Rolex was again the talk of the Baselworld fair this year, debuting four new models in its ever-popular GMT-Master II collection, all powered by a brand new in-house movement. The long-awaited steel with blue and red Cerachrom bezel is back (Ref. 126710BLRO), and is already one of the most sought-after mechanical watches in the country (possibly the world).
Joining it are two new versions of the 2018 GMT-Master II that introduce Rolex’s proprietary 18k Everose gold into the collection for the first time – one in full Everose gold (Ref. 126715CHNR), and a second that combines the exclusive alloy with Oystersteel to create a stylish Everose Rolesor option (Ref. 126711CHNR). Both feature a more refined black and brown Cerachrom bezel, offering distinct yet understated wrist appeal.
A GMT is a truly useful complication – still as helpful in today’s age as when it was first pioneered by Rolex for pilots, back in the 1950s. The GMT allows for dual time-zones to be displayed simultaneously, typically referred to as ‘home’ time and ‘local’ time. Rolex invented the complication, in 1954, by introducing an extra hour hand, coaxially located at the dial centre. This supplementary hand rotates on a 24-hour scale (denoted on the bezel). Originally, home time was set to Greenwich Mean Time (local time at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich in London, England – globally agreed upon as Universal Time (UT)), hence the name.
The GMT-Master II (first released in 1982) allows for the two hour hands to be independently set – meaning the wearer is free to choose what timezone the GMT hand will track. A third timezone can be read, by rotating the (bidirectional) 24-hour bezel to reflect the number of hours ahead or behind home time. The two-colour bezel variations distinguish day and night. Not only does the GMT complication look great, it is also very handy if you’re travelling or making phone calls across time-zones.
For collectors, the red and blue bezel (affectionately known as “The Pepsi” by the collector’s community) offered with a 904L Oystersteel case is a big deal. This brings together the formula of the original tool watch developed in 1954. From its launch in 1955, the Rolex GMT-Master stood out with its rotatable 24-hour graduated blue and red bezel (strongly contrasting colours for the human eye). In addition to its functionality, the red and blue bezel/ stainless steel option wore well with anything – from coveralls to tuxedo. The GMT-Master’s ascension to iconic status goes right back to the popularity of this first edition. Though not present on the original, some (early, popular) GMT-Master variants also featured the celebrated Jubilee bracelet.
After a hiatus from steel since 2014, this year’s BLRO combines all these winning elements and brings together Rolex’s Cerachrom insert in blue and red, Oystersteel and Jubilee bracelet on a GMT-Master II for the first time. The 40mm Oyster case has been slightly redesigned and features thinner, more tapered lugs to accommodate the new five-link, polished and brushed, Jubilee bracelet – in matching Oystersteel – fitted with Rolex’s patented Easylink rapid extension system, and Oysterclasp. The 2018 edition gives the GMT-Master II back its (original) black dial – the GMT hand, with a broad arrow tip, stands out in red. The signature fluted bezel, in blue and red ceramic, gleams with perfection.
In addition to the new Oystersteel version of the BLRO GMT-Master II, Rolex also released an updated version 18k white gold version, originally released four years ago. This new reference (116719BLRO) replaces the previous version and differentiates itself with a new glossy blue dial. A distinction is maintained with the Oystersteel version by equipping the 18k white gold version with a substantial white gold Oyster bracelet as opposed to the Jubilee bracelet on the steel version.
Unlike the other new references in the 2018 GMT-Master family, the 18 white gold version utilises the 3186 movement. With the combined impact of the new blue dial and the heft of 18k white gold, the 116719 BLRO has an imposing yet understated wrist presence.
Everose makes its first appearance in the collection, and the results are rather striking. Everose is a special 18k pink gold alloy developed by Rolex and used by the brand since 2005 but never on a GMT. The name alludes to the colour – more stable than conventional rose gold, thanks to the inclusion of a (2%) platinum share. The composition (which also includes a 22% copper share) is the only rose gold variant resistant against chlorinated water.
The Cerachrom insert features a newly developed brown ceramic (day), combined with black ceramic (night) that blends superbly with the pink of the gold and the black of the dial. It’s subtler than a full-black bezel, yet has a personality all of its own, adding another dimension to the full Everose GMT-Master II’s mystique. All hands, including the GMT hand, are crafted from 18k rose gold, as are the hour markers and the “GMT-Master II” name is inscribed in powdered rose gold. The effect is a refined GMT-Master II with a luxurious yet understated look. The full Everose gold version comes with a matching Oyster bracelet featuring the Easylink comfort extension link and an Oysterlock folding clasp.
Sitting between the two metal options (and price points) is the all-new Everose Rolesor. Striking in its own right, the Everose Rolesor GMT-Master II presents an attractive alternative for those looking for something with a slight vintage twist. Featuring the same black and brown Cerachrom bezel as the Everose version, this model channels the spirit of the first GMT-Master released as a Rolesor in the 1960s, affectionately known to collectors as the “Root Beer” GMT.
The 1675/3, was the first GMT-Master to combine the two metals the model was offered in at the time (steel and yellow gold). The resemblance of its brown and cream bezel insert to the popular soda inspired its nickname of “Root Beer”. The new Everose Rolesor GMT-Master II captures the same charisma, with some welcome contemporary updates. Offered on a Rolesor version of the same bracelet fitted to the full Everose gold model, the Everose Rolesor will also pair well with a sophisticated leather strap, for a versatile look suited to a variety of settings.
All three models in the 2018 GMT-Master II collection are equipped with a new, self-winding mechanical movement. Developed and produced in-house, calibre 3285 increases the power reserve capacity to 70 hours and delivers a remarkable ±2 seconds/ day precision. The movement is equipped with a Paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring and uses Rolex’s energy efficient and anti-magnetic Chronergy escapement.
Calibre 3285 is certified as a Superlative Chronometer, meaning it has both satisfied the requirements for COSC chronometer certification as well as the vigorous tests performed by Rolex once the movement is cased up. In layman’s terms, this translates to a highly accurate, remarkably reliable mechanical movement.
Thanks to its rugged good looks and emblematic bezel, the Rolex GMT-Master II offers a versatile wristwatch suitable for all occasions. For globetrotters, the functionality of the Rolex GMT complication is hard to beat – making the GMT-Master II an indispensable travelling companion. Allocations worldwide are extremely limited so please contact Watches of Switzerland immediately to discuss availability.