Rolex GMT Master II- Accurate Luxury
People generally think of Rolex watches as being first and foremost a luxury item. Sure, it tells time, but it’s more about status, and prestige than anything else, right? Actually, the Rolex GMT Master II was originally designed specifically as a non-luxury watch; it was created in 1954 as a working tool for pilots as a joint design venture between Rolex and then-industry-giant Pan Am.
The airline realized that their flight crews need to know both local time and Greenwich Mean Time while making in-flight calculations, and there was not reliable timepiece then available that would allow them to do this.
That’s how the Rolex GMT Master (now the Rolex GMT Master II) was born. The model was clearly successful; it has been in continuous production ever since its introduction and today, a certain variation of the model can boast of being the most expensive model in the company’s entire product line.
Read on for the full Rolex GMT Master II watches review.
As with all watches from this company, this model offers solid and reliable build quality. Due to its original design as a working tool, early models were available with stainless steel cases exclusively. The company now offers models that feature a steel-gold blend and all gold. They use sapphire crystal to cover the face, and newer models use high tech ceramics to make the bezel more resistant to scratches.
As with all of the company’s non-diving models, this model is water resistant to 100 meters.
As with most of the company’s products, you’ll find a Swiss-made automatic movement inside. This is a highly reliable, self-winding movement that features a complication that drives a fourth hand that allows you to see the time in the time zone of your choice. While it was intended to display GMT, as the name of the watch suggests, which time zone the fourth hand displays is entirely up to you.
The very idea of a fourth hand is innovative in and of itself, and that was the entire point of creating this model. With that fourth hand and a rotating bezel with 24 hours marked on it, a user could easily keep track of time in two time zones.
A few other modifications have been made to the model over the years, as well. Shoulders were added to protect the crown from damage, and the movement was modified over the years to simplify use. Over time, the company made gold models available and later, even models with diamonds.
As this watch was designed for a specific function, it won’t surprise you to find that all variations on the Rolex GMT Master II look very similar. They feature a bezel marked for 24 hours, a fourth hand to compute time in a separate time zone, and the date displayed on the face.
You do have the option of steel, steel and gold and all gold for the case, and the watch is available with a choice of several different face colors. The green face on the gold watch is quite attractive. In addition, if you like, (and can afford it!) you can get a model with plenty of diamonds.
All models are self-winding, so you won’t have any choices of movements, but they’re highly accurate and will run well for years with proper care.
As a highly complex mechanical timepiece, the Rolex GMT Master II does require some additional maintenance above and beyond what would be normally required for a wristwatch. You should wear it daily or store it in a watch winder in order to keep it working properly. You should rinse it in tap water and dry it carefully if you’ve had it in or near salt water.
Every five years or so, you should send it back to Rolex to have it serviced. This is a comprehensive process that involves disassembling the timepiece and examining the parts for wear. Worn parts are replaced, and good parts are cleaned. The watch is reassembled and lubricated and watertight seals are replaced. The timepiece is then thoroughly tested for both accuracy and water resistance before being cleaned and polished. When you get it back, it should look and work as though it was brand new.
The standard warranty is for two years from the date of purchase against defects in materials or workmanship. This is about average for the luxury watch industry; we see more two year warranties than any other.
Real defects are quite unusual, as these models are tested thoroughly at the factory before being sent to dealers. You will receive an additional two year warranty on your regular service work that the company recommends be done every five years.
We’ve seen a pretty wide range prices; they range from expensive to extremely expensive, depending on the model and options chosen You can find a basic stainless steel model for as little as $8000 or so, but the super-limited version with a gold case and diamonds is the most expensive model that the company offers, and it comes in at a little under $500,000.
Obviously, most of the prices are more reasonable, and we’ve seen this watch with a gold case for about $30,000 or so. If you don’t have to have gold or diamonds, and you prefer the stainless case, as the model was originally intended to have, you’ll find that the price of under $10,000 is quite reasonable, given the demand for this model.
Keep in mind that collectors really like this one, and prices for older versions can be quite high. We’re not suggesting that you buy one for investment purposes, but it’s quite possible that the watch you buy today could appreciate in value with time.
As with the rest of the company’s products you’ll find this watch for sale only at company-authorized dealers, at least on an official basis. The company likes to strictly control pricing and distribution of their products, and they don’t like to see them available in too many places, nor do they like to see anyone offering discounted models for sale.
Nevertheless, a few online retailers do have this model in stock, and you can save a little bit of money if you buy one that way. Keep in mind that some variations are quite limited; if you’re looking for the version with all the diamonds, it might be a bit hard to find.
While originally fashioned as a working tool for airline pilots, the Rolex GMT Master II has become a popular model for fans of the brand and watch fans in general. It’s an attractive, highly-functional, accurate timepiece that can be worn as a daily wristwatch or on special occasions.
It’s well made, somewhat affordable, and most versions are readily available for purchase. If you like watches with extra gadgets and a long history, the Rolex GMT Master II might be a good choice for you.