Whether you call it the “Fat Lady,” the “Sophia Loren,” or the “Coke,” the GMT-Master II ref. 16760 marked an important turning point for Rolex’s flagship pilot’s watch collection. If you’ve ever wondered what the Rolex “Fat Lady” reference is or just want to learn more about the first Rolex GMT-Master II model, then join us as we delve into the GMT-Master II ref. 16760.
Why is the GMT-Master II ref. 16760 Nicknamed the Fat Lady?
In 1983, Rolex launched the next chapter in the GMT-Master story in the form of reference 16760. This was the first GMT-Master II model, which is different from the original GMT-Master models in that the 24-hour hand can be set independently from the traditional 12-hour hand.
Previously, the 24-hour and 12-hour hands were coupled on Rolex GMT-Master models. Remember, GMT-Master watches were originally developed specifically for Pan Am pilots, and airline pilots follow one universal time zone (formally Greenwich Mean Time, or GMT). Consequently, pilots would set the traditional 12-hour hand to GMT as their reference time and when they landed in a new time zone, they would simply rotate the 24-hour marked bezel to align the local hour with the triangular-tipped 24-hour hand.
However, thanks to the Caliber 3085 movement, the pair of hour hands on the GMT-Master II ref. 16760 are decoupled, resulting in a “true GMT” watch. A “true GMT” watch is characterized by an independently adjustable hour hand that moves in one-hour jumps without disturbing the reference time or date. A quickset jumping hour hand is especially convenient for frequent travelers who need to regularly change local time. And because the 12-hour and 24-hour hands are now independently adjustable, the reference 16760 (and all subsequent GMT-Master II models) can, in fact, indicate a third-time zone by rotating the bezel to the appropriate time offset.
So why the Fat Lady nickname? This is because in order to accommodate the Caliber 3085, the stainless case of the Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 16760 is noticeably thicker than its predecessors. What’s more, while the 16760 retains the familiar 40mm case diameter, the crown guards are larger than previous editions. The less common “Sophia Loren” nickname is in reference to the 16760’s curvier profile.
Notable Features of the Rolex Fat Lady
Aside from the upgraded functionality, the GMT-Master II ref. 16760 included other notable features. Not only did Rolex make the first GMT-Master II exclusively in stainless steel, but it was also only offered with a red and black bezel – the very first Rolex “Coke” bezel. However, buyers at the time did have the choice between an Oyster bracelet or a Jubilee bracelet. The GMT-Master II 16760 boasted other enhancements such as a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal rather than acrylic, in addition to white gold surrounds framing the hour makers. With all these upgrades, Rolex’s first GMT-Master II was truly a modern sports watch during its era. Rolex produced the GMT-Master II 16760 until 1988, when the reference 16710 GMT-Master II replaced it.
Although the GMT-Master II offered improved functionality, Rolex continued to produce the standard GMT-Master until 1999, positioning it as the less expensive alternative. However today, Rolex only produces GMT-Master II models. While Rolex offers the current-production GMT-Master II models in a range of metals and bezel colors, we’re still waiting for a new red and black Cerachrom “Coke” bezel.