Based in Geneva, Switzerland, Rolex was founded in 1905 and has been producing widely admired timepieces ever since making them undoubtedly one of the most iconic watch brands in the world. Some of Rolex’s most legendary watches include the Submariner, the Daytona, the Datejust, and the GMT Master.
Rolex has a history of crafting timepieces tailored to a specific audience and their unique needs. For instance, the Submariner was made with divers in mind, and the Daytona was inspired by the particular needs of racecar drivers. Similarly, the GMT-Master was initially designed as an aviator watch for pilots.
In the 1940s and ‘50s, long-distance flights such as transatlantic flights began to gain popularity resulting in a never-before-seen occurrence: flights regularly passing through multiple time zones. This change encouraged Pan Am to reach out to Rolex, requesting a watch that could display more than a single time zone simultaneously. In response, Rolex launched the first GMT-Master in 1954 with the reference 6542.
Ever since the GMT-Master was first produced nearly 70 years ago, it has been popular with commercial and US Air Force pilots, frequent travelers, and those who conduct business with international partners. This exceptional timepiece has also proved to be a favorite among NASA astronauts, including James Lovell and Jack Swigert of Apollo 13, both of whom proudly sport a Rolex GMT-Master.
The watch collector community often gives specific watch models or references fun nicknames that become an easy way to refer to and remember standout timepieces. These names usually relate to the colors of the watches; for instance, two of the most popular models of the Rolex Submariner have touches of green and watch enthusiasts amusingly name them after two of the most famous green characters: Kermit and the Hulk.
When the black and blue GMT Master II was first launched in 2014, it was affectionately dubbed “Batman” because the colors are often associated with the DC Comics superhero. This black and blue model is also frequently referred to as Phantom, Dark Knight, and Bruiser.
The Batman is not the only curiously-named GMT-Master model; in fact, colorful Rolex GMT-Masters are regularly named after soft drinks, such as root beer and Coke. One of their most iconic models is the Rolex GMT-Master Pepsi, so-called because its blue and red two-tone bezel is reminiscent of the beverage’s logo.
The Rolex GMT-Master II’s most coveted feature remains the dual time zone functionality, which is achieved through an impressively minimal design. Unlike other multi-time zone watches that tend to overcrowd the dial with subdials, making it difficult to read at a glance, the GMT-Master cleverly incorporates a bidirectional rotatable bezel and a clean black dial.
The local time is displayed using the traditional hour, minute, and second hands. By adding an extra hand (differentiated by its blue color, extended length, and arrow tip), Rolex manages to display two time zones at once. This extra hour hand points to the bezel, which is engraved with a 24-hour dial.
Both local and reference times are easily set using the Triplock winding crown and rotatable bezel. The hour hand can be adjusted in either direction independent of the other hands. The simplicity of this function means you can easily change either time whenever it’s convenient.
If you need to check a reference time against the local hour but don’t wish to set your watch to that time, you can simply rotate the bezel to the correct hour, a nifty function that is particularly useful if you need to arrange video conferences with people around the globe.
Rolex has designed the bezel of the GMT-Master II Batman with extreme care, taking style and functionality into account. The aluminum bezel is made with a Cerachrom insert, introduced by Rolex in 2005. This incredibly hard ceramic material is virtually scratchproof and highly corrosion-resistant, making this sought-after timepiece remarkably durable.
Another benefit of Cerachrom is that it is resistant to ultraviolet rays, meaning that the bold blue and back colors featured on the GMT-Master II Batman will retain their vibrancy for years to come. The dual color insert seen on both the Batman and the Pepsi models is achieved using Rolex’s patented process and has a practical as well as an aesthetic function.
The colors split at the six o’clock mark (both am and pm, 6 and 18), with the daylight hours in blue and dark hours in black. This color-coding makes comparing the local and reference times even easier. The bezel has a diamond-polished surface, giving it a stunning luster.
The engraved 24-hour graduations use Arabic numerals for the even-numbered hours and a simple dot to indicate the odd-numbered hours. This decision ensures the bezel is highly legible and doesn’t overwhelm the design. The graduations are coated with a thin layer of platinum through a Physical Vapor Deposition process.
Rolex works hard to ensure that all their professional watches have superior legibility in all conditions. The GMT-Master II Batman features the Swiss watch manufacturer’s popular geometric shape hour markers, which use a rectangle to indicate the six and nine o’clock, an upside-down triangle for the 12 o’clock, and circles for the other hours. This system makes for easy reading and is particularly helpful on the GMT-Master models, which already have Arabic numbers on their bezels.
Each of the hour makers is crafted with Chromalight, a photoluminescent material that glows blue in low light, allowing the wearer to tell the time in the dark. Chromalight is also used on the four hands, which each have a distinctive shape, making them easy to tell apart at a glance. The chic black dial enhances the legibility and gives this sports watch a sophisticated edge.
The date is displayed at the three o’clock position through a date window and indicates the local date, that is the date associated with the time presented in the dial. These days, date windows are common on watches, but it was one of Rolex’s innovations, which they first unveiled on the 1945 Rolex Datejust.
