Hands-On Review Of The Rolex GMT-Master II – One Week With The Pilots Watch


In this review, I will tell you everything you need to know about the Rolex GMT-Master II; coming from an honest watch enthusiast, you will get to know all the pros and cons of this watch and find out if it is a good timepiece for you or not.

Although you might think obtaining a steel Rolex watch is impossible, people are actually able to purchase these watches, and they will be produced long enough so that most people who want one should be able to get one eventually.

So let’s take a hands-on look at this Rolex GMT-Master II with the reference number 16710.

Before I continue this review, I must tell you that this is my first review of any Rolex watch.

There could be some mistakes in the review but remember, I am not a watch expert (yet), just an enthusiast who loves to share his stories about watches, and I think you’re gonna like this one.

So sit tight and read on to find out my opinion about the Rolex GMT-Master II.

Table Of Contents

The Origins Of The Rolex GMT-Master

I won’t dive into the history of the Rolex brand because we all know how that started, and this post is not about the Rolex brand but one of their watches.

I will begin with a bit about the origin of the GMT-Master tho.

The American airline Pan Am came to the Rolex brand with a request; they wanted a watch for their trans-Atlantic pilots, which could show a dual timezone.

This would make it easier for them to check the time in the zone they were flying to or from.

Rolex listened to Pan Am, and in 1954 they introduced the Rolex GMT-Master with reference number 6542 to the world.

With the dual time zone complication, you had the ability to track local or home time, which was very convenient for commercial pilots.

The watch was able to show two time zones due to a 24-hour hand that completed one full rotation every 24 hours and the bi-directional bezel.

This bezel could be rotated to the left and right to allow the wearer to see the home time once they had adjusted the watch to the local time they had flown to.

The GMT-Master was one of Rolex’s greatest innovations; although being released in the same year as the Rolex Submariner, it was a little underappreciated.

There is no doubt tho that the watch had an impact on the whole watch industry.

Specifications Of The Rolex GMT-Master II

The Rolex GMT-Master II with reference 16710 was produced from 1989 to 2007 and came with this iconic red/blue “Pepsi” bezel.

This reference was also available with a black/red “Coke” or all-black bezel. You can pick up a GMT-Master II from $10.000 all the way up to $37.000 on the secondary market.

The GMT-Master II comes with a 40mm stainless steel case which houses the Rolex Calibre 3185 automatic movement; this movement has a couple features.

The GMT function allows you to set up multiple timezones and a date function and has a 48-hour power reserve.

This all is being protected by a sapphire crystal with a cyclops on it.

The watch is water resistant up to 100m, although I personally wouldn’t take it for a swim since its primary goal wasn’t to be used in water.

The GMT-Master II came on a stainless steel oyster bracelet I love; it is both comfortable and good-looking.

Here are all the specifications of this Rolex GMT-Master II.

  • Price; $10.000 – $37.000
  • Case Size; 40mm
  • Lug Width; 20mm
  • Movement; Rolex Calibre 3185
  • Power Reserve; 48 hours
  • Jewels; 31
  • Case/Bracelet; Stainless steel
  • Crystal; Sapphire
  • Dial; Black
  • Water Resistance; 100m (10 ATM)
  • Features; GMT-function, Date function, Luminous
No Detail Is Missed On A Rolex

How To Use The Dual Time Zone Function

There are four positions on the crown of a Rolex GMT-Master II to set up the watch.

GMT means, Greenwich Mean Time, this was the international standard of time from 1884 until 1972.

To explain the GMT function, I added a video showing each step to set up the watch.

The first position of the watch is position 0.

This is the position where the crown should be at all times when you are not setting up the timezone or date on the watch. When the crown is fully screwed in, it prevents moisture from getting into the watch.

Position 1, naturally pops out from position 0 when it is fully unscrewed from the case. You can manually wind up the watch without adjusting any settings or features in this position.

Position 2 is where the crown is pulled out to the first notch.

You can control and set up the 12-hour hand in this position, which jumps forwards or backwards in one-hour increments.

When turning the 12-hour hand, the date will jump forwards when the 12-hour hand passes midnight.

The GMT-Master II does not have a quick date set up feature, so when setting up the date, you got to do it by turning the 12-hour hand. In this position, the second hand will continue to work.

Position 3 is where the crown is pulled all the way out.

You can set up the traditional time by turning the minute hand in this position. The second hand will stop in this position so you can set up the local time.

When setting up the watch, you will put it in position 3 to set up the local time (12:00 GMT in this example) with the 24-hour GMT hand.

Then put the watch in position 2 to set up the local time (12:00 GMT) with the 12-hour hand.

Now your watch shows the local time with both the 12-hour and 24-hour hand.

You can now use the rotating bezel to show you the second time zone.

So if you want to show it the GMT+ 2 time, you will rotate the bezel backwards to add 2 hours to our local GMT time.

