Tuesday, March 29, 2022

The Complete History of The Rolex GMT-Master...

2022 Coverage

Watches & Wonders 

My Best Guess?

Our Captain Danny published a brilliant story yesterday on Rolex's Teaser Video for Watches & Wonders. Nick Gould and I have been doing a really deep dive into the GMT-Master recently for an exciting upcoming Rolex History project and we have gained tremendous new insight into its genesis. There has been a lot of speculation about a brand-new GMT-Master Variant launching at Watches & Wonders later today, so I thought it would make sense to republish my story titled "The Complete History of the Rolex GMT-Master."

Jenni Elle published her SUPERB analysis of Rolex Novelties 2022 which is a superb video named "ROLEX showed TOO MUCH in their TEASER this time, in which she predicts a GMT-Sprite, or a Sprite GMT-Master with a black and green bezel insert:

Nothing To See Here

When I was watching Jenni Elle's fascinating video, I could not help but notice something REALLY STRANGE!?!! In the screen shot below of her video, notice the Batgirl looks normal. Nothing to see here. But notice the watch image on the right side, which is clearly a GMT-Master, features the winding crown on the wrong side!?!?!? If you look at the image above from the Rolex Teaser, at first glance it appears as if the GMT-Master on the left is being reflected on the right side, but upon closer examination the one of the left side has a "6" on top, and what appears to be an "8" below. The watch on the right appears to be bouncing be between "18" & "20". If this was a mirror image, the the "18" would NOT be below the "20". In other words, I think tit would be a physical impossibility. Right!?!! 

Which, if I am calculating correctly would make it a "left handed" GMT-Master, which seems REALLY ODD, as Rolex hasn't made a left handed GMT-Master for MANY DECADES!?!?!?! Jean-Frederic Dufour, who is the current CEO of Rolex, from what I have heard is very involved in the design of Rolex watches, and he happens to be left handed. Hmmmnnn!?!?!?

Adrain from Bark and Jack also offered this superb analysis:

Ironically, one of the last times I published this story was before Rolex launched the stainless Pepsi GMT-Master at BaselWorld in 2018. Danny and I will be doing complete coverage of Watches & Wonders tonight at 11:30PM PST, which is 8:30AM Geneva time on March 30th.

The Complete History Of 

The Rolex GMT-Master

The Birth Of A True Icon

What do Brad Pitt, Dizzy Gillespie, Che Guevara, Pablo Picasso, Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson, Tom Selleck, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Placido Domingo, Hunter S. Thompson, Sir Jackie Stewart, Chuck Yeager, Eric Clapton, Sylvester Stallone and Jimmy Buffet all have in common? They have all proudly worn Rolex GMT-Master models.

The Rolex GMT-Master is considered to be one of Rolex's most iconic watches, and this story offers an overview of the origins of this fascinating model, as well as exploring some famous people who have depended on this watch to keep the time of their lives...

The First Rolex GMT-Master from 1955

This is a stunning photo of a very-rare, all-original, Pepsi Rolex GMT Master from 1955, and it appears courtesy of John Goldberger. Rolex first began selling the GMT Master in 1955 and as you see in the image below, the watch has no crown guards, and it has a transparent bakelite bezel insert which used. It is fascinating to note the numbers and markers on the bezel insert also glowed in the dark by using Strontium 90.

The inside of the case back is pictured below. Of course, we see the Reference Number 6542, but notice that underneath is says "IV.55", which means the watch case was made in the fourth quarter of 1955. 

1955 Rolex GMT Master Ad

Kevin Combs is a fan of Jake's Rolex World and he sent in this vintage Rolex GMT Master ad from 1955s, which shows the exact Rolex GMT model as seen above.

GMT Bakelite Bezel

The original GMT Master models—beginning in 1955—featured a so-called "bakelite" bezel insert that would glow in the dark, and some of them still do, as seen in the lume-shots below. This first image from Stefano Mazzariol shows the bezel insert still glowing after all these years.

This next image shows both the dial and bezel insert and hands still glowing.

The first generation Rolex GMT had what has been dubbed a "Bakelite Bezel" but I don't think it is made from bakelite. It appears to be some kind of clear epoxy. 

The amazing thing about the design of these original GMT bezels is that the numbers on the bezel glowed in the dark and as M has shown in these amazing macro photos, the numbers seem to be frozen in an icy bezel–kind of like insect specimens that got trapped in tree sap millions of years ago, and can still be seen through the sap.

Below we see the original Rolex GMT-Master brochure for this timeless sports watch.

Rolex GMT-Master Ad

Dizzy Gillespie
1958 Rolex GMT Master
Inaugural Monterey Jazz Festival

On Jake's Rolex World one of my favorite things over the years is Rolex Spotting. In other words, finding and showing photos of famous people wearing Rolex watches in their real lives. The very first known photo of a celebrity wearing a Rolex GMT-Master belongs to none other than the Jazz Legendary Trumpeter, Dizzy Gillespie. Dizzy Gillespie is pictured below at the 1958 Monterey Jazz Festival wearing his then Avant-Garde Rolex GMT-Master. Every time I look at this image it freaks me out—in a good way. Specifically, to see this amazingly talented man proudly sporting his GMT-Master at such a seminal event, long before many people had even heard of Rolex. Dizzy Gillespie was definitely way ahead of the curve...

