GMT Master vs GMT Master II

GMT Master II

This is Rolex’s classic watch for pilots. When the GMT Master II came onto the market about ten years ago, it was probably the greatest redesign of a model of great history. The lovely new ceramic insert (fade and scratch resistant) for the bezel, its weightier case and more aggressive looking dial brought to bear a new era for the pilot’s watch.

What the new design was missing was the two-tone bezels which were available ever since the introduction of the GMT Master back in the 1950s. In spite of all the various improvments and benefits, this different cereamic bezel seemed to only be capable of being produced in a solitary color, thus GMTs with purely black bezels were the one and only option (apart from the rare models that included precious stones).

In Basel, Switzerland, in 2013, Rolex finally showed off what its crafty wizards had been diligently working on for many years: the first single piece ceramic bezel in two different colors in the world, black and blue. Back in lovely blue was the watch of the pilot, but it was not expected to be back in the wonderful black, as well. This new GMT is set comfortably on my wrist and the level of comfortable perfection gives one greater amounts of time in which to see the high tech bezel of the future (or so it seems).

I don’t mean high tech in the sense of the Apple Watch but in the sense that the bezel is a technologically sophisticated component in the way it looks,. Of course this depends on the lighting. The patented Cerachrom’s blue half of the bezel deserves its own lengthy description. This is a major improvement over the original GMT Master. There is something of the multiple personality to it. In hard sunlight it is a very bright blue. Indoor lighting presents it in a different light—it is more matte here and in the shadows it moves toward becoming black.

Those who spend some time with this marvel of engineering and design will know that these words ring true. The chameleon-like bezel is the primary reason this piece of machinery is capable in so many differing situations. It can be worn to a ballgame with a t-shirt or to a ball for the crown prince of Denmark. The best thing about the bezel is wear the blue meets the black seamlessly. Not because they blend evenly together (they do) but because you have to really look close to notice where they blend at all. Pure watch design magic, that is. This is pure mystique. Doubtlessly it was a very difficult effect to achieve for the engineers. The original GMT Master has nothing like this.

The dial on the GMT Master II is of the professional dial design, classic to Rolex layout. It has large and easy-to-read hands and markers. When you switch between different lighting situations the black dial is very different to the blue bezel part in the way it projects a deep, liquid black. Without a texture for the light to play off of, the deep black balances the dancing quality of the blue GMT hand and bezel. The GMT hand contains its own array of contrasts in the variations of coloring. The arm is very thin, lending subtlety to the whole layout and balances harmoniously with the other bigger dial elements.

The case is beautiful and yet simple in its elegance. There are no surprises which, for the Rolex pilot’s watch enthusiast, should be considered a good thing. What I like better about the GMT Master II is this modern Rolex oyster pro case which provides a substantial and powerful feel. This 40mm watch has precise edges and strong shoulders.

As with the GMT Master, the GMT Master II has great functionality, this being a major strong point for it. It has the in-house iron strength workhourse of the caliber 3186 perpetual movement which is self-winding.

What is there to change about the GMT Master II? Hardly anything at all. In a perfect world the center links wouldn’t scratch as easily. Maybe Rolex could offer a bracelet that’s full brushed as an option for the purists about there. Besides that, everything is very, very exquisitely done.

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