FROM FRATELLO WATCHES

Top 3 Rolex GMT-Master Watches


Many visitors to my blog, Fratellowatches.com, absolutely love Rolex watches. Whenever I write something about this brand, whether it’s about new product introductions at Baselworld or something involving vintage Rolex watches, I receive a great deal of commentary and questions. One of the most often-asked questions is,“What is your favorite Rolex model?”

My personal pick is the Rolex GMT-Master. Not only because of the interesting history it has, as the watch of Pan-Am pilots and NASA astronauts, nor even the fact that Tom Selleck had one on his wrist in “Magnum: P.I.,” but also because it is a very reliable and easy-to-use travel companion.

For this Fratello Friday article, I picked three of my favorite Rolex GMT-Master models. From the first models, with their bakelite turning bezels, to the current models that feature an independent extra hour hand and a ceramic turning bezel, there are plenty to choose from, as this watch has been on the market since 1954.

1. Rolex GMT-Master II Reference 16710Rolex GMT Master 16710 - collection

My first pick is the now discontinued model Rolex GMT-Master II (Reference 16710) with a blue-and-red bezel. This model was introduced in 1989 and was produced until 2007. Due to the independent hour hand and rotatable bezel, the wearer is able to read three different time zones.

Rolex GMT Master 16710 - red-black

With its variety of three different aluminum inlays for the bezels, and the ability to have them swapped every so often (either DIY or at a Rolex service center), it was a very versatile watch. Rolex aficionados have developed nicknames for the black-and-red-bezel version (Coke) and the blue-and-red bezel (Pepsi). The Oyster bracelet on this model had an all-matte finish and had a flip-lock on the clasp to ensure safety.

2. Rolex GMT-Master II Reference 116710LNRolex GMT Master II Ref. 116710-LN - green

In 2008, Rolex introduced the current lineup of GMT-Master II watches.  The case of the watch grew in both thickness and diameter and the lugs become a bit larger as well. The hour markers are bigger, and the watch featured a Trip-Lock crown (instead of the Twin-Lock crown it had in the past) and a ceramic bezel. The ceramic bezel will not discolor like the old aluminum bezels did and, more importantly, they won’t scratch.

The red GMT hand, which was so recognizable on the previous stainless-steel Rolex GMT-Master models, was replaced with a green one on this model. Also, the printing of the word “GMT-Master” on the dial is in green instead of white.

The bracelet of the Reference 116710LN GMT-Master II is quite different from the simpler and much criticized bracelets of old (although most of the criticism always seemed to come from people who didn’t like Rolex to begin with). The bracelet on the GMT-Master II 116710LN has a new clasp (with micro-adjustment and the capability to extend the bracelet) and a polished center link.Rolex GMT Master II Ref. 116710LN - black/blue -angle

The polished center link of the bracelet and the green GMT hand are the reason that this watch comes in at #2. If the bracelet had an all-matte finish, or if the GMT hand were still in red, this one could well be ranked first on my list. The new black-and-blue model that Rolex introduced at Baselworld 2013 is a handsome version, but I still prefer the green model; the blue color probably has to grow on me.

3. Rolex GMT-Master Reference 1675Rolex GMT Master Ref. 1675 - reclining

Not the oldest GMT-Master, but still a nice vintage watch (1959 – 1980) that can be found for relatively decent prices. Since there are so many of them still around, you can pick one you really like (with patina hands and hour markers or ones that are still white and fresh) in a good, wearable condition. The plexi crystal adds a fun element, but must be – of course – treated with care. It easily scratches.

These vintage Rolex GMT-Master Reference 1675 (Tom Selleck wore one in the TV series, “Magnum P.I.”) are quite a bit smaller than the later models and noticeably thinner. This reference has no independent moving hour hand; you have to use the bezel to read a second time zone. The extra hour is a 24-hour indicator.

Aside from missing the independent hour hand, the vintage 1675 has the looks of authentic “tool watch”  —  no glossy dials, polished center links or white-gold rings around the hour markers. However, I’d pick one of the modern versions over this one if I needed a watch for daily wear.

What is your favorite Rolex? Share your thoughts using the comment box below.

 

Tom Selleck wearing Rolex GMT-Master
Tom Selleck’s go-to watch on “Magnum P.I.” was a Rolex GMT-Master.