Dizzy Gillespie was one of the founding musicians of the Monterey Jazz Festival, along with Billy Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Milt Jackson, Sonny Rollins and Dave Brubeck. I can't believe I am looking at a photo of Dizzy at the first Monterey Jazz Festival, and he is sporting his Rolex GMT!!! Of course, the Monterey Jazz Festival still exists today, and it is one of the longest consecutively running Jazz festivals in the world.

Dizzy Gillespie worshiped Louis Armstrong, and in the photo taken below on October 1, 1958, at the Monterey Film Festival, we see Dizzy Gillespie kissing Louis Armstrong's hand. If you are not familiar with Louis Armstong, you should be. He was not only the father of Jazz but the greatest Jazz musician and singer that ever lived.

Dizzy Gillespie wore the same Rolex GMT-Master his whole from the mid-1950s until he died in 1993. He wore in on both a Jubilee Bracelet as well as on a Rolex Oyster bracelet as seen in the photo below.

"I've worn my Rolex GMT-Master for 30 years. That's the thing with Rolex; they last forever. " –Dizzy Gillespie (1987)

Pan Am 
1958 Vanilla Coke GMT-Master
Stafano Mazzariol

Stefano Mazzariol is one of my favorite vintage Rolex collectors. He lives in Italia and his passion for vintage Rolex is intoxicating. He took these STUNNING photo of his STUNNINGLY rare and magnificent 1958 [Reference: 6542] Albino Pan Am Vanilla Coke GMT-Master. 

Rolex originally designed the GMT Master for Pan American World Airways (Pan AM) and as the folklore goes, they made the white dialed versions for Pan Am executives, whereas the standard black dialed versions were for Pan Am Pilots. This watch also has a bunch of other really cool features like the Coke (Red & Black) Bakelite Bezel Insert, as well as the red date and no crown guards. What a crazy, magnificent treat!!! Thanks for sharing Stefano!!!! You are the best!!!!

1958 Pan Am Crew is Pictured in front of their 707. Pan American Airlines was the first commercial airlines in the world to offer international service and was considered to be the premiere international U.S. airline of from the 1930 until it shut-down in 1991.

For decades, Pan Am was considered to be the number one airline in the world as well as the first real international airline.

In 1959 Rolex introduced an updated version of this model that came with a new model reference of 1675. The Rolex GMT-Master [Reference 1675] also added crown guards as seen below in the "I Want A Good Watch" brochure.


Fidel Castro 

Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro wore many Rolex watches, but he probably wore his Rolex GMT-Master models the most. In the first two photos below we see Fidel Castro wearing an early Coke GMT-Master which has no crown guards.

The Fidel Castro photo below is a trip if you think about it!?!! He is driving around with his Rolex GMT-Master Coke on his wrist, which is a reference 6452, and he has a Soviet Kalashnikov AK-47 just behind him in the storage bin, and he is giving an interview to Richard Elder of The New York Times!!! What a crazy life being a revolutionary must have been for him.

Switch from Coke To Pepsi

In the next three photos of Fidel Castro, taken in the early 1960s we see his wearing a later model Rolex GMT-Master that has crown guards.

Che Guevara 

Che Guevara was Fidel Castro's right-hand man, and he also wore a Rolex GMT-Master as seen in the two photos below.

Honor Blackman wore a Rolex GMT-Master in the 1964 James Bond movie named Goldfinger.


Sheila Scott

Sheila Scott broke over 100 aviation records in her lifetime career flying airplanes. She was the first person to fly over the North Pole in a small aircraft. Sheila began as a British Actress who became an airplane pilot. 

In 1966 Sheila Scott set a world aviation record when she flew her solo flight around the world in a light aircraft. She took off from Heathrow Airport in London, England and flew eastward to become the very first person to circumvent the globe in a solo flight. Sheila had some unusual habits when she flew. For instance, she primarily flew barefoot, which she said helped her feel the airplane vibrations. 

In the photo above and below we see Sheila Scott wearing her trusted GMT-Master on her right wrist. This is pure speculation on my behalf, but I think Rolex likely perceived Shelia Scott as a modern Mercedes Gleitze, in many ways.

1963 Pan Am Flies With Rolex
GMT-Master ad

1966 Rolex GMT Master Ad
It's The Heaviest, Toughest Stainless Steel Watch In The World

King Of The Road

I don't know why, but for some reason, I seem to be fascinated with vintage magazine ads. I think it is interesting how some of them are extremely effective and some are the exact opposite.

I noticed in this one the pilot seems to be wearing a stainless steel GMT which is cool, but for some reason, I think this is a really cool ad. I think if it was 1966 and I saw this ad, it would make me want to buy this car. There is just something really cool looking about it...

...Rolex X-Files...

 The Original Rolex Sky-Dweller

The Rolex GMT-Master Concorde Ads

Let me take you on a trip around the world and back
You won't have to move, you just sit still
Let me show you the world in my eyes
-Depeche Mode

If you are a fan of Jake's Rolex World, you know I have covered a great deal of Rolex Aviation history beginning with Chuck Yeager who was the first to break the speed of sound barrier in 1947 while wearing his Rolex Oyster Perpetual.

