Today we are talking about one of the most interesting and wanted Rolex sports models of the past 60 years. The Rolex GMT Master. Thomas, there are ten exciting Rolex watches on our tray. But I see another watch that doesn’t belong here. What is this Patek Philippe doing on this tray? During the 1930s, telling a second time zone had suddenly become an issue. People travelled more, especially in the US and South America where there are several time zones from East to West. People wanted to tell the second time zone on their watches, too. Patek was the first one to tackle a second time zone in a watch. Of course, this is a modern Patek, but it looks almost identical to the watch of the 30s. In those days, city names, representing time zones were printed on the dial, which took up space. The hour pointer was set to a city and displayed the time there. It renders the dial quite small. It is nice, but not as clear as people wished for in modern times. The original watches of the 30s were even smaller. And if you had poor eyesight, it was very difficult to read the time. And in darkness it was impossible. So, this wasn’t really practical, but it was a great start and it still looks super. But it gets us nowhere. So let’s put it aside and turn to Rolex, to the year 1954/1955. The patent GMT Master – which stands for Greenwich Mean Time – A watch using a fourth hand, in addition to the hands for hours, minutes and seconds. A hand dedicated to a second time zone. Interestingly, this hand makes just one full turn a day, and is not being read on the dial, but on the bezel. Anonymously, so to speak. No city names, no countries. Just numbers so that every time zone can be set precisely in advance. It’s great to know which time zone Karachi is. But it is far more important to know if you have four or six hours of difference, daylight savings time or winter. It can be easily read, even in darkness. So Rolex was contracted by PAN AM. PAN AM airlines had pilots going back and forth between Paris and New York. The company wanted them to be able to see both their local time and New York time at one glance. PAN AM went to Rolex and said ‘create a sporty, waterproof, shockproof watch with a second time zone added.’ And then this watch hit the market with a Bakelite bezel: The famous 6542 is an extremely wanted and beautiful watch. We are actually holding a great example in our hands. But Bakelite is extremely shock sensitive. Speaking of toughness. Rolex didn’t really do itself a big favor during the first four to five years. But Rolex keeps developing everything, all the time such as the non existing crown protection. Pretty soon they stopped producing it. Around 1960/1961, I believe, Rolex dumps Bakelite, this sensitive plastic and advances to the next model, the 1675. A visually similar watch. This one with a nice tropic dial. From here on they come with an effective crown protection. The Bakelite has been replaced by a printed metal plate. Very appropriate. The watch had grown in diameter, too. Also, it was a little lower and not as sensitive as the Bakelite model which, however, had a fascinating glow from below. Even today, if you hold a Bakelite one under a lamp, you will notice a slight glow. Radium. A highly radioactive substance. Correct. You better not put it in your mouth. Of course, this got lost with the metal bezel. The legibility has improved. The digits are bigger, and they arrived at blue and red. Later, bezels became available in black, too. Blue and red or black and blue in order to tell day from night. It was nicknamed Pepsi, because it looked like a can of Pepsi. Pepsi, Coke, Root Beer, there are plenty of nicknames. Pussy Galore. These nicks prove how popular the GMT has become, especially during the last five to six years. Looking at the two early watches, early 60s, 1961 with a so called chapter dial and a 1675 from the late 70s. I still see a radium dial. It was dumped around ’62 / ’63, after the transition when Tritium was used, which was also radioactive, but weaker. The watches still look alike very much. But the GMT hand is bigger, the crown protection wider and more solid. The lacquer dial has been replaced by a mat one. Many details, evolving from year to year, which is very typical for Rolex, one could say. If we hold the very first and the very last model side by side it is clear on first sight that the design has been maintained. The size has changed a little. Sixty years lie between these two. Surely it is part of Rolex’s success that the watches are instantly identifiable both as Rolex and as GMTs. Maybe this is also because the ceramics used today gleams like Bakelite rather than printed metal. It doesn’t glow, though. The digits on the bezel are metallic. But it can still break. Just like Bakelite. We already had a broken bezel. Rather costly to replace. The old metal bezels used to be much tougher. Of course there were scratches and changes. We brought some bezels. That’s nice. These altered colors are very trendy. Clients search between strong colors and totally faded shades. These bezels are rare and quite expensive. Exchangeable. Any concessionaire can switch bezel inlays in a moment. The watch looks very different, as soon as I put one on it. This is a so called ghost bezel. It looks quite cool. Like faded blue jeans with holes. A lot of people love it. Certainly one of the sexiest watches ever produced by Rolex. And with a bezel and a strap you can assemble a completely new watch. Unfortunately, one cannot order single bezels anymore. It used to be easier in the past. It dramatically alters the looks.