Rolex GMT-Master II Basics: History, Production & Specifications

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For those who traverse time zones or simply admire precision in timekeeping, the Rolex GMT-Master II is a watch of choice. Known for its unique ability to track multiple time zones, this watch has a rich history and intricate production process that speaks volumes about its quality. In this article, we’ll take a journey through the origins, craftsmanship, and key features of the GMT-Master II. Whether you’re a globe-trotter or a watch enthusiast, this is your starting point to understand this iconic timepiece

What’s The History Of The Rolex GMT-Master II?

The GMT-Master, the predecessor to the GMT-Master II, was introduced by Rolex in 1955. It was originally developed in collaboration with Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) to meet the needs of airline pilots who required a watch that could display multiple time zones simultaneously. The GMT-Master featured a 24-hour hand and a rotating bezel with a 24-hour scale.

  1. Introduction of the GMT-Master II: In 1982, Rolex introduced an updated version called the GMT-Master II. The GMT-Master II offered an improved movement with an independent hour hand, allowing for the adjustment of the local time without affecting the 24-hour hand or the reference time. This feature made it easier for travellers to quickly adjust the time to a new time zone without disrupting the accuracy of the watch.
  2. Ceramic Bezel Insert: In 2005, Rolex introduced the GMT-Master II with a ceramic bezel insert, replacing the previous aluminium bezel insert. The ceramic bezel insert, known as the Cerachrom bezel, was highly scratch-resistant and offered improved durability and colour longevity.
  3. Maxi Dial and Triplock Crown: In 2007, Rolex updated the GMT-Master II by introducing a larger dial with larger hour markers and hands, known as the Maxi Dial. Additionally, the Triplock crown system, which was already used in other Rolex models, was added to enhance the watch’s water resistance.
  4. Parachrom Hairspring and Chromalight Luminous Material: In 2007, Rolex equipped the GMT-Master II with a Parachrom hairspring, a type of hairspring made from a paramagnetic alloy, which improved the watch’s resistance to magnetic fields and temperature variations. Furthermore, Rolex introduced Chromalight, a long-lasting luminescent material that offered improved visibility in low-light conditions.
  5. Cerachrom Pepsi and Batman: Over the years, Rolex has introduced several notable GMT-Master II variations. In 2005, Rolex unveiled the GMT-Master II with a red and blue Cerachrom bezel insert, often referred to as the Pepsi bezel. In 2013, Rolex introduced the GMT-Master II with a black and blue Cerachrom bezel insert, nicknamed the Batman. These models quickly became highly sought-after by collectors.
  6. Other Variations: Rolex has released numerous other versions of the GMT-Master II, including different bezel and dial colour combinations, such as the black and brown Root Beer bezel and the green Hulk bezel. Each variation offers a unique aesthetic and appeal to different watch enthusiasts.

What Type Of Watch Is Rolex GMT-Master II?

The Rolex GMT-Master II is a luxury mechanical wristwatch. It falls under the category of professional watches, specifically designed for professionals who frequently travel across different time zones, such as pilots and frequent travellers. The GMT-Master II is known for its dual-time zone functionality, which allows the wearer to keep track of multiple time zones simultaneously.


The GMT-Master II is a self-winding watch, meaning it is powered by the natural motion of the wearer’s wrist. It features a mechanical movement, specifically the Rolex Caliber 3285, which is manufactured in-house by Rolex. The movement provides precise timekeeping and includes the GMT function, allowing the user to independently adjust the local time without affecting the 24-hour hand or the reference time.

What Is Special About The GMT-Master II?

One of the defining features of the GMT-Master II is its ability to display multiple time zones simultaneously. It has an independently adjustable 24-hour hand that allows the wearer to track a second time zone. This feature is particularly useful for frequent travellers or individuals who work across different time zones.

  1. Rolex Caliber 3285 Movement: The GMT-Master II is equipped with the Rolex Caliber 3285, a highly accurate and reliable mechanical movement developed in-house by Rolex. The movement features a Parachrom hairspring, which enhances resistance to shocks and magnetic fields, and provides excellent timekeeping precision.
  2. Cerachrom Bezel Insert: Rolex introduced the Cerachrom bezel insert for the GMT-Master II, which is made of extremely durable and scratch-resistant ceramic material. This bezel insert offers excellent colour longevity and is resistant to fading caused by UV rays or wear and tear.
  3. Robust Construction: The GMT-Master II is built to withstand demanding conditions. It features a solid and water-resistant case, a screw-down crown, and a Triplock system to enhance water resistance. It is a robust watch designed to endure the rigours of daily wear and various activities.
  4. Iconic Designs and Colour Combinations: The GMT-Master II has become known for its distinctive designs and colour combinations. The Pepsi bezel, with its red and blue colour scheme, and the Batman bezel, with its black and blue combination, have gained cult status among watch enthusiasts. Rolex continually introduces new variations and limited editions, further adding to the appeal and collectability of the GMT-Master II.
  5. Prestige and Heritage: Rolex is synonymous with luxury, craftsmanship, and prestige. The GMT-Master II carries the heritage of Rolex’s aviation roots and its association with professional pilots. It is a symbol of excellence, reliability, and timeless style.

The combination of its dual time zone functionality, advanced movement, durable construction, and iconic designs makes the Rolex GMT-Master II a highly sought-after and special timepiece among watch connoisseurs and enthusiasts worldwide.

💡 You might like this guide: How Much Is A GMT-Master II Watch?

What Are The Key Specifications Of A Rolex GMT-Master II?