I even covered the Rolex Moon watches I discovered and first documented from the NASA archives, which told the story of many NASA Apollo Astronauts wearing their Pepsi Rolex GMT Master watches to the Moon.

These are all stories about men wearing their GMT Master watches as real tool watches, pushing the absolute envelope of the unknown, and you won't find this history on Rolex.com or in any Rolex magazine ads–at least not yet ;-) This story is right out of the Rolex X-Files, and there is even more undocumented Rolex Aviation history coming up in the future on Jake's Rolex World...

Today, I thought I would share some fascinating images in this post with you that cover the Rolex GMT Master Concorde ads...So fasten your seat-belt and put your tray-tables in the upright position...

1969 Rolex Flying The Concorde Tomorrow
Rolex Of Canada Ad

All Six Supersonic Big Birds
Parked At London's Heathrow Airport

This has got to be one of the coolest vintage Rolex Ads I have ever seen. I remember when I was a kid, flying on the Concorde was a really, really big deal. Jetset Cool!!!! 

The Concorde was a Supersonic airplane that could cruise at Mach 2 which is faster than a speeding bullet. When British Airways started using Concorde's their slogan was "Arrive before you leave." 

The Rolex GMT ad pictured above is unusual in the sense the GMT Master has stick hands, instead of the classic GMT Master hands with the Mercedes/Peace Sign on the Hour hand.

1996 Concorde Airplane Pilot's Watch
Captain Steve Wand Rolex GMT Master

...The Truth Is Out There...

The video below explains why supersonic planes like the Concorde became obsolete.

The Fastest Man That Ever Flew

This is where things start to get really interesting. It turns out the Rolex GMT-Master would end up being the watch of choice for many U.S. Air Force and NASA test pilots as well as NASA Astronauts.

Below we see Rolex Barrier Breakers, U. S. Air Force Test-Pilot & NASA Astronaut, William J. "Pete" Knight

William J. "Pete" Knight is pictured above and below in front of his X-15 Spaceship. Notice I said Spaceship and not airplane. The X-15 looks like an airplane, but airplanes can't leave the Earth's atmosphere like an X-15 could.

The Hypersonic X-15 Experimental Spacecrafts were made by a U.S. Company named North American, and they were rocket-powered aircraft. The X-Series began with the Bell X-1 that Chuck Yeager flew in 1947, and ended up with the X-15.

In the photo below we see William J. 'Pete' Knight's special X-15a he flew into the record books when he set the all-time speed record for level flight. A record that he holds to this day. On a clear winter day, on October 3, 1967, Pete Knight's X-15a took off from Edwards Air Force Base, attached to a B-52 Bomber. He hit Mach 6.7 and returned safely to earth.

Pete Knight's special X-15a had special 'abatement' white tiles on it, as they could withstand extreme heat. These tiles famously ended up being used on the Space Shuttle many years later to protect it as it returned into the atmosphere of earth at super-high speeds. As a matter of fact, the first Space Shuttle named Columbia landed at Edwards Air-Force Base on April 12, 1981.

Pete Knight is pictured below wearing his Pepsi GMT-Master he wore when he set the all-time speed record for level flight at Mach 6.7. 

The photo above is of Pete Knights actual GMT-Master watch he wore when he flew his X-15 at Mach 6.7. 

Wally Schirra

Mercury Sigma 7

Below we see NASA Mercury Astronaut, Wally Schirra. He was the fifth Mercury Astronaut to fly, in his Sigma 7, which achieved six orbits around the earth. Wally Schirra then flew on Gemini 6A with Tom Stafford. Next, he flew on the Apollo 7 mission.

In the photo below we see Wally Schirra on April 17, 1967, testifying before a House investigative subcommittee in a probe on the fire that occurred aboard Apollo I, in which three NASA Astronauts died. Wally Schirra is pictured below in between Donald Slayton and Alan Shepard. If you look closely Wally Schirra is wearing his Pepsi GMT-Master.

Below we see a photo of Wally Schirra four decades after the photo above was taken and he is still wearing his Pepsi Rolex GMT-Master. 

Houston, We've Had A Problem! 

Rolex on Apollo 13

Below we see Apollo 13 NASA Astronaut, Jack Swigert wearing his Pepsi Rolex GMT-Master. Jack Swigert is the NASA Astronaut who famously said, "Houston, we've had a problem."

James Lovell
Apollo 8 & 13

I discovered that NASA Apollo Astronaut James Lovell, who flew on Apollo 8 and Apollo 13 wore a Pepsi GMT-Master. In December of 1968, Apollo 8 became the first manned NASA Apollo mission to leave Earth's orbit, to circle the moon, then return safely to Earth. If you look a the photo below you see Jams Lovell wearing his Pepsi GMT-Master.

The more recent photo below was taken at the Kennedy Space Center and shows James Lovell still wearing his Pepsi Rolex GMT-Master. This means he has been sporting his Rolex for close to 50 years.

Rolex on Apollo 14

All 3 NASA Apollo 14 Moon Mission astronauts wore Rolex GMT Pepsi watches. In the first two photos below you can see Alan Shepard sporting his GMT on a black strap. Alan Shepard was also one of the Original 7 Mercury Mission NASA Astronauts and he was the first American Astronaut to leave the Earth's atmosphere in a rocket.

