available with the all black 24 hour bezel, the 116710 was powered by the Rolex calibre 3186 automatic movement with date and GMT complications. The 116710LN also saw the GMT hand change from red to green and was the first GMT Master to feature and engraved inner rehaut with serial number displayed at the 6 o'clock position.

 

The Rolex GMT Master II 116710 BLNR.

Rolex GMT Master II 116710 BLNR Batman - History

 

In 2013 the Rolex GMT Master II 116710 BLNR BATMANwas released with blue/black 24 hour bezel and blue GMT hand. The BLNR quickly became knows as the Batman due to the blue/black bezel. The 116710 was eventually discontinued in 2018.

 

The Rolex GMT Master II 126710 BLRO.

Rolex GMT Master II 126710 BLRO Pepsi

 

In 2018 Rolex released the GMT Master 126710 BLRO PEPSI with blue/red bezel in Cerachrom. This also saw the return of the and Jubilee bracelet. The GMT Master II 126710 is powered by the calibre 3285 automatic movement with GMT finction and 70 hour power reserve. The 126710 BLRO has a 40mm stainless steel case, sapphire crystal and a 100m depth rating. A year later Rolex released the GMT Master II 126710 BLNR with blue/black bezel and Jubilee bracelet. This version has since become known at the Batgirl.

 

BUYING A PRE-OWNED ROLEX GMT MASTER II

Our collection of pre-owned, used & second hand Rolex GMT Master II watches include the 16710 and 116710. At Swiss Watch Trader we specialise in selling only the very best examples of the classic Rolex GMT Master and GMT Master II and unless there is a valid reason, ALL our Rolex GMT watches will include their original boxes and papers. When buying any vintage or modern Rolex GMT Master II you need to ensure you are getting the very best example with as much of the original paraphernalia as possible. You should always look for a Rolex GMT Master that is complete with its original inner and outer boxes, warranty certificate or card, manuals, hang tags and if possible original sales receipt. For more information on how to buy a Rolex GMT Master II from Swiss Watch Trader and the the services we offer including buying a Rolex GMT Master II on finance, head over to the information section.

For more information on other Rolex watch models including the Sea Dweller, Daytona and Explorer, head over to the News & Reviews section. Please get in touch if you have any questions about any of our new, used, pre-owned and second hand Rolex GMT Master II watches.

VIEW OUR ROLEX GMT MASTER WATCHES FOR SALE

Contact Us today if you have a question about any of our Rolex Submariner watches for sale - we will be happy to help!

Paul Symonds
Paul Symonds


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