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Comparing the Rolex Submariner to the GMT-Master II

Paul Altieri

Two watches, perhaps the two most well-known in Rolex’s sports watch lineup, have amazing similarities, and one can be forgiven for confusing them at a distance. These two watches are, of course, the Rolex Submariner dive watch (ref. 116610) and the GMT-Master II (we’ll call it the GMT for short, but we’re talking about the current ref. 116710).

The Submariner GMT Master comparison

The individual histories of the Submariner and the GMT are well documented elsewhere, so let’s compare and contrast the two current models.

Submariner GMT Master comparison
Here is the comparison between the Submariner and the GMT-Master II.


First, the similarities. The Submariner and the GMT-Master II are luxury watches. Both watches are currently housed in the 40mm diameter so-called “super case” with a ceramic or Cerachrom bezel insert. This case, done in 904L stainless steel, debuted in 2007 with the GMT (the Submariner received the new case a year later). There are minute differences in the two cases, but you need to set them side by side and look very closely to see them.

Submariner GMT Master comparison results are shocking.
Rolex Submariner 116610LV “Hulk” is housed in a 904L case, the same as the GMT-Master II.

Both watches buckle to your wrist with the current Oyster bracelet. And of course, the movements of both watches are COSC certified chronometers.

But the bracelets are where we begin to see differences between the Sub and the GMT. The Submariner gets Rolex’s folding Oysterlock safety clasp with their Glidelock extension system. The GMT’s Oyster bracelet, on the other hand, buckles with a simpler folding Oysterlock safety clasp with an Easylink 5 mm comfort extension link. There have been multiple cases where the Submariner and the GMT are compared.

Submariner GMT Master comparison
The GMT-Master and the Submariner have a few different aspects that give it an edge.


The biggest difference between the two watches is the GMT’s additional hour hand tipped with a triangular “arrowhead.” This hand indicates the hours in 24-hour format. This fourth hand can be set independently of the main hour hand, and the 24-hour time is marked on the bi-directional rotating bezel.

Submariner GMT Master comparison
The Submariner and the GMT are very similar, but also very different.

In fact, when moving across time zones, one can move the GMT’s regular hour hand to reset to local time without affecting the 24 hour hand’s position. This makes such adjustments easy and routine for the busy traveler.

The Submariner, on the other hand, is a classic three-handed watch – hours, minutes, seconds. It’s available with or without a date function. It’s available in all-steel, two-tone steel and yellow gold, yellow gold, and white gold, each with the revolutionary ceramic “Cerachrom” bezel.

There are also differences between the two models.
Rolex GMT-Master II 116710BLNR has an additional hand to measure the 24-hour day.

With the Submariner, choices of bezel and dial colors depending on the metal chosen means you have numerous variations from which to choose. The uni-directional bezel is marked in typical dive watch fashion of five minute increments, numbers each ten minutes, and the first fifteen minutes in one-minute tick marks.

Submariner GMT Master comparison
The GMT-Master has polished center links on their bracelet, while the Submariner has a uniform bracelet design.

The GMT’s Cerachrom bezel, on the other hand, is marked in 24 one hour increments (digits on the even hours). It’s currently offered in a couple of two-tone color schemes – black/blue “Batman” (steel only) and red/blue “Pepsi” (white gold only), or all black (steel, two-tone steel and gold, and yellow gold).

Submariner GMT Master comparison
Take your vote: The Submariner or the GMT-Master.

Even though the GMT features Rolex’s patented Triplock screw-down crown system, the watch is only rated to 100M/330Ft (in all metals). The Submariner is rated to 300M or 1000Ft. This is interesting, given that both watches are housed in the super case.

So there you have it. The Submariner and the GMT-Master II are fraternal twins, nearly identical, but each with its own capabilities.

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Paul Altieri