Rolex GMT-Master: Iconic Watch and Investment
The Rolex GMT-Master is a legend in the watch world. This timepiece displays a second time zone, and has held the fascination of watch enthusiasts for almost 70 years. As a coveted collector's item, the GMT-Master has become a profitable investment.
The Watch For Globetrotters and Investors
Rolex released the first GMT-Master in 1955. Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) commissioned the Genevan manufacturer to produce a timepiece that would enable their pilots and flight attendants on transatlantic flights to track the time back home as well as the time at their destination. Over the next 44 years, Rolex would produce numerous models with just slight deviations from the original design.
Rolex only produced the very first model, the ref. 6542, until 1959. This rare timepiece features a Bakelite bezel, and has experienced a significant increase in value over the past decade, with prices rising by nearly 200%.
This model was succeeded by the ref. 1675, which was upgraded to an aluminum bezel. This watch is also on the upswing, and has seen a strong increase in price as a result. In the past 10 years, its value has roughly quadrupled – there are not many conservative investments that can boast the same record. The last GMT-Master ever produced, the ref. 16700, has also performed well in the last five years. Today, it is worth about three times as much as it was in 2018.
Overall, almost all Rolex GMT-Masters have become coveted collector's items, and prices are on the rise. Two driving forces behind this strong value appreciation are demand outpacing supply, and the fact that alternative investment pieces such as art and luxury goods are becoming increasingly popular.
Furthermore, the GMT-Master has been a favorite of TV and film heroes. The watch made its big breakthrough in the 1964 James Bond flick "Goldfinger." Tom Selleck also wore a Rolex GMT-Master in his role as Magnum, P.I.
Reasons to Buy a Rolex GMT-Master
- High-quality luxury watch with a second time zone
- Popular models are very likely to appreciate in value
- Bidirectional bezel with a 24-hour scale
- In-house, COSC-certified caliber
- Available in stainless steel, solid gold, or stainless steel and gold (two-tone)
Prices at a Glance: Rolex GMT-Master
|Reference number||Price (approx.)||Bezel, caliber|
|6542||45,500 USD||Bakelite Pepsi bezel, caliber 1030|
|1675||20,000 USD||Pepsi bezel, caliber 1570|
|16750||16,000 USD||Pepsi bezel, caliber 3075|
|16700||14,500 USD||Pepsi bezel, caliber 3175|
|16753||16,000 USD||Root beer bezel, caliber 3075|
|16710||14,000 USD||Pepsi bezel, caliber 3185|
How much does a Rolex GMT-Master cost?
The earliest GMT-Masters bear the reference number 6542 and use the caliber 1036. These timepieces are rare and, therefore, expensive. Prices range from 25,500 USD to over 100,000 USD depending on the watch's condition, history, and accessories.
Its successor, the ref. 1675, had a production run of around 20 years and is thus much easier to find. This model gets its power from the Rolex caliber 1565. Prices for this timepiece have also increased significantly in recent years. Today, a pre-owned GMT-Master ref. 1675 costs about 20,500 USD. In comparison, the average price for this reference was "only" 12,000 USD in 2018, which corresponds to a price appreciation of over 70%.
Rolex manufactured the reference 16750 between 1979 and 1988. Its power comes from the caliber 3075. Prepare to spend around 16,500 USD for one of these timepieces in excellent condition. This is quite an increase from 2018, when prices were closer to 9,000 USD. The value appreciation for this watch is also extremely strong at 83%.
The GMT-Master ref. 16700 saw Rolex make the switch to scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. It is available with a Pepsi bezel, as well as a solid black bezel. The most recent editions feature indices filled with Super-LumiNova, a luminous material that replaced the use of tritium. Inside the watch, you'll find the slightly modified caliber 3175.
Prices for this model are also on the rise. New pieces now demand an investment of around 19,500 USD – that's over double what they cost five years ago. Even entry-level models with clear signs of wear have increased in value, rising from 6,000 USD in 2018 to about 14,000 USD at the time of writing.
Profitable GMT-Masters: "Root Beer" and "Nipple Dial"
In addition to the stainless steel GMT-Master, Rolex also produced "exotic" versions in white or yellow gold, as well as a two-tone version in gold and stainless steel. One example of a two-tone watch is the ref. 16753. This model features a glossy brown dial with gold applied indices. Fans quickly dubbed this color combination "Root Beer." A two-tone Jubilee bracelet completes the watch's retro look.
Expect to pay 16,500 USD for one of these timepieces in used condition. This model has thus appreciated by 100% since 2018.