Alan Sheppard is pictured below, wearing his Rolex GMT-Master. Alan Shepard was one of the Original 7 Mercury Astronauts, who went on to become an Apollo Astronaut.

In this next photo we see Alan Shepard (light blue shirt) and Ed Mitchell (cap) on a geology field trip, at Craters of the Moon, Idaho on August 22, 1969. Notice that Ed Mitchell is wearing his trademark Pepsi Rolex GMT on his left wrist.

In the next two images we see Apollo 14 Mission team member Dr. Edgar Mitchell preparing his two Rolex GMT Master's just before he prepares to board the Saturn Rocket to go to the Moon. Dr. Edgar Mitchell confirmed that he wore his Rolex GMT on the longest moonwalk in history.

In the Apollo 14 Launch Day video below we see Dr. Edgar Mitchell putting on his two Pepsi Rolex GMT-Master watches, and we also see Ronald Evans of Apollo 17, who served as the backup team for Apollo 17 wearing his Pepsi Rolex GMT-Master. Also, it appears Alan Sheppard is also wearing his Rolex GMT-Master during the steak and eggs breakfast before his team left for the Moon.

These images of the Apollo 14 during take-off toward the heavens are spectacular. Click on them to see all the glorious detail!!!

Alan Shepard on the Moon above.

This next NASA photo is of the NASA Apollo 14 Lunar Module parked on the Moon surface which delivered Dr. Edgar Mitchell and Alan Shepard to the moon surface and returned them to the Service Module.

Apollo 14
Lunar Module Moon Lift-Off
February 6, 1971 18:48:42 UT
Lunar Module Pilot: Dr. Edgar Mitchell
Rolex GMT-Master

The following three photos show Dr. Edgar Mitchell and Alan Shepard as they take-off from the Moon surface to return to the Apollo 14 Command/Service Module in the Grumman-made Lunar Lander module named "Antares." During their moonwalk, Dr. Edgar Mitchell set the all-time record for the longest moonwalk at 9 hours and 17 minutes.

In this first image, we see Alan Shepard putting on his oxygen mask and if you study his facial expression you see a bit of trepidation. After all, he has just experienced the most euphoric experience of his life and he is likely exhausted physically and mentally–kind of like the way you feel after a full-day of great skiing or snowboarding. He likely realizes if the Lunar Lander does not take-off, they would be stranded on the moon and die. 

In the next photo, we see Dr. Edgar Mitchell as he prepares the 33,000 pound (15,264kg) Lunar Module (LM) for takeoff–since he was the Lunar Module pilot. We see Dr. Edgar Mitchell wearing his Pepsi GMT Master on his right wrist and we get a clear view of his Rolex Oyster bracelet. He is wearing an Omega Speedmaster Chronograph on a velcro NASA Spec Black Nylon Strap on his left wrist.

In the past, Dr. Edgar Mitchell recalled that he wore his Pepsi Rolex GMT Master on the moonwalk, but there has never been any photographic proof to confirm this fact–until today!!!!

This next photo shows Dr. Edgar Mitchell and Alan Shepard very enthusiastically shaking hands in a euphoric and jubilant moment of exultation as they successfully take-off in the Lunar Module to return to the Service Module from the moon surface!!!!

Pictured below is Stuart Roosa (left), Al Shepard (center) and Ed Mitchell (right) in the mobile quarantine van. Roosa is using a microphone to talk to bystanders on February 9, 1971. Ed Mitchell is wearing his Rolex GMT on his right wrist in both the photo above and below.

In the photo below we see Dr. Edgar Mitchell clearly wearing his Rolex GMT Master. 

Ed Mitchell is pictured below during a 15-day quarantine in the MSC Lunar Receiving Laboratory at the Lyndon Johnson Space Center in Houston Texas, holding a sample collection as he shows them to NASA management during a post-mission debrief with geologists on February 18, 1971. Ed is wearing his trademark Stainless Steel Pepsi Rolex GMT Master. This directly confirms that he wore his Rolex GMT Pepsi to the moon and back.

The two photos below show NASA Apollo 14 Astronaut, Stuart Roosa wearing Rolex watches. In the top photo we see what is clearly a Jubilee bracelet, and in the photo below it, we see him wearing his Rolex GMT-Master.

Rolex on Apollo 17

I was the first historian to document the fact Ronald Evans wore his GMT which I found in this photo in the NASA archives and published many years ago. Ronald Evans was on the backup crew for Apollo 14 and you see him in the photo below on the far right wearing his Pepsi Rolex GMT Master which is for sale in the Heritage Auction Galleries sale on October 8, 2009. In this photo, we see the Apollo 14 crew during their Steak and Eggs breakfast before they take off for the moon.

In the Steak and Eggs breakfast photo above taken on January 31, 1971, we see Dr. Edgar Mitchell located on the far left. An hour or so later we see him in the picture below as he prepares to board the Apollo 14 Mission to go to the Moon. Notice he is setting the time on his two Pepsi Rolex GMT Master watches.

In the photo below we see the Prime Crew of Apollo 17 posing in front of the Saturn Rocket that would soon take them safely to the Moon and back. We see Eugene Cernan sitting on the lunar probe with Harrison Schmitt pictured next to Ronald Evans.

