If you’re in the market for a classic Rolex timepiece, you can’t go wrong with the iconic GMT-Master pilot’s watch. Its design is instantly recognizable and includes a convenient multi-time zone function that was initially developed for use by professional pilots. Today, collectors of all professions and lifestyles choose the Rolex GMT-Master, which has since grown into a broad collection of models that range from stunning vintage references with aluminum bezels to the current ceramic bezel generation.
The options are seemingly endless, and each reference brings its own attractive qualities to the table, which can sometimes make it a little overwhelming to choose any model over the other. This guide will give you a quick overview of the three most desirable Rolex GMT-Master references – the 1675, 16710, and 126710 – to hopefully make choosing your next GMT a bit easier.
What are the top 3 most popular Rolex GMT-Master watches of all time?
Rolex GMT-Master 1675
Our list begins with one of the most beloved editions of the GMT-Master, the reference 1675. This example was produced for over twenty years from the late 1950s until around 1980. Thanks to its long production run, the ref. 1675 is relatively easy to find on the pre-owned Rolex market and is a particularly attractive choice among many vintage collectors. The long production run also means that there are many variations of the ref. 1675 available.
The 1675 GMT-Master debuted with a caliber 1565 movement, pointed crown guards, and a glossy dial. Around the mid-1960s, the line saw an upgrade to a higher-beat caliber 1575 movement with hacking function, square crown guards, and a matte dial with printed tritium indices. Other upgrades include the addition of a larger triangle on the tip on the GMT hand around the late 1960s. The ref. 1675 was fitted with an acrylic crystal and features either a Jubilee or an Oyster bracelet. Overall, the ref. 1675 is an excellent choice for both novice and experienced vintage Rolex collectors. It’s readily available on the secondary market with a variety of different dials, cases, bezels, and bracelets. However, if you can find one with a gilt dial and an unpolished case, consider yourself incredibly lucky as those are among the most desirable vintage Rolex 1675 watches.
Rolex GMT-Master II 16710
In the 1980s, the 24-hour hand on the dial was upgraded so that it could be set independently of the other hands. This change was made under the then-new GMT-Master II collection, first introduced with the ref. 16760. A few years later, the ref. 16710 was introduced and brought with it a new case with a sleeker profile. The ref. 16710 also boasts a long production run, which can be attributed to its refined case and highly versatile feature set. If you’re in the market for a slightly older-model of GMT that is easy to wear and that also includes several modern upgrades, such as a sapphire crystal and a high-beat movement, then the ref. 16710 is the watch to get.
Similar to the ref. 1675, this edition of the GMT-Master II can also be found with a variety of different dials and bezels and it is a fun watch to search for on the secondary market. Depending on the year of production, the ref. 16710 is available with either tritium, LumiNova, or Super-LumiNova for the luminous material on the dial, and can either be powered by a Cal. 3185 or 3186 movement. Around the 2000s, the case received “No Holes” lugs and a laser-etched coronet on the crystal. The ref. 16710 GMT-Master II is also notably available on either a Oyster or Jubilee bracelet and was produced with either an all-black, red and blue (Pepsi), or black and red (Coke) aluminum bezel insert.
Rolex GMT-Master II 126710
The ref. 126710 is the newest addition to the Rolex GMT-Master II collection, and (understandably) features the most contemporary traits among the three Rolex watches showcased in this guide. Each feature on the ref. 126710, from its bezel to the movement that beats within its case, has been thoughtfully refined over the years to offer the wearer a Rolex watch that is nearly perfect.
The ref. 126710 is an upgrade from the ref. 116710, which was the first stainless steel watch in the collection to offer a ceramic bezel, a modern Maxi dial, and a “Super Case”. This latest edition of the GMT-Master II is of particular interest among Rolex collectors in-the-know for being the first instance of a ceramic Pepsi bezel on a stainless steel watch. Before the release of the 126710, the Pepsi GMT was only produced in solid 18K white gold. Additionally, the ref. 126710 was the first instance of a ceramic bezel Rolex GMT-Master II being fitted to the brand’s iconic five-link Jubilee bracelet, which makes this edition more than deserving of a place in our Top 3.
The ceramic (aka Cerachrom) bezel is available in either the classic red and blue “Pepsi” colorway or the newest black and blue “Batman” option. As a newer-model Rolex, the ref. 126710 also features 904L-grade Oystersteel construction, a stunning Chromalight display that is characterized by a bright, long-lasting blue glow, and a brand-new Cal. 3285 movement with a 70-hour power reserve and the brand’s completely redesigned, proprietary Chronergy escapement.