Both the Root Beer and other gold GMT-Masters are available with a "nipple dial." This type of dial has smaller gold indices that protrude more than standard hour markers. The ref. 16758 is one such timepiece. You have the choice between a black or brown dial. This model exudes the unmistakable retro charm of the 1980s and costs about 40,500 USD pre-owned. While the value of this reference was relatively stable between 2017 and 2020 at around 15,000 USD to 20,500 USD, fans and investors have been willing to invest significantly more in this model since 2021.
Since 1982: The GMT-Master II
The GMT-Master II joined the Rolex family in the early 1980s. The original watch with the reference number 16760 features sapphire crystal and a red and black "Coke" bezel. It is outfitted with the then-new caliber 3085. This movement enables the wearer to independently adjust the hour hand, making it easier to set the local time. Due to its large, thick case, the watch earned the nickname "Fat Lady." As the first GMT-Master II, the watch is very popular with collectors. Today, a used "Fat Lady" requires an investment of some 14,500 USD, which is quite a jump from the 8,000 USD it cost in 2017. The first GMT-Master II reference has thus increased in value by 81%, making it quite a profitable investment.
Its successor, the ref. 16710, is outfitted with the slightly modified caliber 3185 and demands around 13,500 USD in similar condition. This reference has more or less doubled in value in the last five years.
Rolex upgraded the GMT-Master II in 2007, resulting in the ref. 116710LN. Two of the most obvious changes were the black ceramic bezel and weightier Oyster case, also known as the "maxi case."
The manufacturer ceased production of this GMT-Master II in 2019, causing prices to skyrocket. Today, pre-owned pieces sell for about 16,500 USD, while mint-condition watches can cost over 20,000 USD. Back in 2018, you could find this model selling for between 6,900 USD and 9,000 USD depending on its condition. The value of this edition has increased dramatically.
A Great Investment: The GMT-Master II Batman
The Rolex Batman (ref. 116710BLNR) with a blue and black bezel is one of the most highly sought-after GMT-Master models. Rolex only produced this particular reference from 2014 to 2019, and many collectors are keen to get their hands on one. Prices for never-worn timepieces rose from 9,000 USD in 2018 to more than 23,500 USD in 2022. Used Rolex Batman watches sell for roughly 20,500 USD.
While 2019 saw the retirement of the original Batman, it also marked the introduction of its successor, the ref. 126710BLNR. This timepiece is largely identical to its predecessor, but comes on a Jubilee bracelet. Rolex also decided to change the caliber from the 3186 to the in-house caliber 3285. This movement has a longer, 70-hour power reserve.
However, like the ref. 116710BLNR, the current model is extremely popular and comes with long wait times at offline retailers. If you'd prefer not to wait for the latest Rolex Batman ref. 126710BLNR, you will have to pay a lot more than the official retail price of 9,895 USD. Expect a significantly higher price tag of around 25,000 USD for one of these timepieces in mint condition. Pre-owned watches cost only slightly less at 23,500 USD. Both models have thus appreciated by around 10,000 USD in the last two years.
GMT-Master II: Pepsi Models Since 2019
In 2019, Rolex announced that they were ceasing production of all GMT-Master II models with black bezels. At the same time, they launched the new Batman and two other models with a red and blue "Pepsi" ceramic bezel. The ref. 126719BLRO features a blue dial and is powered by the caliber 3285. The case and bracelet are crafted from white gold. This model's financial performance is also strong; in August 2019, new timepieces changed hands for around 41,500 USD. As of May 2022, however, you will need to be ready to invest closer to 68,000 USD. Pre-owned models are a little easier on the wallet, costing around 56,000 USD.
The version with a meteorite dial has the same reference (126719BLRO), inner workings, and is also made of white gold. According to Rolex, the meteorite comes from the center of an asteroid or perhaps even an exploded planet. You could buy this GMT-Master II in mid-2022 in mint condition for about 89,500 USD. This means that its value has almost doubled in just one year.
If you can do without a cosmic dial and white gold case, you may prefer the stainless steel edition. Rolex introduced the ref. 126710BLRO in 2018. Instead of the usual Oyster bracelet, this model comes on a five-piece link Jubilee bracelet. From a technical perspective, this watch is identical to the rest of the collection. The only difference between this model and the Batman is its bezel color and red GMT hand. Never-worn pieces sell for around 30,000 USD on Chrono24. Used watches demand roughly 2,000 USD less. Considering that new and pre-owned pieces sold for around 17,500 USD at the end of 2018, this Rolex watch has potential as an investment.