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Clock Gears

ROLEX & THE GMT-MASTER II

The Cosmopolitan Watch


The Rolex GMT-Master II, often dubbed the "cosmopolitan watch," has a storied history that has fascinated watch enthusiasts and travellers alike. Originally conceived in the 1950s to meet the needs of intercontinental pilots, the GMT-Master II has evolved into a sought-after luxury timepiece that effortlessly combines functionality and refinement.


A New Era Begins:

In 1989, Rolex introduced the reference 16710, taking over from its predecessor, the reference 16760. Notably, the reference 16713 emerged, featuring a captivating blend of yellow-gold and stainless steel, setting the stage for a new era of GMT-Master II watches. With improved calibre and a sleeker profile, the 16713 quickly captured the attention of horology enthusiasts around the world. The GMT-Master II has been subject to continuous improvements and refinements, reflecting Rolex's commitment to evolving their timepieces. Early iterations of the GMT-Master II featured a black and red 'Coke' bezel insert and were exclusively offered in stainless steel. In 1989, Rolex introduced the two-toned GMT-Master II, the reference 16713, which showcased the brand's expertise in harmoniously combining steel and gold in their designs.


A Legacy of Refinement:

A glossy black dial graces the face of this iconic timepiece, exuding sophistication with its gold writing and complementing yellow-gold hands and hour markers. The sapphire crystal provides protection and clarity, ensuring the watch's beauty remains preserved for years to come. As a delightful nod to vintage charm, this particular GMT-Master II features a tritium insert, which will develop a unique patina over time due to external influences like sunlight. Watch enthusiasts treasure this feature, adding character and history to the timepiece. The 16713 boasted the bezel options of an all-black bezel, and the distinctive brown and gold 'Root Beer' bezel. As an expression of luxury, Rolex offered gem-set Serti dials on these models, with round diamonds, baguette, and triangular rubies serving as elegant hour markers. These Serti Dial GMT-Master II ref. 16713 watches remain highly coveted among collectors, cherished for their captivating aesthetics.


Tritium:

An isotope of hydrogen, Tritium has long been a fascinating element in the world of watchmaking, serving as a reliable luminescent material for watch hands and indices. Its ability to emit a gentle glow in the dark without the need for exposure to light has made it a sought-after feature in timepieces for decades. In the past, watch hands and indices were often coated with tritium paint to achieve the luminescent effect. However, due to tritium's mild radioactivity, some consumers expressed concerns about potential health hazards, leading to a shift away from tritium paint on dials. Despite these concerns, scientists have reached a consensus that tritium paint on watch dials poses no real danger to wearers.


As a result, watch companies have adopted alternative approaches, with many using tritium-gas-filled tubes affixed to the hands and indices of their dials. These tubes contain tritium gas, which emits even less radiation than tritium paint, making them commercially more acceptable while retaining the luminescent quality. Unlike other luminous substances commonly used on watch dials, such as Super-LumiNova, tritium does not require exposure to light for charging. Once activated, tritium will continue to emit its gentle glow for years without significant fading, providing a constant and reliable luminescence. While the use of tritium in watchmaking has evolved, its enduring appeal lies in its long-lasting luminescence and reliability. For watch enthusiasts, the gentle glow of tritium remains a timeless feature that enhances the functionality and beauty of their beloved timepieces. As technology advances, watch manufacturers continue to innovate and adapt, ensuring that luminous materials like tritium stay relevant and continue to captivate watch lovers worldwide.

Rolex Sky Dweller with a black dial and a steel and 18ct yellow gold case

The Brilliance of the GMT Watch: A Simple Solution to a Global Challenge:

In the world of horology, complexity often reigns supreme, but the brilliance of the GMT watch lies in its simple ingenuity. Unlike other intricate complications, the GMT watch provides a straightforward solution to tracking multiple time zones, making it a favourite among globetrotters and pilots alike. At the heart of the GMT watch's functionality is a second hour hand geared to run half as fast as the primary hour hand. Paired with an additional 24-hour time scale, this clever design allows the 24-hour hand to circle the dial once a day, pointing to the corresponding hour. Gone are the days of confusion between a.m. and p.m. in different time zones.


For the Rolex GMT-Master, the iconic red-and-blue "Pepsi" bezel serves as the first solution to the two-timing conundrum. The "GMT hand" tracks the 24-hour time scale on the bezel, with blue indicating nighttime hours and red representing daylight. The bezel's rotational capability allows any hour to be set in alignment with the GMT hand, instantly tracking a second time zone. Interestingly, you might wonder why the watch is called the "GMT" Master if it can track any second time zone. The answer lies in the historical context of its use. Pilots and navigators, working in a world of varying time zones, found it essential to operate on a standardised time reference. Hence, the "GMT" in the watch's name refers to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) or Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), both widely accepted as the global time standard. Pilots, like those from Pan American World Airways, would keep their 24-hour hand set to GMT, ensuring consistency regardless of their local time.

 

Available Now


At MVS Watches, we take great pride in curating extraordinary vintage timepieces like the Rolex GMT-Master II Ref. 16713 and Ref. 16710 "Pepsi". Our passion lies in connecting collectors with horological history, enabling them to own a piece of the past. Indulge in the allure of a bygone era, enriched with history and character. You can check out these fantastic timepieces in the links below:




Rolex Calibre 9001 movement for the Sky-Dweller

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