GMT MASTER

 

The GMT master was developed in conjunction with Pan American Airways. It was designed so pilots could tell local times at their various venues even though they shared different time zones.

Pan Am asked Rolex to develop a watch so their pilots could tell the local time at their various destinations. Pan Am's team was led by Fredrick Libby, and Rolex's team was led by the ever reliable Rene P. Jeanneret. In an extremely short space of time this task force had produced the GMT Master model 6542. named after Greenwich Mean Time.

This new GMT Master was basically a remodelled version of the "Turn-O-Graph" (model 6202) with the calibre 1035 movement upgraded with the addition of a supplementary 24-hour driving wheel. The new movement now called the calibre 1065, powered a watch that featured four hands. This new hand was complemented by a rotatable 24-hour bezel. Together they enabled the wearer to read the time in any two time zones. Produced only until 1959, the model 6542 is the rarest of all GMT Masters.

In 1960 a new watch replaced the old GMT Master. The new movement was a calibre 1565 which was based on the 1530 which was released a year before. This new GMT Master also had a much brighter bezel insert and also had a protective crown, which made the watch look quite like a Submariner.

However the real untold story of the GMT Master begins here. Everyone knows that NASA astronauts were issued with Omega Speedmasters, however not everyone knows that almost all the astronauts owned their own GMT Masters, which had become the standard Aviators timepiece, and they continued to wear them at all times including space flights.

The Speedmasters were regulated to occasions when they had to be worn, such as during space walks when the special extended bracelet allowed them to be worn outside the space suits. It was the GMT Master on the wrist of Jack Swigert that helped the crew of the Apollo 13 to make it back to Earth safely after their on board oxygen tank ruptured.

The 1675 went through all the usual Rolex changes between its 1959 introduction and its withdrawal at the end of the 1980's. In the mid- 1960's it became available in 18k gold and in steel with a gold bezel and crown. Around 1976 it received the "hacking" seconds movement and a few years later the "quickset" feature was also added. The sapphire glass was added just prior to the model being withdrawn.

The withdrawal did not last long as the 1675 was replaced with two new models. The 16700 GMT Master which could differentiated from the earlier models by the white gold circular settings for its luminous hour markers. The 16710 GMT Master II used a new calibre movement (3085) which allowed the hour hand to be moved forwards and backwards at one hour intervals. This feat could be performed without loosing any of the preset accuracy of the watch.

The GMT Master remains the first choice for all aviators and those whose lifestyles require knowledge of two time zones. Is classic design combined with dependability make this a lasting choice.

Second time round © 2017