A Love Affair with the Original Pilot Watch: the Rolex GMT Master II 16710

A Love Affair with the Original Pilot Watch: the Rolex GMT Master II 16710

rolex gmt master II LN

When it comes to Rolex watches, in general, I love them all. Our favorite references from Rolex are a group of watches known as the Oyster Collection. There are quite a few models in that collection but our heart lays with the Submariner, Sea-Dweller, Yacht-Master, Explorer, and least but not last the GMT Master. One specific watch reference that we have a true affinity for is the GMT Master II 16710.

GMT Master II Everest Leather

The GMT MASTER II 16710 has had a long history, starting with the inception of the GMT Master 6542. This watch was originally designed for Pan Am pilots as a nautical time keeping device. The pilot could (and still can) keep the correct time in three separate time zones. The first way to keep time is through the classic form of the 12 hour hand, the second is through the use of the 24 hour hand (also sometimes referred to as the GMT hand) and additionally there is a 24 hour bezel that can be rotated to adjust against the 24 hour hand to set the third time zone. This unique design has been copied many times over, but nobody does it better than Rolex.

Rolex GMT Master II LN

Rolex truly made us all go crazy over this watch since its inception in the mid-1950s. With that though, the 16710 really does have a place in our heart when it comes to a true jet-setter’s watch. The watch itself was manufactured from 1989-2007 when it was replaced with the 116710. The 16710 came in three bezel color options: an all black bezel known as the LN, a black and red bezel insert aka the COKE insert and a blue and red bezel insert known as the BLNO or PEPSI insert. There isn’t any difference other than the bezel insert coloring for this watch line. Each watch came with a 3185 movement up until the last year when Rolex designed a new GMT movement, the 3186. They still use the 3186 movements today in the other watch lines that offer a GMT hand. Here is a breakdown from www.gmtmasterhistory.com of the differences over the years:

Production Period: 1989-2007

Model Name: Rolex GMT Master II

Caliber: 3185 (late models with 3186), 28800A/h, hacking, quickset (24-hour-hand)

Pressure proof to 100m/330ft

Bracelet: Oyster 78360 and 78790 (Oysterlock), Jubilé 62510

Glass: Sapphire crystal

Bezel: Anodized aluminum, 120 clicks


  • Tritium (until 1997): T<25 dial
  • Luminova (1998/99): Swiss dial
  • Superluminova (2000-2007): Swiss made dial
  • The Ref. 16710 replaced 1989 the Ref. 16760 featuring a new, but identical functioning caliber and a slimmer design.
  • Variant: Luminova on a T<25 dial (1998)


  • 1997/2000: Tritium -> Luminova -> Superluminova
  • 2000: Solid end link bracelet indroduced (SEL).
  • 2003: Laser crown introduced.
  • 2003: No holes case starting (late Y-series).
  • 2007: New certificate (plastic/credit card size) introduced (Z-series).
  • Late 2007: Caliber 3186 instead of 3185 (late Z-series and the M-series).

Available with three different bezels:

  • Red/Black aka Coke (Bezel 315-16760-7)
  • BLRO, Blue/Red aka Pepsi (bleu/rouge), (Bezel 315-16700-6)
  • LN, Black (lunette noire), (Bezel 315-16700-1)


Other variants:

Ref. 16713 steel/yellow gold aka Tigerauge (Eye of the Tiger) (Bezel: 315-16713-5 or 315-16718-1); Oysterbracelet 78363 and 78793 (Oysterlock), Jubilee bracelet 62523

Ref. 16718 yellow gold (Bezel 315-16718-3); Oysterbracelet 7206/8 and 78798 (Oysterlock), Jubilébracelet 8386/8

gmt master II 16710 rubber

Since the watch is out of production, you can find one on the second hand market if you desire. They range in price from $3000 to as much as $6500 for a flawless new old stock one. One thing that is quite nice about this Rolex model is that the inserts can be purchased for very little, and for a few extra dollars, you can have three watches in one! As you know, we love to customize our Rolex with a fresh strap each day, but you can just as easily change out the insert.

In closing, the GMT Master II 16710 is just an iconic watch that has stood the test of time. There are three simple variations of bezel insert that give this watch a great combination of looks while somehow each looking unique but still perfectly Rolex. We love them all, and of course, we make a few strap options to give the GMT owner a new look and feel beyond the oyster bracelet.

116710 GMT Master II BLNR Leather



The post A Love Affair with the Original Pilot Watch: the Rolex GMT Master II 16710 appeared first on Bezel & Barrel written by Michael DiMartini.

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