This has been an important year for “GMT” watches, which is an acronym for Greenwich Mean Time, based on the mean solar time at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London that sits on the prime meridian (used for calculating longitude) and is widely used as a reference time for all the different time zones around the world.
In 1955 Rolex launched the first GMT watch, designed specifically for intercontinental commercial pilots at the now defunct airline Pan Am. The watch, with the ability to display two time zones simultaneously, one via a traditional 12-hour hand and the other via a 24-hour hand, went on to become a legendary professional timepiece, and now many decades later, Rolex GMT-Master II replica watch is the benchmark by which all other GMT watches are measured.
Basically, with the current model, you set the red GMT 24-hour hand to your home time, which is also linked to the minutes, and then you can separately set the standard 12-hour hand, without it affecting the reference time. The local time is linked to the date. So if you like you can leave both hour hands set to your home time, and when you land at your destination, you can quickly set the standard 12-hour hand to the local time, in one-hour jumps , without affecting the accuracy minutes and seconds of the reference time.
The Rolex GMT Master II “Pepsi” (Ref. 126710 BLRO) is the watch that serious Rolex collectors and enthusiasts alike want right now. It’s currently available at authorized Rolex dealers, although there’s already a huge waiting list, and so naturally the demand has caused the price some wealthy buyers are willing to pay to reportedly double. Whether the demand is so high, or the supply is just restrained, is a good question that’s hard to answer. Nevertheless, this is hottest GMT watch of the year. Although Rolex’s more affordable brand, Tudor, might have something to say about that, considering they too launched a new GMT watch with a Pepsi bezel and an in-house movement this year, for less than half the price.
The Rolex modus operandi is that they never use the same dial for both the steel and gold version, so they’ve – somewhat quietly – changed the white gold GMT-Master II dial to blue to differentiate the two. Plus, the white gold is only available with the Oyster bracelet and the Jubilee bracelet is now exclusive to the steel model. And no, you cannot opt for an Oyster bracelet on the steel GMT-Master II anymore.
There is one more detail that the white gold Ref. 116719 BLRO GMT-Master II does not share in common with the new steel GMT (Ref. 126710 BLRO), and it’s a big one: the white gold version still uses the now last generation caliber 3186 whereas the steel model use the all-new caliber 3285.With the new GMT-Master II 126710 Rolex has subtly redesigned the 40 mm diameter case so as to create better ergonomics, and while I didn’t compare the new and old designs side-by-side, it does seem to be more comfortable on the wrist. That’s also due in part to the lighter weight and unique fit of the Jubilee bracelet. Together, those two design elements give the watch a slightly smaller, almost vintage feel.
As for the new movement, caliber 3285, it of course still features a robust Rolex design, including a traversing balance bridge, but now with a more premium finish, which is much needed in my opinion for a watch nearing the $10K price point. Furthermore, the power reserve has been increased by 46% (from 48 to 70-hours), something more and more brands are doing and that is an important improvement that’s difficult to argue with whether we’re talking cars, phones, or watches, all the same. Rolex got to this by increasing the size of the barrel, as well as improving the regulation system such as with the implementation of the Chronergy escapement. This movement, is the subject of 10 patents, by the way.
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