This is an extremely profound story that ads another huge piece of the puzzle to the Rolex Moon Watch Mystery. Before we go in to the details of this mystery let's examine this historic Rolex Moon Watch. 

It was worn by United States NASA Apollo Commander Ronald Evans on Apollo 17 which was the last manned Moon Mission. Commander Ronald "Ron" Evans is pictured below in his official NASA Apollo 17 portrait standing in front of a Moon Globe. 

Ronald Ellwin Evans Jr. was born on November 10, 1933, and passed away on April 7, 1990. He achieved the Boy Scouts Of America's second highest rank of Life Scout. and received a Bachelor Of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Kansas in 1956. In 1964 he earned a Master Of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School.

Evans went on to become a U.S. Navy pilot flying an F-8 Crusader aircraft from the very USS Ticonderoga that would pick him up from splashdown in the Pacific after his successful Apollo 17 Moon Mission.

Commander Evans retired from the U.S. Navy as a Captain and was one of the only 24 people to ever fly to the Moon. 

In the close-up Photo below we see NASA Apollo 17 Astronaut Commander Ronald Evans 1968 Pepsi Rolex GMT Master [Reference 1675, Caliber 1580, Serial Number 2448718] that spent time on the lunar surface.

This major piece of the Rolex Moon Watch history puzzle answers many questions and at the same time brings to light more fascinating questions. 

As we see evidenced in the photo below when Commander Evans returned from the Moon he proudly hand-engraved the provenance on the back of this Pepsi Rolex GMT Master. He inscribed "FLOWN ON APOLLO XVII 6-19 DEC 72 ON MOON 11-17 DEC RON EVANS." Apparently, Commander Evans hand engraved this without removing the Rolex Oyster bracelet.

Part of the provenance includes this letter from Jan Evans (Commander Evans wife) that documents the Rolex was worn to the moons lunar surface and that is has been in the family collection all these years.

The Last Man On The Moon

Apollo 17 Mission Commander Eugene A. Cernan is pictured below in his official NASA Apollo 17 portrait. Unfortunately, Gene passed away last month :-( Eugene Cernan flew in the Gemini IX mission as well as on Apollo 10 and as part of Apollo 17 would be the last man to walk on the Moon.

This next image of Eugene "Gene" Andrew Cernan is very interesting because he is wearing a Pepsi Rolex GMT Master on the outside of his space suit on a velcro strap!?! This photo just ads to the Rolex Moon Watch Mystery because the obvious question is if Omega was the official watch of NASA then what is an Apollo astronaut doing wearing a Rolex on the outside of his space suit!?!

The Most Prolific Modern Artist In History

Pablo Picasso

Stainless Steel Rolex GMT Master
[Reference 1675]

Pablo Picasso is pictured below wearing an American Indian headdress while sporting his stainless steel Rolex GMT Master–in his later years in the 1960s. The supreme irony behind Pablo Picasso wearing a Rolex GMT Master is that in the 1960s his art had been completely whacked-out and anti-symmetrical for many, many decades, yet he wore a Rolex which was completely symmetrical and perfectly balanced.


Robert Culp & Bill Cosby 

Rolex GMT-Master

I Spy was a landmark TV show that debuted in 1965 which starred Robert Culp & Bill Cosby, who were both spies that worked for the Pentagon, and both of them wore Pepsi Rolex GMT-Master watches as seen below.

John McVie

Stainless Steel Rolex GMT-Master

John McVie was a founding member of Fleetwood Mac, as the Bass Player, and in this very groovy photo, we see him wearing his Pepsi Rolex GMT-Master.

Christine Anne Perfect is pictured below with John McVie, whom she married in 1970, a year after she joined Fleetwood Mac as their first female singer. Christine McVie would go on to write many of Fleetwood Mac's famous hits.

John McVie is pictured below in 1967, just before joining Fleetwood Mac and he is wearing his Rolex GMT-Master. This photo was taken before he joined Fleetwood Mac, and at the time he was in a band named John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers.

John McVie is pictured below, again in 1967 holding his Rolex GMT-Master in his hand.

John McVie was one of the founding members of Fleetwood Mac and he is pictured below on the far left, standing next to Mic Fleetwood. Notice John is still wearing his Rolex GMT-Master.

Marlon Brando 
From Godfather to Superman

Marlon Brando is considered by many people to be the greatest actor that ever lived. Marlon Brando is definitely one of the most famous people who wore a Rolex GMT-Master. Marlon Brando wore a Rolex GMT-Master from 1975 until he passed away in 2004, but from my research, I discovered he began wearing Rolex watches in 1943.

The Godfather (1972)
Don Vito Corleone

Marlon Brando starred in The Godfather in 1972, which is considered to be on of the best films of all time.

The first two photos below show Marlon Brando in 1975 wearing his Coke Rolex GMT-Master. The first photo below shows Marlon Brando with famous Rock and Roll promoter Bill Graham.

Marlon Brando wore a Rolex GMT-Master in 1979 when he starred in Francis Ford Coppola's movie titled "Apocalypse Now." The unusual mystery about his Rolex GMT-Master is that it is missing the bezel and bezel insert. 

