Last year, Rolex introduced the 50th anniversary edition of the GMT Master II. The improvements over the older style GMT Master II (which I reviewed about a year ago) seemed substantial, but there was one major problem: it was only available in two-tone (18k gold and stainless steel). For two-tone lovers, it was a dream come true, but being a pure stainless steel man myself, I decided to hold off even writing about the update until there were other options.
At BaselWorld 2007, Rolex finally made the announcement I’ve been waiting for: an all stainless steel version of the new GMT Master II. I haven’t seen one in person yet, but judging from all the pictures I’ve seen, it’s one of the most beautiful Rolexes ever produced.
I have a particular affinity for the GMT Master II because I think it’s one of Rolexes most practical watches. For a detailed breakdown, read my review, but just to summarize, it basically does four things, and it does them perfectly:
- Tells the time in your time zone.
- Tells the date in your time zone.
- Tells the time in a second time zone.
- Allows you switch between time zones and move the date forward or backward extremely easily.
If you’re looking for an elegant but durable travel watch, you won’t do any better than the Rolex GMT Master II.
So how did Rolex manage to improve such a well designed watch? As I said, I haven’t been able to get my hands on one yet, but from what I can gather, these are the major changes:
- The movement. The movement has been updated to the new calibre 3186. The 3186 doesn’t have any new features, but apparently the movement of the hour hand is much smoother and more precise when setting the hour hand than it was with the 3185. Additionally, the main spring has been replaced with one which is more temperature resistant, which makes the watch more precise. (Read more about the new movement in this post by Henk Hoving.)
- New dial design. The new GMT Master II is outfitted with what has become known as the “maxi-dial” which means that the hour markers are larger, and both the the minute hand and the hour hands are slightly wider.
- The bezel. The bezel on the new GMT Master is ceramic rather than painted aluminum. This type of ceramic is extremely durable and resistant to abrasions and discoloration.
- Triplock crown. The new GMT Master IIs use the Triplock crown system of the Submariner, Sea-Dweller, and Yacht-Masters. The crown is larger, heavier, easier to grasp, and in theory should make the watch more water resistant, though I don’t believe Rolex has changed the depth rating.
- Green 24-hour hand. The 24-hour hand on the older GMT Master IIs is read. Rolex seems to have taken an interest in green lately as evidenced by the new green 24-hour hand, green bezel of the anniversary Submariner, and the green crystal of the new Milgauss (article coming soon).
- Inner bezel engraving. The inner bezel of the new GMT Master IIs are engraved with the word ROLEX all the way around.
- Polished inner-links. The links in the center of the Oyster bracelet are polished rather than brushed.
- Slightly taller case. The case on the new GMT Master II is slightly taller to accommodate the new movement.
Rumor has it that the new GMT Master IIs should reach authorized dealers sometime this summer, and will likely be priced just south of $6K, though we won’t know for sure until they have arrived.
By Christian Cantrell