One of the many perks to owning a watch business is being able to work with all the various watches that come through the shop. One that I was super excited to wear was a 1998 Rolex GMT Master with Pepsi bezel. A local customer traded it in for a newer no-date Rolex Submariner. I was really excited to wear that one but all it took was one Instagram post and we had a buyer for it so it was gone as quickly as it came.
Thankfully, we just received a pre-owned Rolex GMT Master 2 "Pepsi" (ref. 16710) and this time I made sure that this one would be able to get some wrist time in order to do a proper review.
QUICK HISTORY LESSON
GMT stands for Greenwich Mean Time (aka UTC - Coordinated Universal Time). This is predominantly used for aviation, weather forecasts and schedules. Rolex created the GMT Master for Pan Am Airways since flights were able to travel longer distances in the 40s and 50s.
The GMT Master allowed for the ability to reference two different time zones.
The wearer could set their watch to the UTC time or any other timezone for that matter and the fourth hand represented the 24-hour display. The rotating bezel would then be used to set the second time zone for the wearer.
The GMT Master II (ref 16760), also known as the “fat lady”, was released in 1983. Interestingly enough, the GMT Master II didn’t replace its predecessor as the GMT Master was still being produced, albeit with modifications, until 1999. The primary differences between the GMT Master and GMT Master II include the caliber 3075 movement with allows for quick-set date and hacking seconds. The GMT Master II looks very similar to its predecessor while the main differences being a thicker case (thus the nickname) and the ability for the hour hand to be adjusted in one-hour increments without disturbing the minute, second or 24-hour hand. The GMT Master II also includes a rotating bezel which would allow the user to reference a third timezone.
The history of the GMT Master II goes much further but for today we're reviewing a Rolex "Pepsi" GMT Master II from 2001.
ON THE WRIST
To preface, I have larger wrists somewhere around the 8-8.15" realm. Unfortunately, this leads me to gravitate towards larger watches. With that being said, the GMT Master II, coming in at 40mm wears well enough on my wrist as long as it comes fully-linked.
Living in an area with some extreme temperature changes, I find that the older style Rolex bracelets lack in the micro-adjustment area. I find myself sometimes moving the watch a little bit up and down the wrist to adjust for any swelling that may occur if things warm up. I was kind of spoiled wearing a Rolex no-date Submariner (reference 114060) that had the quick adjust bracelet so maybe that's why I brought it up. In all seriousness, that was the only thing I could even remotely complain about. This watch wears very well and I found it to be able to hold up very nice when dressing up or down.
The aluminum "Pepsi" bezel has a fine patina just starting on the red giving this timepiece a vintage feel that you just cannot get with the newer ceramic bezel offerings. I could imagine that this watch would look absolutely killer on a leather strap. Out of all the watches currently with us, I definitely find myself gravitating towards this one the most.
I find myself to be more of a homebody so the GMT functionality for me, while world ready, seems to be more than what I need out of a watch. Therefore, I just have GMT hour hand in line with 24-hour military time. The updated movement makes setting the time a breeze if I ever let the power reserve run out.
Both price and demand for Rolex watches have been skyrocketing in recent years. In my humble opinion, it makes sense on a variety of levels on why someone would want to purchase one. No matter if you are a watch enthusiast or investor, it's highly likely that you can wear one and still come out on top... over time.
The pre-owned market for Rolex watches is also thriving and in return, both new and used Rolexes continue to grow in value. My thought is that these are tool watches. I know everyone isn't flying a plane, traveling or scuba diving so the "tools" found within this timepiece may not be thoroughly utilized. What I mean to say is that watches are meant to be worn and enjoyed. If the watch manages to maintain its value, or increase even, then that just makes things even better.
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MODEL: GMT Master II
CASE DIAMETER: 40mm
CASE MATERIAL: Steel
YEAR OF PRODUCTION: 2001 approx.
POWER RESERVE: 40 hours approx.
FUNCTIONS: Date, GMT, Luminous numerals & hands, and Rotating bezel.