Bill Wyman

The Rolling Stones 

Bill Wyman was a founding member of The Rolling Stones, and he is pictured below wearing his stainless steel and yellow gold two-tone Rolex GMT-Master in 1975.

John Paul Jones

John Paul Jones was the bass player for the mega-successful rock band, Led Zeppelin and he is pictured below, chillin' backstage with Jimmy Page in 1977, and John Paul is wearing his Rolex GMT Master.

John Paul Jones is pictured below in 1985 wearing his two-tone Rolex GMT-Master.

In the recent photo of John Paul Jones see below, we see him still rockin' his vintage two-tone Rolex GMT-Master.

Jimmy Buffet
The Man from Margaritaville

Jimmy Buffett is best known for his song, Margaritaville which was a mega-hit in 1977. 

Jimmy Buffett's music is known as "Island Escapism", which is a form of country folk music, coupled with pop music, with tropical themes running through his lyrics. This form of music is also known as Gulf & Western. We see Jimmy Buffet pictured above and below forty years ago, in 1977 wearing his Rolex GMT Master. I could not help but notice the anchor Jimmy Buffet is wearing around his neck in the photo above and below look a lot like the one that comes in the box with the Rolex Submariner.

Jimmy Buffett 1977

In the recent picture below of Jimmy Buffett, we see him wearing a modern stainless steel Rolex GMT-Master.

1979 Rolex GMT-Master Ad

Tom Sheppard Sahara Crossing Expedition

Stan Barrett
The World's First Supersonic Driver
Wearing A Special Paul Newman GMT-MASTER

Stan Barrett is a profoundly paradoxical man. On the one hand, he is a deeply religious gentleman, who never uses profanity. On the other hand, he is bold and has achieved some of the most amazing achievements you can imagine. He was best friends with Paul Newman, who gave him the GMT-Master and Rolex Daytona you see him wearing in the photo below.

Stan Barrett is perhaps most famous for being the first man to break the speed of sound barrier on land, which he achieved in the Budweiser Rocket Car in 1979 @ Edwards Air Force Base.

To a large extent, Stan Barrett represented the tail-end of the Right Stuff, and we see him in a recent photo still proudly wearing the GMT-Master his best pal, Paul Newman gave him. In my mind, Stan Barrett is the living personification of the GMT-Master. He is worldly, classic, timeless, and bold...

Thor Heyerdahl
1980 Rolex Pepsi GMT Ad
[Reference 1675]

1980 Rolex GMT Master Brochure
Pan American International Airways

Rolex originally developed the Rolex GMT Master in 1955 for Pan American International Airways, and from that point forward, they developed a strong strategic partnership, where Rolex prominently and proudly used Pan Am in their marketing collateral material.

General William Seawell
1981 Pan Am CEO Magazine Ad
[Mocha GMT Master]

Remember there was that whole thing about how when Rolex developed the GMT Master for Pan Am pilots that the executives got jealous so Rolex made the now extremely rare white dialed versions? It is just kind of ironic and neat that the CEO of Pan Am sports a yellow-gold Mocha GMT.

Ralph Lauren
Pepsi GMT-Master

New York Designer, Ralph Lauren is pictured below in the early 1980s wearing his GMT-Master.

Clint Eastwood
1981 Two-Tone Root-Beer Rolex GMT Master
[Jubilee Bracelet: Reference 1675]

This photo of Clint Eastwood was taken at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center in April of 1981 and we see Clint in front of the very first Space Shuttle, Columbia just after it completed its first orbital flight.

This photo of Clint Eastwood pictured below was from the 1993 movie he stared in named "In The Line Of Fire."

Rolex Root Beer GMT Master

1982 Rolex Ad

Magnum P.I.
Pepsi GMT-Master

At the beginning of this story, I mentioned how iconic the Rolex GMT-Master is. That being said, probably the most iconic celebrity in history to wear a Rolex GMT-Master is Tom Selleck, who wore a Pepsi Rolex GMT Master on his 1980s hit TV show, Magnum PI, and you can learn much more about Tom Selleck's life with wearing Rolex on Jake's Rolex World. 

Tom Selleck
As Jesse Stone

The photo above is of Tom Selleck playing Magnum P.I. which began in 1980. The photo below shows Tom Selleck decades later still wearing his Pepsi Rolex GMT-Master.

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Root Beer GMT-Master

Also, in the early eighties, bodybuilding champion Arnold Schwarzenegger wore his yellow gold Rolex GMT-Master on a matching yellow gold Jubilee Bracelet as seen below.

Placido Domingo

An Amazing Career with Rolex Keeping The Time Of His Life

Placido Domingo has been a Rolex Ambassador for four decades, and in the three following Rolex magazine ads, we see him being advertising different yellow gold Rolex GMT-Master Models.

1983 Vintage Rolex Ad
Mocha GMT Master

1984 Vintage Rolex Ad
Mocha GMT Master

It is profound to think this vintage Rolex ad was published more than a quarter-century ago!?!

This was such a great color combo on the Rolex GMT Master. I think Rolex Should bring back the brown bezel and dial on the Yellow Gold GMT Master.

1995 Vintage Rolex Ad
Yellow Gold GMT-Master

Hunter S. Thompson


Hunter S. Thompson was a profound writer, and among other things, he wrote Fear & Loathing In Los Vegas. He is pictured below in 1983 sporting his Pepsi GMT-Master.