The GMT-Master II is known for its rotatable 24-hour bezel. The bezel is typically made of ceramic (Cerachrom) and features a 24-hour scale for tracking a second time zone. Different colour combinations are available, such as the Pepsi (red and blue), Coke (red and black), and Batman (blue and black).

  1. Case Size: The GMT-Master II typically has a case size of 40mm in diameter. However, Rolex has released larger versions in recent years, such as the GMT-Master II Batman and the GMT-Master II Root Beer, which have a case size of 42mm.
  2. Materials: Rolex offers a variety of materials for the GMT-Master II, including stainless steel, two-tone steel and gold (Rolesor), solid 18k yellow gold, solid 18k white gold, and solid 18k Everose gold (Rolex’s proprietary rose gold alloy).
  3. Bezel: The GMT-Master II is known for its rotatable 24-hour bezel. The bezel is typically made of ceramic (Cerachrom) and features a 24-hour scale for tracking a second time zone. Different colour combinations are available, such as the Pepsi (red and blue), Coke (red and black), and Batman (blue and black).
  4. Movement: The GMT-Master II is equipped with a self-winding mechanical movement developed and manufactured by Rolex. In recent years, Rolex has used the Caliber 3285 movement for the GMT-Master II, which offers enhanced precision, reliability, and a power reserve of approximately 70 hours.
  5. Dial and Hands: The GMT-Master II features a variety of dial and hand configurations. The dial is typically available in black, white, or other colours, with luminescent hour markers and hands for visibility in low-light conditions. The 24-hour hand is typically colour-matched with the bezel.
  6. Water Resistance: The GMT-Master II is designed to be a robust and water-resistant watch. It typically has a water resistance rating of 100 metres (330 feet), which allows for everyday wear and occasional water activities.
  7. Bracelet: The GMT-Master II comes with a bracelet that complements the case material. Rolex offers various bracelet options, including the Oyster bracelet (stainless steel or two-tone), the Jubilee bracelet (two-tone or solid gold), and the Oysterflex bracelet (a flexible rubber strap with a metal core).

Who Wears GMT Master II Rolexes?

The GMT-Master II was originally developed in collaboration with Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) for their pilots, who needed a watch to track multiple time zones during their flights. Even today, pilots continue to appreciate the GMT-Master II’s dual-time zone functionality and reliability.

  1. Travellers and Global Professionals: The GMT-Master II’s ability to display multiple time zones makes it a favoured choice among frequent travellers, global professionals, and those who frequently work across different time zones. It allows them to easily track and manage time differences while travelling or conducting business internationally.
  2. Watch Collectors and Enthusiasts: GMT-Master II watches, particularly those with unique bezel colour combinations or limited editions, are highly sought-after by watch collectors and enthusiasts. They appreciate the history, craftsmanship, and iconic design of the GMT-Master II, and often seek to add these watches to their collections.
  3. Business Professionals and Executives: The GMT-Master II’s combination of functionality and luxury makes it a popular choice among business professionals and executives. Its elegant design and versatility allow it to be worn in both formal and casual settings, making it suitable for various business occasions.
  4. Rolex Enthusiasts and Brand Aficionados: Many individuals who appreciate the Rolex brand and its reputation for quality and prestige choose to wear the GMT-Master II as a symbol of their affinity for Rolex watches. They appreciate the craftsmanship, reliability, and timeless style that Rolex represents.

💡 Read more: How To Adjust & Set The Time On Your Rolex GMT-Master II

How Can You Spot A Fake Rolex GMT-Master II?

Spotting a fake Rolex GMT-Master II can be challenging, as counterfeiters have become increasingly sophisticated in replicating the appearance of genuine Rolex watches. However, there are several indicators that can help you identify a potential fake, including too cheap of a price and being too light in weight.

  1. Price: If the price seems too good to be true or significantly lower than the market value of a genuine Rolex GMT-Master II, it should raise suspicions. Counterfeit watches are often sold at significantly lower prices than authentic Rolex watches.
  2. Cyclops Lens: The Cyclops lens, which magnifies the date window, is a distinct feature of Rolex watches. In a genuine Rolex GMT-Master II, the date window should have a magnification of 2.5x, and the date should be aligned perfectly within the window. Check for any inconsistencies or misalignments in the date window of a suspected fake.
  3. Movement and Ticking: Rolex watches use precise automatic movements that result in a smooth and continuous sweeping motion of the second hand. A fake GMT-Master II might exhibit a ticking motion or a less fluid movement of the second hand.
  4. Cyclops Date Magnification: On a genuine Rolex GMT-Master II, the Cyclops lens should magnify the date clearly and without any distortions. A fake watch may have a lower-quality magnification or uneven magnification that distorts the date.
  5. Logo and Engravings: Pay attention to the Rolex crown logo on the dial, the case back, and the bracelet clasp. Genuine Rolex watches have finely detailed and well-executed engravings, whereas fakes might have inconsistencies, blurry lettering, or shallow engravings.
  6. Weight and Materials: Authentic Rolex watches are made with high-quality materials and have a solid, substantial feel. Counterfeit watches might use inferior materials, resulting in a lighter weight or a noticeable difference in quality.
  7. Serial and Model Numbers: Genuine Rolex GMT-Master II watches have unique serial and model numbers engraved between the lugs on the side of the case. Counterfeit watches may have poorly engraved or incorrect numbers, or they may lack them altogether.
  8. Authorised Dealers and Certificates: Purchase your Rolex GMT-Master II from authorised Rolex dealers to ensure authenticity. Genuine Rolex watches are sold with original packaging, warranty cards, and other accompanying documents. Verify the authenticity of the dealer and inspect the provided paperwork for any discrepancies.

⌚️ For more information, check out this guide on how to spot a fake Rolex.

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