The new Rolex GMT Master II watches were a big story coming out of Baselworld 2018, and the new ‘Pepsi’ GMT is the “it” watch right now, with the ‘Root Beer’ drawing slightly more subdued hype as well. Between the madness of paying thousands over retail price for a new Rolex GMT Master II and the current steelsports watch “shortage” we (myself and Zach Piña) thought it might be a good time to do a list of some of our favorite alternative GMT watches in the spirit of our Top 10 alternatives to the Rolex Submariner article.
The Rolex GMT Master was introduced back in 1959 as the commercial aviation industry was going through a huge period of growth. Pilots who were flying across long distances could easily and reliably keep track of different time zones. The GMT hand and rotating bezel allowed for dual-time tracking, which is useful for anyone who travels or needs to keep track of different time zones. Because of this and the Rolex reputation, the GMT Master found its way on the wrist of people like Fidel Castro (who wore a reference 6542 and 1675). I’ve always found this to be infinitely cooler than the Rolex watches that found their ways on the wrists of, ahem, certain actors who I couldn’t care less about.
The follow up Rolex GMT Master II was introduced in 1983 with the current iteration ref. 116710 introduced in 2007. This is the contemporary model with the ceramic bezel and upgrades like the Triplock crown and bigger lugs, crown guards, and numerals. Also, a big improvement in this generation was the new bracelet with the 5mm adjustable Easy-link system. Since then, the current generation of Rolex GMT Master II has been associated most with Rolex’s ceramic color technology.