The Rolex GMT-Master has been a watch that requires no formal introduction. It is perhaps the most iconic travel watch ever made, allowing its wearer to simultaneously tell two time zones. Developed originally in the 1950s for PanAm pilots, who had then begun flying transatlantic routes more frequently, this handy tool watch was vital in order to track home and local time. Over the decades, Rolex has continually tweaked and evolved the model and despite huge changes since the first reference 6542 with a bakelite bezel, it is still instantly recognisable as the iconic GMT-Master.
The example we have on offer here today is the Ref. 116719 in white gold and it is one of the most sought-after modern GMT Masters ever produced by Rolex in recent years. The iconic colours of the GMT-Master are red and blue, or ‘Pepsi’ as collectors love to call it and since the introduction of the ceramic bezel in the 2000s, there had been no Pepsi up until 2014 and Rolex fans were clamouring for one for the longest time. This was attributed to the fact that Rolex could not figure out how to have two colours in one bezel as it was made of ceramic and very difficult to do so. In 2013, they managed to finally do it with the Batman with a blue and black bezel, which was a massive success amongst collectors, but the black and blue bezel was much easier to produce as the tones of both colours were much closer together. Without a doubt, the Batman was an absolute sensation when it was initially introduced and a tough act to follow; but in 2014, Rolex rose to the challenge and finally managed to combine the celebrated blue Cerachrom with their first-ever red ceramic to bring its iconic Pepsi GMT-Master out of retirement.
If you are wondering what Cerachrom is, it was essentially derived from a contraction of the word “ceramic” juxtaposed with the suffix “chrom” which means “colour” in Greek. Colours for this material are generally created by adding mineral pigments that are able to withstand the scorching temperatures at which the ceramic is fired to acquire its densification and hardness, which in return makes the bezel inserts virtually scratch-proof and unaffected by the sun’s ultraviolet rays so that its vibrant hues will never fade.
As far as specifications go, the Ref. 116719 WG comes in a 40mm, 18k white gold case which features a patented triplock crown and the iconic red and blue “Pepsi” 24-hour Cerachrom, bidirectional bezel. It also features a rich black dial and white luminous hour markers. Movement-wise, it comes equipped with the 31 jewel Cal. 3186 self-winding GMT movement which also boasts an impressive 70-hour power reserve. The watch also comes on a white gold oyster bracelet.
I really do feel that the GMT function is the most practical complication to have on the wrist, even to this day. In fact, it is arguably the best complication Rolex makes. Period. All it takes is one look at the wrist and you will be able to tell the time in your selected time zone. For someone like me, or I am sure many of you, who travel a lot or even conduct business on the other side of the world, a GMT-Master is without a doubt, a welcome tool. It certainly is faster than fumbling around with your phone and tapping 10 times to open your clock. Ultimately, there’s a certain charm that is hard to explain in doing so but universally understood by all watch enthusiasts alike. If you know, then you know.
Although the Ref. 116719 WG is significantly heavier than its’ other GMT counterparts due to its material composition which is 18k white gold, I can still safely say that it is still an absolute pleasure to wear on the wrist, since it also comes with an oyster bracelet which features micro-adjustment capabilities to fit any wrist. Given the current climate and conditions of the market with Rolex GMT-Masters, this is still a watch that is very difficult to get your hands on and I have no doubt that it will continue to stay like this.