When it comes to history, Rolex has literally countless stories to uncover about its many unique watches. One watch in particular has an incredible history the Rolex GMT. Originally, Pan Am Airlines hired Rolex to create a watch for its pilots, as a tool to track multiple time zones during long haul flights. In the 1950’s Rolex and Pan Am developed the first Rolex GMT fashioned from a Rolex Turn-O-Graph and a custom movement that Rolex developed just for Pan Am and its pilots. This movement is the Caliber 1036, that of course later evolved to the caliber 1065 and then to the caliber 1066. This true aviators watch was originally model Ref: 6542 and now is practically a ghost in the vintage Rolex world.
The main feature that of course is so impressive is that the watch had a “24 Hour Hand” that kept time in a 24 hour military format using the rotating bezel as the hour markers. The original bezel was made from a Bakelight material and was actually luminescent. This allowed the pilots of Pan Am to keep track of up to 3 time zones on one watch and tell what time it was in low light. This made keeping track of time very easy for pilots flying these long hauls in the 1950s when aviation was becoming quite the thing to travel.
In 1954, Rolex came out with a model of the Rolex GMT Master that could be purchased by the general public. This watch was an instant success due to this unique feature of keeping time of more then one time zone. This was almost revolutionary due to the complexity of the movement itself. Additionally, the watch grew in popularity due to the James Bond film Goldfinger. In Goldfinger, the gorgeous Pussy Galore, a pilot in the motion picture, wore a Rolex GMT Master.
As always, we at Everest attempt to bring you interesting topics about Rolex and its many faceted history like the Rolex GMT Master.
Written by Michael DiMartini.