The 24-hour hand will show you the time of 14:00, which is GMT+ 2.

So rotating the bezel clockwise will lose time, and turning it counter-clockwise will gain time.

You can use the watch to set up 3 time zones as well.

To do this, you will first set up the GMT hand to the GMT time and the 12-hour hand to your local time zone. In this example, I set the GMT to 12:00 GMT time.

My local time is GMT+ 3, so the 12-hour hand will show 15:00.

Now, using the rotating bezel, I can show the time in New York, which is GMT- 4.

I rotate the bezel clockwise to line up with the GMT hand, indicating the time of 08:00 in New York.

So now I can see the GMT time of 12:00, my local time in Amsterdam of 15:00 and the time in New York, which is 08:00.

Nowadays, we have phones that switch from time zones when going elsewhere, but in the 1950s, this was a revolutionary feature for pilots and frequent travellers.

How to set up the GMT function on the Rolex GMT-Master

Is The Rolex GMT-Master II A Good Investment?

When you talk about Rolex, one of the first questions is; is this a good investment?

And like with any steel Rolex today, it was a good investment.

I wouldn’t suggest buying a used GMT-Master II to invest in the secondary market now.

The watch I had is selling now on Chrono24 for almost $20.000; that’s insane when the watch’s retail price was around $3.000 when the watch was released.

So if you had bought the watch from an AD (authorised dealer) and kept it all this time, well, then it is a good investment indeed.

I know I am not an expert on these watches, but I do not think anyone can predict the secondary market and its prices.

I personally think this Rolex madness will be over soon, and the prices will drop.

So for me buying a GMT-Master II would not be an investment unless I could get it for its MSRP and sell it with a profit on the secondary market.

But hey, that’s what most people would do.

Prices of the GMT-Master II Reference 16710 on Chrono24

The Rolex GMT-Master II On My Wrist

I gotta say I didn’t expect to have the opportunity to review any Rolex in 2022; I started this blog in march of this year and thought I needed way more time to get to some “luxury” pieces.

But here I am, wearing the Rolex GMT-Master II on my very own wrist. (How cool)

I always fall in love with “old” watches that tell a good story, and it’s not just the GMT-Master II.

Poke around any brand with some heritage, and you can uncover a trove of stories about their accomplishments.

Many of these stories are why I (and probably you) got you into this fascinating hobby.

So, the remarkable story behind this watch is the corporation between Rolex and Pan Am; it is just like the corporation between NASA and Omega, which introduced us to the Omega Speedmaster.

But today, we’re talking Rolex.

I myself do not really have a thing for brand new Rolex watches; you cannot obtain them in any way or are placed on a longer waiting list than a line at a busy amusement park in the middle of summer.

You get the point; getting a new watch from Rolex is almost impossible today.

But the older or vintage models are primarily obtainable on the secondary market if you’re willing to pay the price for them.

These watches come with the stories we love, and we must be willing to pay the price for them these days.

I do not think this madness of Rolex watches will continue forever tho, one day we will all calm down and be able to get our hands on a Rolex watch.

And that’s the thing with this GMT-Master II; I love how looking at the watch tells you a whole story about commercial air aviation.

When I put the watch on my wrist, I noticed one thing, it was made flawlessly.

No one thing is wrong or out of place with Rolex timepieces.

I know, I know everyone says that and first, I thought there would be some flaws to it.

But no, this watch is really made to perfection. And that’s what it is, a perfect GMT watch.

On the first day of wearing the watch, I noticed one thing, it was heavy on my wrist.

I am used to small and light watches, and this 40mm dual time zone wasn’t any of the two.

But that heaviness also said to me everything was done to make the watch well built.

I really love the time zone function on this watch, although I didn’t go flying anywhere.

I did use it to set up the time in Melbourne, Australia, so I knew if one of my buddies was awake or not.

This is something that a frequent air traveller would adore.

The Rolex GMT-Master II On My Wrist

My Overall Experience With The Rolex GMT-Master II

It is safe to say that there is actually nothing wrong with a GMT-Master II; it is a tremendous attractive watch that will be a conversation starter.

It will be one because of its history and because of its hype.

This hype is also the con of the watch; because of this hype, the prices are skyrocketing today; this is not only for the GMT-Master II but all steel Rolex models.

But I believe this hype will end, and more people will be able to get a Rolex for a reasonable price.

Thinking that the MSRP of this watch was around $3.000, you would be paying 5x more if getting one now.

Another con of the watch for me was the lack of a quick date set-up function; this means you need to turn the 12-hour hand to the desired date instead of just turning the date itself.

After wearing the watch for a week, I can say that this one goes onto my list of watches I need to acquire in the future.

I might go for the black/blue bezel by then, but I will make that decision later.

Jakub

The guy who loves to chat about watches.

All watch related