Exploring The History Of Rolex's GMT-Master II - Ref. 16710 & Ref. 16713
Travelling in today's digital age is all based around convenience. From the way we check in for our flight, how we consume in-flight entertainment, to mapping out routes once we arrive - this can all be done via our cellphone. No surprise it's become second nature to pull out our cellphone, open an app and find out what time it is back home. Well, technically a more convenient way is wearing a watch that has multiple timezone tracking capabilities. With a quick glance down at your wrist, you’ll be able to distinguish between your local time and home time. In our opinion, this is the most stylish way to travel.
A watch that ticks all the boxes is the Rolex GMT-Master II, first launched in 1989 as an older brother to the original GMT-Master. The GMT-Master was introduced in 1954 with reference 6542, and it had two groundbreaking innovations at the time. It was the first watch to feature a dual time zone complication along with the now iconic Rolex “cyclops” which is a term used for the magnifying bubble to better read the date. As mentioned the GMT-Master can track two time zones since the local hour hand and the GMT-hand move together around the dial. The second time zone is tracked by setting the rotating 24-hour bezel, so the correct hour within the second time zone is lined up with the hand. The GMT-Master II can indicate three time zones using the local hour hand and the GMT-hand since they are set independently from one another. This means the rotational 24-hour bezel can be used at will to indicate a third time zone.
Popular reference numbers for the GMT-Master II include the steel 16710; the two-tone yellow gold and steel reference 16713 and the full yellow gold reference 16718. The GMT Master-II is most well known for its various bezel iterations and nicknames - specifically named after sodas. Black and red “Coke”, blue and red “Pepsi”, brown and champagne “Rootbeer” and there is also a monochromatic black bezel which doesn’t have a nickname.
Many collectors are in agreement that the 16710 is the last classic Rolex GMT due to modern releases changing the case dimensions and mechanics too much. In 2005, Rolex gave the GMT-Master II a modern upgrade. The updates included a larger “triplock” winding crown which featured across all of Rolex’s dive watches; they also increased the case size, hand size, and hour markers. The bezel was also composed of ceramic to make it scratch and fade proof. Finally, the bracelet saw a large change which incorporated solid center links and a new clasp design.
If you’re on the hunt for a GMT-Master II, they’re not terribly difficult to find in today’s market, but you do have to be careful on what to look out for. Many have been serviced and may have replacement parts such as the bracelet, bezel, hands or even dial. Be sure to check with the seller and buy the best condition possible rather than having papers, boxes and tags. The example pictured is from 1990 which features its original bracelet and bezel. While it does have service hands by Rolex, you can’t even tell unless you’re under a loupe. The overall condition, such as the one pictured, is what you should be looking for.
Get in touch with our team today if you are looking for a Rolex GMT-Master II.
Photography by Rachel Soh