Basel world exhibition of 1954 is a memorable moment to Rolex and the watch world. In this year, Rolex presented Explorer especially for explorers, Submariner especially for divers and Turn-0-Graph for common consumers, transferred the concept of utility watch into specific image, acting a leading role in the watch world. It was certainly the working effort of all the Rolex staff, but the public relationship manager of Rolex Rene-Paul Jeanneret, who was a sports lover, also made great contributions to putting the concept into reality. It was just because of Rolex’s leading role in the watch design and production, so it attracted Pan-Am, the biggest airline company in the world, who hoped to own a practical watch specially designed for their pilots to fly among different time zone. After the negotiation between Pan-Am and Rene-Paul Jeanneret, who were both leading enterprises in their respective market, then a famous GMT-Master came out.
Pan-Am assigned a famous pilot leader Frederick Libby, who was an air war hero in the Second World War to offer technology consultation, and Jeanneret wanted to add a rotary 24-hour watch bezel, and had a conception of adding another hand on the dial to show a second time zone. In technology, Rolex took 6202 to match the Turn-O-Graph of movement 1030 as the basis of assembling, plus a 24-hour gear shape display and new date dial, and then a new 1065 came out. Apart from the double colors rotary second time zone outside bezel with a 24-hour mark, the first generation of GMT-master of 6542 is quite similar with Turn-O-Graph and Submariner from semblance, also without crown protecting shoulders. However, what needs to pay attention is” the first generation GMT-Master of 6542 is the first Rolex with date Cyclops. In 1956, the second time zone plastic outside bezel of GMT-Master was replaced by steel which had been used in the future days. GMT-Master became the officially certified chronograph for Pan-Am, and the company distributed one GMT-Master to each official, pilot and navigator.
From 1960, GMT-Master was changed into Ref.1675, and started to match crown protecting shoulders, and GMT hands on the dial also became quite big, and were very similar with the editions nowadays. The mark of Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified used by present editions was also carved on the dial of Ref.1675. But different from officially certified chronometer of Ref.6542, It mainly used Caliber 1565, which had Micro Stella free sprung balance and became more accurate. Ref.1675 is not only popular with Pan-Am but also other pilots from Civil Aircrafts and it is also welcome by common consumers. It was sold pretty well nearly 20 years, which is one of the best sell watches in Rolex.
GMT-Master is not only loved by civil aviations, but also gains high evaluation from military and many combat pilots wore it in succession. In 1940’s and 1950’s, NASA started a series of tests and challenges to flying speed and height, eventually the trial aircraft North American X15 made a record of 4,534 mph (7,269 kph), which has not been broken so far. What the pilot of X15 wore was GMT Master, and he so admired the accuracy of GMT Master even it was at a height of 45,000 feet and endured furious operation and Centrifugal Force of more than 3.5G. We could still find the reason why Pete Knight chose to wear GMT Master: there had been always heroes in Edward Air Force Base where Pete Knight belonged to, what Chuck Yeager wore when drove Bell X-1 to conquer the sound barrier was Rolex Oyster which had companied him for many years in the Second World War.
In 1976, GMT had an improvement again, and launched an improved edition owning the function of second stopping; in 1980, GMT Master was changed into Ref. 16750, increasing its quick date adjustment function. Later, GMT-Master was again changed into Ref. 16700, and the watch mirror evolved into sapphire crystal glass. In 1983, Rolex presented GMT-Master II, which was Ref.16710, matching the Calibre 3085 together with GMT hands. Since the 24-hour watch bezel and GMT hands can rotate in two directions, making GMT Mater own a function of three time zones display. From the persistent in typical design of GMT M aster and continuous improvement which keeps pace with the time, it is not hard to conclude that it is such watch making culture that makes Rolex a rising brand and a permanent love by consumers.