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July 4th, 2024

Rise of the Rolex GMT-Master to Become an Icon

Rolex GMT-Master

If not all, most Rolex watches that were created to cater to a specific purpose evolved into something great and became superhero watches. One such timepiece that has left an indelible mark on the world of horology is the Rolex GMT-Master.

In an era of plentiful luxury watches, the GMT-Master stands apart as the quintessential traveller's piece, synonymous with craftsmanship, precision, and timeless style.

Conquered the steepest of mountains? CHECK. Crossed oceans? CHECK. Travelled to space? CHECK. Survived rocket speed? CHECK! The Rolex GMT-Master models have continuously captured the hearts of collectors and enthusiasts worldwide with their intriguing features and qualities.

But where did it all begin?

Let's embark on a captivating journey to explore the Rolex GMT-Master's evolution from humble beginnings to a symbol of adventure and affluence.

Origin of the Rolex GMT-Master

The story of the GMT-Master began in 1955 with a humble yet important purpose. The 1950s was the golden age of aviation when pilots and navigators travelled long distances across multiple time zones. They needed a timepiece that could help them track their home time and the time zone of their destination. This would help them ensure precise flights.

Rolex came to the rescue by launching the original Rolex GMT-Master watches. The Swiss Maison partnered with Pan American World Airways (PAN AM) to design this groundbreaking timepiece, which not only fulfilled the demands of the aviators but also marked the inception of a legendary collection.

Soon after, PAN AM acquired and issued hundreds of Rolex GMT-Master pieces to its flight crews, including the officers, pilots and navigators, further lamenting the GMT-Master's position as a beloved pilot's timepiece. In 1959, The Rolex GMT-Master became the official watch for PAN AM pilots accompanying them on their flights.

Eventually, more and more airlines officially adopted the GMT-Master for their pilots.

The Enduring Design

Rolex built the GMT-Master with trustworthy Oyster steel, and the watches came in 38mm and then 40mm. The most alluring feature of the GMT-Master is the bidirectional rotatable bezel with a 24-hour graduated Cerachrom insert. This innovative GMT function allowed pilots, aviators, and travellers to independently set a 24-hour hand to track the second time zone, helping them simultaneously follow the local and home time.

The bezel has two different colours to identify the night and day, initially red for day and blue for night. This inaugural GMT-Master with a red and blue bezel was affectionately nicknamed "Pepsi" and continues to be the most iconic and recognisable feature of the GMT-Master. It not only catered to the wearers' needs but also added a distinct charm to the timepiece. The unique combination of red and blue was a genius design stroke, and today, the entire GMT-Master lineup is recognised with this iconic look.

Peak of Innovation

The original GMT-Master was always known for its superb functionality and aesthetics. The introduction of the Rolex GMT-Master II in the early 1980s marked a significant milestone in its history, as it brought numerous impressive innovations and improvements.

One of them was the release of the Calibre 3085 movement. This movement introduced a quick-set hour hand, allowing wearers to adjust the local time without hampering the 24-hour and minute hands. Rolex also created an independently adjustable 12-hour hand, ensuring greater versatility while tracking multiple time zones.

Another breakthrough innovation emerged in 2005 when Rolex further amplified the GMT-Master's innovative capabilities by introducing the high-tech ceramic bezel insert. This durable, scratchproof material enhanced not only the watch's performance but also its design possibilities.

Following this evolution, the watch expanded its desirability not only to explorers and aviators but also to top athletes and legendary figures, who preferred the GMT-Master's robust aesthetics.

Collectability of the GMT-Master

The allure of the Rolex GMT-Master collection has travelled far beyond its functional and design appeal. Its iconic design, robust quality and rich history have established it as a highly sought-after piece among collectors and buyers.

Investors, too, consider the Rolex GMT-Master a smart investment option, as the high demand and popularity of the models ensure they hold their value well. Moreover, the GMT-Master II's enduring popularity contributes to its value appreciation over time. If you're a collector seeking an investment timepiece, please note that you can easily sell the GMT-Master watches for a higher resale value.

gmt master pepsi

This is especially true if your GMT-Master has a 'Pepsi' insert on it. According to the latest 2024 reports, the Pepsi GMT-Master II is leading the pack of investment watches, and you can expect to sell the watches at twice their price. The prices of the Pepsi GMT-Master have surpassed any other Rolex model in the past 12 months, making it the best-performing piece.

Unlike many other Rolex models, the GMT Pepsi is still in production, and you can actually buy the watches at retail—but good luck finding one at a store near you!


In the realm of luxury watches, the GMT-Master stands as a testament to Rolex's timeless craftsmanship and style and reminds us that in a world of rapid innovation, some things underscore timelessness.

The Rolex GMT-Master is nothing short of an emblematic timepiece from the legendary Swiss manufacturer, fulfilling wanderlust. Beyond its technical prowess, the watch has etched its mark on popular culture, gracing the wrists of legends.

Lastly, the Rolex GMT-Master is more than a watch; it's a sought-after fashion statement, a symbol of precision, a smart investment choice and a cherished treasure. While it was created on utilitarian grounds, the GMT-Master conquered the world with its charismatic characteristics.

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