Buying A Pre-owned Rolex GMT-Master? Consider These 3 Things


Rolex is one of the prominent luxury watch brands in the market today. It is best known for producing high-quality and stylistic collections. You can ask anyone, and for sure, they’ll tell you how branded this timepiece is. The brand released multiple models and collections, and you just have to pick which one you love and prefer.

If you’re looking for vintage Rolex watches, your best options might be a GMT-Master or a Submarine. But owning one requires enough budget, so save some before purchasing a pre-owned timepiece. Here in this article, we have listed the three essential things you need to check when looking for a pre-owned GMT-Master watch.

GMT-Master is different from GMT-Master II Models

The only difference between GMT-Master II from GMT-Master is that the GMT-hand and traditional hand can be set independently. It implies that both 24-hour and GMT-hand can show two different time zones, and the rotating bezel can leave in a neutral position. Through rotating the bezel based on the appropriate number of offsets, you can now also read the third time zone.

Looking back to its history, Rolex first-ever launched the GMT-Master timepiece in the 1950s. It is designed and created as a time tracker of two time zones by Pan A airline pilots while working. This watch let the pilot read the GMT through the 24-hour hand, pointing to the 24-hour marked bezel and reading the local time through the traditional 12-hour hand on the dial.

For about 15 years, the brand continued to produce GMT-Master and GMT-Master II timepieces. Not until they discontinued the production of GMT-Master in 1999. Rolex has recently produced the GMT-Master II, but if you wish to purchase a pre-owned GMT-Master model, there are still many options for different references.

Better if you compared Vintage vs. Retro vs. recent GMT-Master models.

To fully understand the references ever released throughout the existence of GMT-Master, we have categorized them into three parts: retro, vintage, recent.

Vintage GMT-Master References (1955 – 1988)

The first-ever model that launched in the entire Rolex’s pilot timepieces was the GMT-Master ref. 6542 way back in 1955. It is made of stainless Oyster on the case topped with a blue and red Bakelite bezel. However, the brand had replaced the material from Bakelite with aluminum for how fragile the material is and because there were concerns and feedback regarding the radioactivity of the radiance inside the bezel. Although they created most GMT-Master reference 65442 timepieces out of stainless steel, there were several yellow gold versions.

Next on the list was the GMT-Master reference 1675 that was released in 1959. This time it came with crown guards as its primary identity. As this version’s production lasted for over two decades, there were multiple materials used, including gold, steel, and two-tone. Bezels were also in a color variety of brown/gold, blue/red, and monochromatic black. 

Then the third generation came in the version of the GMT-Master ref. 16750, which is popularly known for its quickest date functionality. In the same period, versions like GMT-Master ref. 16750, GMT-Master ref. 16758 and GMT-Master reference 16753 were produced. 

In 1983, the first-ever GMT-Master II ref. 16760 had officially debuted exclusively made of stainless steel. The bezel came in red and black color, equipped with a sapphire crystal. 

Retro GMT-Master References (1988 – 2005)

Amidst the release of GMT-Master II, Rolex had still produced the GMT-Master as a more budget-friendly option. The brand released the GMT-Master 16700 made from steel with a sapphire crystal feature in 1988. You can either choose between a black bezel or Pepsi.

Almost at the same time, they also introduced the 167xx family of GMT-Master II watches. This version came with a multiple series of bezel colors and material options. You can pick whether you like the gold GMT-Master II ref. 16718, the steel GMT-Master II ref. 16710, and two-tone GMT-Master II ref. 16713. Contingent upon the model, you can find a pre-owned Rolex GMT-Master with bezel colors that include red/black, red/blue, brown/bronze, and all-black. 

Recent GMT-Master References (2005 – present)

In 2005, it was the time where the GMT-Master II collection faced extreme design changes. The brand released the GMT-Master II ref. 116718, a new version of the pilot’s watch that features yellow gold color and a brand new black Cerachrom ceramic bezel. Options such as a heftier “Super Case,” a bolder “Maxi Dial,” were also available, and an improved bracelet. In 2018, a new generation of GMT-Master II was finally released by introducing the ref. 12671x family. It comes with a feature of the brand new Caliber 3285 inside.

Wide variety of material and color 

When talking about metal materials, the GMT-Master collection comes with various options in the entire Rolex lineup. Besides the famous stainless versions of both GMT-Master and GMT-Master II timepieces, there are also precious metal versions accessible in colors like yellow and white gold, Everose pink gold, and two-tone steel and gold combinations. When looking for a pre-owned timepiece, you can even find some fancy gem-set versions of the GMT-Master II that are cloaked in inexpensive diamonds and other precious stones.

More than that, the brand has offered different materials and colors in creating and designing the GMT-Master. The earliest version of the GMT-Master timepiece came with a bezel fashioned from Bakelite and aluminum material. In 2005, the brand produced the GMT-Master bezels in a distinctive ceramic alloy called Cerachrom. You can pick a wide range of colors, from red/black “Coke” to red/blue “Pepsi” to black/blue “Batman” to brown/gold “Root Beer.” The most recent bi-color mix added to the combination of black and brown and the solid black bezels are also available.

In a Nutshell

Most Rolex buyers and collectors prefer to buy watches that come with the same original parts when the timepiece has left the factory. But with older models, it’s entirely feasible. Many pre-owned GMT- Master timepieces are usually sent in for servicing, and some damaged or worn-out parts are being replaced. That is why when buying a pre-owned GMT- Master watch, make sure to check every single detail before paying.