This article was originally published on August 16, 2013, and has been updated.

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42 Responses to “Top 3 Rolex GMT-Master Watches”

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  1. I own all three, and you have come to the realization that there are really three distinct watches not just one

    Your number one choice is my daily wearer, your number two choice is my date night watch with my wife and your number 3 choice is my weekend during the day watch,

    Reply
  2. Carlos Martínez

    I love my 1675 Pepsi, I bought it in 1980 in L.A. it is a pleasure to wear it !!

    Reply
  3. William Todd

    Vintage in Gold with a black nipple dial hidden clasp is what I prefer. Beautiful

    Reply
  4. O. Matos

    I bought my GMT new in Andorra. On Nov. 1970 . I paid approximately $175. Used daily until 1987 since ocationally. Only had it cleaned oiled one time after 10 years . It keeps great time and will put in my will to be given to my son. I have had many other nice watches but my GMT. Remains my favorite!!!

    Reply
  5. Wayne Silva

    I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A GMT MASTER FAN SINCE 1967. THE WATCH HAS NEVER LET ME DOWN. ACTUALLY, I LIKE THEM ALL. THE ONLY REASON I HAVE BOUGHT OTHER GMT IS BECAUSE CLOSE TO 50 YRS. I GOT TIRED OF LOOKING AT THE SAME WATCH. ON MY WRIST I WANTED A CHANGE.
    WAYNE IN ALBUQUERQUE

    Reply
  6. meir barac

    MY FACORITE IS 16710 THAT I OWN SINCE 2009 AND IS MY FAVORITE AT ALL . BEST FOR ADVENTURE AS WELLAS DRESSY.

    Reply
  7. Peter Vogelsang

    All great wristwatches. The 116710 is an awful lot of quality and excellence for the money, in the context of the current market.

    On my smaller wrist, the Explorer II is pretty close and a great deal to buy in the secondary market.

    Reply
  8. Sivaramen MARDAY

    My favorite Rolex Is Day Date Platinum & Ice Blue Dial / Yacht-Master rubber strap everose gold

    Reply
  9. Skyler Van Dyke

    I purchased my GMT Master (Pepsi) while on R&R in Hong Kong from Viet Nam in 1972 for less than $200. I had it serviced every few years and recently had it completely refurbished. I have worn it nearly every day for all these years. I bought my son a GMT II a few years ago while he was in high school and learning to fly and recently purchased a mid size steel and gold datejust for my wife and another for my daughter. If you buy something you really like that is quality and take care of it you will get a nice psychic reward every time you look at it and in this case, everyone in the family will know what time it is! I have no desire for a new model because the old one is “my watch.” Whoever said “forever is not as long as it used to be” was referring to relationships, not his Rolex.

    Reply
  10. Pat Freel

    My first Rolex was a 1675 I ordered from the Artland Watch Co in Hong Kong via the Army PX while stationed in Vietnam. I sold it a few years ago and bought an Explorer II. I really want a new one with Pepsi bezel but as long as it is offered only in white gold, I will have to wait until Rolex releases one in SS.

    Reply
  11. Paul Malcuria

    I have collected rolexs sence 69 have received first president leather strap new for marriage it sold new for 700.00 then got gold bracelet next yr cost 900.00 in 74 bought first gmt as gold as. Rootbear. 567.00 new then in 76 submariner new 1200.0 then another president Champlin dial then datejust salmon dial Aruban numbers then new as gold gmt master then submariner no date. Then 18k Cellini I just bought new old stock coke gmt master coke stick 8136 and paid more for that then all the others combined can’t believe the prices or all the talk over t stick dial bs. Thanks paul

    Reply
  12. Been wearing my Rolex GMT Master daily since I got it in 1969. Even been to the bottom of Monterrey Bay scuba diving!

    Reply
  13. Ken Rensby

    Magnum PI rocked it! If you can’t accept that Magnum PI was at least as cool as Chuck Norris and so whatever watch he chose to wear must be it then you’re missing the point. Gotta go with the 1675

    Reply
    • Dan Feldman

      No, the “Batman” is the worst color combo Rolex has put out….The Non-Ceramic Pepsi is the best…no contest

      Reply
    • MrTissot

      I agree! GMT Master II ‘Batman’ is the best of all is it is the only model with the correct colours for day and night

      Reply
  14. Bought the GMT IIC TT 2 years ago and found a nice 1675 last year. Both are awesome watches that wears really well on the wrist, you know, they just look and feel “right”. Amazingly the 1675 was serviced 10 years ago according to the previous owner and when I took it to my watchmaker he said it does need a service yet and it runs within COSC!

