Fasten your seatbelts for the story of the inimitable Rolex GMT-Master! As civil aviation took off after World War II, airlines began to fly over longer distances. As a result, pilots required accurate watches that could display multiple time zones simultaneously.
In the early 1950s, Pan American Airways (Pan-Am) requested Rolex to develop a watch for this very purpose. The GMT-Master (‘GMT’ standing for ‘Greenwich Mean Time’) was introduced in 1954. It featured a 24-hour hand alongside the regular 12-hour hand. In combination with a bidirectional 24-hour bezel, this GMT hand could be used to read the home time zone while the 12-hour hand displayed the ‘local’ time.
Despite its close links to aviation and its professional purpose, the Rolex GMT enjoys a fanbase far beyond the pilots it was originally intended for. Over the years Rolex has introduced many wonderful variations of the GMT: take your pick!