Thursday, June 04, 2009

History of the Rolex GMT Master watch

The GMT Master was originally designed in 1955 in collaboration with Pan American World Airways for use by their pilots during World War II. As a result of their rigorous flight schedules for the U.S military, Pan Am pilots were the first afflicted by “jet lag,” a condition caused by making frequent jumps between time zones. Pan Am’s founder, Juan Trippe, theorized that if the pilots had a watch that would help them keep track of the time in their current time zone as well as their home time zone, the effects of jet lag would be milder. The original Rolex GMT master watch was developed by Rolex and Pan Am exclusively for Pam Am pilots, first officers, and navigators. This model featured a fourth hand and adjustable 24-hour bezel, enabling pilots to know their "home" time as well as the local time of any destination in a different time zone.

Many Rolex connoisseurs miss the convex crystals found on these older Rolex GMT Master watches.

The first version of the GMT Master series, 6542 had a bakelite bezel insert. As this bezel was likely to crack, it got replaced by a metal bezel in 1956. The bakelite bezel was luminous. The standard GMT Master series was waterproof to 50m/165 ft.

In 1964 the GMT Master series 6542 was worn in the James Bond Movie, “GoldFinger” by Honor Blackman, a female actress.

The GMT Master acquired more press in 1970 when a GMT Rolex Master was worn by Jack Schweigert, an astronaut. Not just any astronaut, but the one who helped Apollo 13 return safely to Earth after an oxygen tank ruptured.

In 1981 the waterproof depth was increased to 100m/330 ft. These models (1981 and up) are more common and best represent the Rolex GMT master series today.

A new model of the GMT Master came out in 1983 that features a sapphire crystal which cannot easily be scratched. This model was named the GMT Master II. In 2006 it was updated with the Parachrom hairspring which is unaffected by any magnetic field & 10x more resistance to shocks than standard hairsprings. In 2007 the bezel was updated to the nearly indestructible ceramic bezel, the most durable bezel in the world.

The GMT can display time in two different time zones and the GMT II in three. Using the additional "GMT" hand which completes a 24 hour cycle in a single rotation, the GMT (and GMT II) uses a bi-directional rotatable bezel marked zero to twenty three allowing for a second time zone to be displayed with the GMT hand pointing to the bezel hour. The GMT II allows the GMT hand to be set independently from the hour hand thus allowing a third time zone.



Anonymous Ron said...

Interesting blog. The Rolex Sport models have stood the test of time. Rolex just keeps improving the quality of their sports models!

August 16, 2009 11:35 PM  
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August 27, 2009 5:32 AM  
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October 19, 2009 4:53 AM  
Anonymous John said...

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September 30, 2011 11:49 AM  

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