In the photo below we see Hunter S. Thompson wearing two Rolex GMT-Master models. One is a Coke, and the other a Root Beer.

Sir Jackie Stewart
Pepsi GMT-Master

Jackie Stewart is pictured below with fellow race-car driver and Rolex Daytona wearer, Paul Newman. The photo was taken at Riverside Raceway in California. Riverside Raceway is where Paul Newman Filmed Winning in 1969. In 1988 Riverside International Raceway was converted to Riverside Mall.

Elle Macpherson

In the photo below we see Elle Macpherson early in her modeling career, wearing a Rolex GMT-Master on her wrist as she pets a dolphin.

Steger International Polar Expedition
1986 Rolex GMT Master II Ad

1988 Rolex GMT Ad
Eagles Aerobatic Flight Team

Academy Award Winning Actor & Director

...Rolex Coolness...

Mel Gibson
Air America Movie (1990)
Pepsi Rolex GMT-Master 

1991 Jeff MacInnis Rolex GMT Ad
[Coke GMT on a Jubilee Bracelet]

1997 Chuck Yeager Pepsi Rolex GMT Ad

1998 Jackie Stewart Ad

Below we see a 1998 Jackie Stewart Rolex GMT-Master ad. Jackie Stewart is a Rolex brand Ambassador and racing legend.

NASA Astronaut Leroy Chiao

Pepsi Rolex GMT Master In Space

Rolex In Space

Dr. Leroy Chiao is one of the most experienced and accomplished NASA Astronauts alive today. He flew on three Space Shuttles as the Science Officer and was the Commander of The International Space Station onboard Expedition 10. I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Leroy Chiao back in July of 2008 about his amazing career achievements:

Leroy Chiao was onboard Space Shuttle STS-65 Columbia (July8-July 23, 1994) which was launched from and landed back at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which set a new flight duration record.

Leroy also flew onboard Space Shuttle STS-72 Endeavor (January 11-January 20, 1996) which flew a nine-day mission to retrieve the Space Flyer Unit launched from Japan ten months earlier. Chiao executed two spacewalks designed to experiment procedures for the assembly of the International Space Station.

Next Leroy Chiao, flew on Space Shuttle STS-92 Discovery (October 11-October 24, 2000) which launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida and landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California. 

Leroy Chiao was the Commander of Expedition 10 on the International Space Station (ISS) which launched October 9, 2004, and returned April 24, 2005.

Rolex On The Space Shuttle

Commander Chiao is pictured below as he prepares for take-off on the Russian Soyuz Rocket to go the International Space Station.

Of course, Commander Chiao is sporting his Rolex GMT Master II with the Pepsi bezel and the Jubilee Bracelet in Stainless Steel. You can see it peeking out of launch suit in the photo below.

The photo below is of Commander Chiao during EVA (Extra Vehicle Activity) on a Spacewalk outside the International Space Station. Those are solar panels between him and Earth.

Commander Chiao is working out on the International Space Station as pictured below.

Another close-up shot wrist shot of Commander Chiao's GMT Pepsi in Stainless Steel with the Jubilee Bracelet. A very cool watch indeed!!! Dr. Chiao has owned and depended on his GMT for almost 20 years now. He wore his beautiful and trusted GMT on 3 Space Shuttle missions and on the International Space Station.

Commander Chiao is pictured below floating around in the zero-gravity environment of the International Space Station.

Another cool wrist shot of Commander Chiao's Rolex GMT Pepsi as he is conducting scientific research on board the International Space Station.

During my podcast interview with Leroy Chiao, he mentioned he recalled seeing a Rolex on an episode of Star Trek, with a character named Cary Seven, and he also mentioned there were many great NASA shots taken at Cape Canaveral.

Yesterday, I put up the story about the new Star Trek movie coming at Christmas time which takes place when Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock were younger than in the original Star Trek TV show. It looks from the movie trailer like it might just be a superb movie. This got me thinking about how Dr. Chiao mentioned the Star Trek episode with the Rolex, so I did the research and found it.

The Star Trek episode named Assignment Earth is number 55, and it was the last show from the second season in 1968 which originally aired March 29, 1968 (Season 2, Episode 26). It was also a television pilot for a Star Trek spin-off show Gene Roddenberry hoped to launch based on this really cool new character named Gary Seven. I watched the entire episode and really enjoyed it.

I will do my best to walk you through the Star Trek episode and show you the Rolex GMT that NASA astronaut, Dr. Leroy Chiao discovered.

Assignment Earth [Star Trek. Episode #55, 1968]

Episode #55 begins with the Starship Enterprise traveling through the time-space continuum back to 1968 to conduct a mission as part of an earth history research program. All of a sudden, a man who is trying to beam to earth gets beamed onto the Enterprise transport station by mistake. His introduces himself to Captian Kirk as Gary Seven (played by actor Robert Lansing, who looked a lot like Steve McQueen).

Gary Seven's human ancestors were abducted from Earth around 4000BC and taken to an invisible cloaked planet named System Zeta Gamma 357. Gary comes back to Earth in 1968 on a mission to try and save Earth from nuclear destruction. 