The GMT-Master II Batman uses Rolex’s Cyclops lens to improve readability, which they patented and launched in the early 1950s. In keeping with Rolex’s habit of creating fun names for their products, the lens was named after the giant one-eyed creatures from Greek and Roman mythology. The name certainly pairs well with the comic-book-inspired GMT-Master II Batman! Rolex’s Cyclops magnifies the emblematic date two and a half times, leaving you with no excuse for forgetting the date.
While some models of the GMT-Master II are fitted with the more sporty Oyster bracelet, the Batman boasts the classy Jubilee style, which gives it a slightly dressier feel. With five-piece links, the Jubilee is one of Rolex’s most intricate bracelets and was specially created in 1945 for the launch of the Oyster Perpetual Datejust. The GMT-Master II’s Jubilee bracelet has polished inner links while the outer links have a brushed finish, creating a subtle sense of dimension.
The Jubilee bracelet has been designed with comfort, as well as style, in mind. The links are curved for a more pleasant wearing experience, and they have been carefully designed so they don’t catch the wearer’s fine wrist hairs. Rolex traditionally pairs the Jubilee bracelet with the Oyster clasp, but the brand has chosen to fit the GMT-Master II with an Oysterlock folding clasp, commonly seen on Rolex’s sports models. This super-secure clasp has an additional safety bar that prevents accidental opening, which is extremely useful when wearing the watch while being active.
The Oysterlock is also equipped with the Easylink comfort extension link, a nifty mechanism that can be used to lengthen the strap by up to 5mm without affecting the sleek design. Not only does this mean that more people can comfortably wear the GMT-Master II Batman, but it also enables the wearer to expand the bracelet for comfort when the temperature rises or they are doing physical activity that may cause their wrist to swell.
The bracelet and case are made from Oystersteel, a non-corrosive 904L stainless steel specially developed by Rolex. This grade of steel is typically used in the aerospace and chemical industries, where corrosion resistance is paramount. This durability means your Rolex GMT-Master II Batman will retain its shine indefinitely.
The size of men’s Rolex watches ranges between 31mm and 44mm. In 1959, when they introduced crown guards, Rolex increased the size of the GMT-Master from 38mm to 40mm, making it one of the larger models available, giving it a masculine look without being too chunky.
The choice of Jubilee bracelet adds a touch of elegance to this attractive timepiece, making it suitable for all occasions and helping it straddle the line between sports and dress watch perfectly. This refined style is enhanced by the GMT-Master II Batman’s color combination of black and blue, which is more reserved than the bold red and blue featured on the Pepsi model, making it easy to wear with a suit on formal occasions.
Luxury watch enthusiasts have come to expect water resistance as a standard feature of their timepieces, and Rolex doesn’t disappoint. The Swiss watch manufacturer’s most water-resistant watch is the Sea-Dweller, which boasts an unbelievable 3,900m resistance thanks, in large part, to its helium escape valve.
Rolex’s other main diving watch, the Submariner, one of the brand’s most popular models, is also known for its water resistance. However, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that the GMT-Master II Batman also sports an impressive 100m of water resistance, meaning you don’t have to worry about wearing your model while on the water or at the beach this summer.
The GMT-Master II Batman is fitted with a new caliber 3285 movement, which, like all Rolex Perpetual movements, is a certified Swiss chronometer. This accolade, which is reserved for the world’s finest precision timepieces, indicates that the movement successfully passed the tests set out by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). Among other things, COSC’s test checks a watch’s accuracy at various temperatures and positions.
The caliber 3285, which was developed and manufactured in-house, has an outstanding extended power reserve of approximately 70 hours. This is a 22-hour improvement on the previous caliber 3135/31XX movements. This development was primarily made possible thanks to the more efficient Chronergy escapement, which is made of a magnetic field-resistant nickel-phosphorus alloy. Rolex has optimized the escapement mechanism by making lighter cut-out components using the LIGA galvanic process.
One of the most impressive features of the new caliber 3285 is the Blue Parachrom hairspring, also known as a balance spring, which took five years to develop. The hairspring is the most vital part of a watch as it regulates the speed of the hands’ movements while withstanding magnetism, shocks, and temperature changes.
Rolex created its Blue Parachrom hairspring using a paramagnetic alloy that is insensitive to magnetic fields. It also has an exceptionally high resistance to heat and wear.
Although the GMT-Master II Batman is not the first watch that comes to mind when thinking about Rolex’s back catalog, it is an undeniably remarkable timepiece. Its chic style, exceptional reliability, and fantastic durability make it the perfect everyday watch. In a world where international business and travel is the norm, the GMT-Master II Batman’s dual time zone display is a must-have feature.
If you’re tempted by this beautiful timepiece, head over to Bailey’s Fine Jewelry, where we have a 2019 GMT-Master II Batman model available, unworn with box and card. We also have many other examples of stunning timepieces from excellent brands such as Tag Heuer and Cartier.