    Reply
  15. Ian black

    I have a GMT Master 11 steel and yellow gold which I got about a year ago. A real beauty. Love it. A week ago I bought a new steel submariner with the green face and green ceramic bezel and now having a tough time which watch I like the best. Only problem with the gold one is that the braclet is easy to scratch. LOVE ROLEX. It took me 69 year to finally get one. Now I have two.

    Reply
  16. I have the 116710ln which is my daily wear. Awesome watch and so comfortable with the glide clasp. Independent hand is fantastic for my extensive travel. A little bit of bling with the polished links.

    But for my special occasions, it has to be my pepsi 16750. Such a pretty thing!!! A lot lighter and no independent hand, but just stunning….i can stop looking at it!!

    Reply
  17. Aspirin

    I love 2 to 3 pcs. of them, including the discontinuous Coke and the existing model of Sub the fatty lugs, but the price now is sky high, that’s why I bit lean to Omega.

    Reply
  18. Purchased to do deep decompression diving training with British navy frog men in 1970, my RED SUB stayed on my wrist 24/7 for over 40 years. An old friend who went with me 250 feet below the surface, it will always be my most treasured Rolex.

    Reply
  19. Purchased my GMT Master in Italy in 1969. Forty five years later it’s still running strong.

    Reply
  20. I had 11 Rolex watches starting back in 65 with my first one presented as a gift for my 15 birthday. It was a Cosmograph pre Daytona with a manual movement so I sold it an purchased a Submariner.Nobody would know back then the prices of today watches.I had a Cellini in white gold,3 submariners,basic,date, sea dweller,also a stainless steel and gold GMT a Precision,a Day Date, and 2 Explorers. My next one will be a Pro Hunter in black and gold.

    Reply
  21. Bill Edwards

    The Steinhart Ocean 1 GMT Blue Red is far better and a tenth the price.
    You’ve all been done !

    Reply
  22. Brought my 16710 “coke” in 1999 for £2300. Now valued at £4400. Never been off my wrist for more than a couple of mins. Don’t think I’ll ever replace it. The independent hour movement, and the interchangeable bezel is superb.
    I replaced my bezel last year (£32 whilst you wait at Rolex London), and it looks brand new again.

    THE watch.

    Reply
  23. john gill

    From the first models, with their bakelite turning bezels, to the current models that feature an independent extra hour hand and a ceramic turning bezel, there are plenty to choose from.

    Reply
  24. Hugo Auler

    I own the Rolex GMT-Master II Reference 16710 and the Rolex GMT-Master II Reference 116710LN.
    I tough decision to make, which one is the best!!!

    Reply
  25. Nick Orloff

    I’ve been very happy with my 16710 for the 3 or so years that I’ve owned it, but I’ve recently found out about the 16760 – Sophia Loren – so I’m contemplating a change.

    Regardless of the model, as someone who travels regularly, the Rolex GMT is the BEST watch when you’re moving from one time zone to the next, the easy of use is second to none.

    Reply
  26. I usually wear my favorite, the 116710LN. I love the green hand and I think it’s the best compromise between a sport watch and a elegant one. Plus, I also love the polished bracelet, it distinguish at the first sight the GMT by the Submariner..

    Reply
  27. Stuart Campbell

    I am currently wearing a steel and gold Rolex Submariner with the ceramic bezel I have had for 3 years. People have commented on how nice it looks. I still love my first Rolex, a stainless steel day date bought in 1975. The only dislike I have with that model is the glass which easily scratches. Rolex will not retro fit this model with a sapphire crystal glass unfortunately.

    Reply
  28. I’m a huge fan of the YachtMaster. I received mine as a gift about two years ago. Just a little over 10 years old, and is fantastic shape. The new YachtMaster II isn’t bad looking either.

    Reply
  29. I love the “ghosting” on the bezels of the 1675 and 16710. That’s something we’ll miss on the new ceramic 116710, although I’m lusting the for the “Batman.”

    Reply
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