“Time stands still when I think of you.” Cut Copy’s perceptive lyrics offers a more poetic description of the Rolex GMT-Master II than my layman’s prose ever could. There are some products that have shaped their industries, and others that have shaped industries beyond their own. The original GMT-Master, when it first emerged from the secretive labs of Switzerland’s crown jewel, did both. That’s something few can boast.
The second-timezone watch democratized a watch function that held rank in the halls of high watchmaking – the world-timer. It made keeping track of time across continents convenient. It heralded an era of watch development that emphasized function over material, utility over glamour. In so doing, it became an object of glamour of its own. After all, you don’t need a watch that indicates time in a different part of the world unless you’re a frequent traveler, the owner of a multinational firm, or you have assets across the globe. The fact that an airline and its piloting crew were the earliest adopters of Rolex’s GMT-Master added to its equity (this was a time when no one had to walk barefoot in an airport and be subjected to having your body scanned and assessed by security personnel.)
My fondness for Rolex’s GMT watches started from a young age, but it has transformed into an admiration for the rigor with which the firm continues to enhance its staples. That’s a business attitude that few bother with today. The development of the two-color Cerachrom and the vividness of its coloring will likely remain a perpetual Rolex secret. Although, on a very personal note, I do find it surprising – nay, downright shocking – that both Rolex and its sibling Tudor have released “Pepsi” editions of the watch this year, I’m relieved that they’ve kept the “Root Beer” to themselves. I’m equally aware that Rolex would probably prefer I didn’t refer to them as such. Yet that’s the power of a cult following – to define a product far beyond what it was intended for originally.
The new Calibre 3285 that drives the watch also delivers improved performance, making this a more reliable wrist partner than ever before. I’d expected Syloxi to make a greater appearance in Rolex editions. But, like a good engine developer that continues to focus on skill and clever tweaks to get the most out of a steady workhorse, Rolex shows one doesn’t have to only rely on new technology to make a good thing better. Based on the Calibre 3255 and featuring the Chronergy escapement, along with ingenious improvements made to the mainspring, gear transmission and amagnetic balance staff, the watchmaker demonstrates why it still holds respect among collectors, critics, peers and Revolution editors.