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 16710
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.
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 116710LN
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.
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 1675
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.
This article was originally published on August 16, 2013, and has been updated.
I have a GMT master black face and complete black bezel I’m trying to find out how much it’s worth unfortunately I was given it as a gift 20 years ago with no box or papers.
Any info would be very much appreciated
1967rolex oyster submariner with red and blue benzel
Well I bought a Gmt Master in 2001 and was lucky to find one….and it’s been a proper watch. Everyone who sees it loves or comments on it in a positive way
ROLEX GMT put Rolex on the map….if you showed people a selection of watches it’s the Gmt that would stand out. Well done Rolex.
Commitment for life a marriage in Heaven GMT Master 1675 quality at its best….
Just a quick note, regarding the introduction of the GMT-MASTER II, six digit serial numbers made its appearance at Baselworld 2005 with an 18k Gold, followed by two-tone in 2006 and Stainless Steel in 2007
I had a GMT which I bought in Berlin in 1984 (for $600, iirc) and sold in 200 for $1000! I had wanted a Rolex Submariner for a decade, but switched to the GMT as I traveled a lot and liked the 2nd hand and 24 hour bezel. I miss it, though when my daughter was little I’d stopped wearing it after the bracelet scratched her gentle skin a few times. I joke that my watches mirror my life arc… I went from a Rolex to a Timex (Ironman, for the last 20 years). I would love to have another one someday, but I have gotten used to multi-function lightweight watches for utility. I guess I am a heretic, though I do have a lovely Hamilton with skeleton back and I love watching the dials turn.
Just went Rolex GMT Master shopping. A good, used, complete set is now going for $8K or more for most models. I went for a GMT Master 16700, which only came in Pepsi (aside from a few black ones). They made this model for years after introducing the 16710 (with independent second hour hand), but is still much more rare and I think the better investment. The 16700 has a sapphire crystal and a quick set date, two features I decided I can’t live without in a watch that I actually wear. I also want add a 16760 “Fat Lady”, the first GMT Master II to my collection. It was the first GMT to have a sapphire crystal and feature a Coke bezel. Obviously, I’m a bit of a collector. If I were just buying one and wanted to wear it on a daily basis I agree with the author’s first two choices. The 116710 is heavy and completely lacks any vintage vibe. It will hardly age and my guess is that it will hardly appreciate. I like my watches to age and become more valuable over time like their wearer.
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,
I love my 1675 Pepsi, I bought it in 1980 in L.A. it is a pleasure to wear it !!
Vintage in Gold with a black nipple dial hidden clasp is what I prefer. Beautiful
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!!!
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
MY FACORITE IS 16710 THAT I OWN SINCE 2009 AND IS MY FAVORITE AT ALL . BEST FOR ADVENTURE AS WELLAS DRESSY.
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.
My favorite Rolex Is Day Date Platinum & Ice Blue Dial / Yacht-Master rubber strap everose gold
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.
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.
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
Been wearing my Rolex GMT Master daily since I got it in 1969. Even been to the bottom of Monterrey Bay scuba diving!
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
I pick the newer ceramic bazel blue-black version (batman)
No, the “Batman” is the worst color combo Rolex has put out….The Non-Ceramic Pepsi is the best…no contest
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
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!
I meant “it doesn’t”
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.
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!!
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.
16710 Pepsi and 116710BLNR are the two best. I own both.
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.
Robert: that is very cool, 40 years !
Purchased my GMT Master in Italy in 1969. Forty five years later it’s still running strong.
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.
The Steinhart Ocean 1 GMT Blue Red is far better and a tenth the price.
You’ve all been done !
You really think so?
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.
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.
‘i love my gmt 2 it beter than my old sub witch i sold
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!!!
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.
I own the vintage GMT 1675 series for 27 years. The best!!
I own the older model “Pepsi GMT”. In my opinion, this is ‘THE WATCH’. None finer!
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..
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.
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.
iam wearing two tone gmt master 2 ceramic bezel
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.”