The value of the Rolex GMT Master

Borro Benchmarks: The Collectability of the Rolex GMT Master Family

The Backstory

The Rolex GMT Master that first appeared in 1954 as part of a collaboration with the now-defunct airline, Pan Am.

Designed in response to the world suddenly shrinking and pilots crossing time zone boundaries much more often, it’s progeny – the GMT Master II released in 1983 – has since gone on to become one of the most desirable watches in the history of our industry.

As a cornerstone of the industry’s GMT market, the Rolex GMT Master family is often seen as a trendsetter, and an archetype whose subtle advancements in build quality and design echo down the ages.

The value of the Rolex GMT Master

Which Models to Watch

In Baselworld 2018 Rolex debuted the newest iteration of their classic ‘Pepsi’ bezel, now rendered in Cerachrom, and presented on a jubilee bracelet in Rolesor steel.

It was not only magnificent to behold, it blew sales expectations out of the water.

Retailing at $9,400, the Rolex GMT Master II ‘Pepsi’ variant is a bargain. If (and it is the most gargantuan ‘if’ I’ve ever used) you get the chance to buy one of these at retail, do it. Do it even if you have to take out a new credit card. It’s worth it.

Realistically, you’re now looking at a two-year waiting list to get this piece on your wrist (and that’s if Rolex decides to release the piece to your retailer, and assuming your retailer wants to sell it to you).

For that reason, the Rolex GMT Master II ‘Pepsi’ is trading with ease on the grey market at over $20,000. But please beware. If you do have one of these watches, and you’ve bought it through official channels, DO NOT rush to sell it immediately. If Rolex or your retailer find out you flipped such a preferential model, they will blacklist for a serious lack of respect.

If you’re serious about collecting watches and you’re in this game for the long haul, that kind of reputational stinger is something you want to avoid.

And anyway, you only have to hold onto it for 3 years before Rolex would tolerate you selling it. In my opinion, these watches aren’t going to do anything but appreciate as time goes on, so I’d buy now and stick it in the safe (or just wear it and enjoy it for the brilliant timepiece it is).

The value of the Rolex GMT Master

Under the Hammer and the Value of the Rolex GMT Master

The wild success of the latest version has refocused interest on the old models also. This is great news if you own one, less so if you’re trying to pick one up for cheap.

The most expensive member of the GMT family ever sold is the a variant of the family’s forerunner, the GMT Master reference 6542, which sold for $347,000 in 2016.

So if you’re looking for an investment piece, buy very new or very old; if you just want to join one of the coolest clubs in the world, then pick up something from the middle era from the pre-owned market.

Learn more about the collectability of other Rolex models in our Borro Benchmark series by clicking here, or view them below.

About the Author:

Fell Jensen is a Swiss-trained watchmaker working as an industry analyst.