Launched in 1955, the Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master is a true “tool watch”. It evolved continually to offer increasing technical performance.
Emblematic design in red and blue
On the original 1955 model, the 24-hour graduated bezel insert was divided into two halves – one red, to correspond with daylight hours, and one blue, for night-time. Over the years, the insert has been made available in different colour combinations as well as in single colour versions. Initially made from Plexiglas, it was replaced by anodized aluminium in 1959 and high-technology ceramic in 2005.
Independent hour hand
On the original GMT-Master, the conventional hour hand, the minute hand and the 24-hour hand were synchronized. In 1982, Rolex introduced a new movement that allowed the hour hand to be set independently of the other hands. To clearly mark this evolution, and to avoid any confusion with the GMT-Master, the model fitted with the optimized movement was named the GMT-Master II. From then on, using and setting the watch became easier and more intuitive.
Ceramic bezel insert
In 2005, Rolex replaced the bezel insert in aluminium with ceramic. As a pioneer in the design and creation of ceramic components, the brand developed its monobloc bezels and monobloc ceramic inserts in-house. Since then – for optimal legibility – the numerals and graduations have been moulded into the ceramic and then coated with a thin layer of gold or platinum via PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition).
In 2013, Rolex broke new ground when it introduced its first single-piece, two-colour ceramic bezel insert – blue on one half and black on the other – on an Oystersteel version of the GMT-Master II. A year later, it unveiled the two-colour bezel insert in red and blue ceramic, on a GMT-Master II in 18 ct white gold.
A technological feat
In 2014, Rolex unveiled a red and blue Cerachrom bezel insert – the GMT-Master’s original colour. The company carried out pioneering research to develop a red ceramic corresponding to its aesthetic and quality criteria, and came up with a different approach regarding the initial ceramic mixture.
Rolex found a way to locally modify the chemical composition of each grain, right to the core of the ceramic, and change the colour of half the insert from red to blue, while ensuring a sharp delineation between the two colours.
In 2018, Rolex extended its GMT-Master II range with a new version in Oystersteel, equipped with a 24-hour graduated two-colour Cerachrom bezel insert in red and blue ceramic. The lugs and sides of its Oyster case were redesigned, and the watch was fitted on a five-link Jubilee bracelet, equipped with an Oysterlock safety clasp and an Easylink extension system.
Two other versions of the GMT-Master II introduced 18 ct Everose gold to the range for the very first time. The first is crafted entirely from this refined, exclusive alloy, and the second is available in an Everose Rolesor version, combining Oystersteel and Everose gold.
A new movement, calibre 3285, is introduced on the GMT-Master II.
Meteorite from outer space
The GMT-Master II in 18 ct white gold presented in 2019 features a meteorite dial.
This dial is crafted from an extremely rare slice of iron meteorite that travelled billions of kilometres across the solar system to reach Earth. During the course of its journey, the metals that constitute the meteorite – essentially iron and nickel – gradually crystallize, producing metallic formations. These natural patterns make each Rolex meteorite dial truly unique.
A new perspective
In 2022, Rolex introduced an original version of the GMT-Master II with the crown on the left side of the case and a green and black bezel insert. This new edition of the watch echoes the GMT-Master created in 1955 which accompanied the advent of commercial flight. Adjustments were needed to move the winding crown to the left side of the watch case and the date aperture to 9 o’clock. Changes were also required to the process of measuring the precision of the watch during final testing.
A new shade
Rolex introduces two new versions of the GMT-Master II that signal the return of 18 ct yellow gold to the model. The first is a yellow Rolesor version (combining Oystersteel and yellow gold), whereas the second is crafted entirely in this precious metal.
Both share common features. Firstly a dual-colour, 24-hour graduated monobloc Cerachrom bezel insert in grey – a new shade – and black ceramic. On the dial, the name ‘GMT-Master II’ is in a powdered yellow colour.