Gary Seven travels with his companion pussycat named Isis and as you can see in the photo below when Captain Kirk first encounters Gary Seven in the transport room, Gary Seven is wearing a Rolex GMT Master Pepsi.

Gary 7 tells Kirk he is from an invisible planet and he has come to Earth to save it from a nuclear holocaust. Kirk does not know what to do so he puts Gary Seven in a holding cell.

Gary Seven is upset because he is on a time-critical mission to save Earth and he does not want to waste time in confinement so he pulls out a pen weapon and uses it to escape, and this is when we get the best close-up shots of his Rolex GMT Master with the Pepsi bezel.

I think Leroy thought Gary Seven was wearing a Rolex Submariner, but it turns out he was wearing a Rolex GMT Master. I was able to discern this from the screen capture as seen below. Ironically this is the same Rolex model that NASA astronaut, Leroy Chiao wears, with the same Pepsi bezel.

After successfully escaping his confinement, Gary Seven goes back to the transporter room and beams down to earth. Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock decide they must follow him down to earth so the put on time-specific costumes and try to find Gary Seven.

They chase Gary Seven around New York City, and then they all end up at NASA's Cape Canaveral, in Florida, where an Apollo rocket is being launched with a test nuclear warhead on it. Gary Seven sneaks onto the launch-pad and manipulates the Saturn rocket.

I won't ruin the ending for you in case you wish to watch it yourself, but like all Star Trek episodes, everything works out in the end. Gary Seven's secretary, Ms. Roberta Lincoln was played by the young Teri Garr. The Gary Seven pilot was never picked up, which is a shame, but my best guess is that Gary Seven would have been like a James Bond agent, but from a different planet.

Keanu Reeves 
Rolex GMT Master Coke
From Street Kings

Brad Pitt

Ocean's 13

Brad Pitt is a big Rolex wearer and he famously wore a yellow gold Rolex GMT-Master in the 2007 movie "Ocean's 13."

Eric Clapton

Stainless Steel Rolex GMT Master

Eric Clapton is pictured below wearing his Supercase 50th Anniversary GMT-Master on an Oyster bracelet. Eric Clapton is a huge Rolex fan, and has worn many different Rolex watches in his career. The Supercase GMT was introduced by Rolex in 2005, and it differs significantly from its predecessor in that it was updated with the larger more square Rolex Oyster case, coupled with Maxi Markers and a ceramic bezel insert. Rolex also gave it a green 24 hour hand to celebrate the models 50th anniversary.

2009 SuperCase Rolex GMT Master II Ad
Yellow Gold with Ceramic Bezel Insert

Real Pilots Wear Rolex GMT-Master Watches

Many top-notch airplane pilots around the world wear and depend on their Rolex GMT-Master watches as the ultimate tool watch for flying. Over the years many pilots have written in and included photos of their beloved Rolex GMT-Master watches and below are a few of their photos. 

Private Jet Pilot Flying To Hangzhou, China
[Two-Tone Ceramic GMT-Master]

Back in 2010, Jetdriver (Larry) took this great wrist shot of his two-tone supercase GMT Master with the ceramic bezel insert and maxi markers as he is preparing to land the Challenger 601 private airplane in Hangzhou, China.

The Challenger 601 aircraft is pictured below and it is usually equipped as a long-distance executive jet. Hangzhou, China, by the way, is located in the middle of the east coast of China and it is on the Yangtze River Delta. It is located 112 miles (180KM) southwest of Shanghai.

Here is a cockpit photo of the Challenger 601 which is almost identical to the one in the wrist shot.

A Pilot's Rolex GMT-Master
Supercase Ceramic with Black Bezel

Kaan Özturhan is an airline pilot from Istanbul, Turkey and he is also a fan of Jake's Rolex World. Kaan sent in this superb photo of his Rolex GMT-Master he is wearing while piloting his airplane.

Rolex Waypoints

Phil is an Airplane Pilot and he sent in the fascinating photo of his Pepsi Rolex GMT-Master with this fascinating message:

Hi Jake,

Pilots navigate through the air using 'waypoints': intersections of Latitude and Longitude that are given 5-letter names, which make them much easier to work with than using Lat/Long coordinates.

There are two waypoints called ROLEX: one in South East Asia, the other just to the north of England.

This photo was taken between Japan and Australia, in the flight deck of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.



Rolex made the Pepsi Rolex GMT-Master from 1955 until they surprised the world by discontinuing it, along with the Coke GMT-Master 2005. In 2005 Rolex introduced the 50th-anniversary GMT-Master which had a supercase with maxi-markers and a black ceramic bezel. This 50th-anniversary model had an unusual green 24 hour hand, along with a green GMT-MASTER dial designation as seen below.

Yellow Gold Rolex GMT Master II
50th Anniversary Celebration Model with Green Dial
Reference 116718LN

I have been publishing Jake's Rolex World for almost 10 years now, and in that time my banner has never changed. If you ever wondered what the watch on the right-hand side of my banner is a yellow gold Rolex GMT Master II as seen below.

Rolex introduced this stunning beauty twelve years ago in 2005 on the 50th anniversary of the GMT model, and they gave it an unusual forest green dial. Over the years I have seen this watch in person and it is a truly magnificent looking Rolex watch. The watch is just striking in person and the forest green dial for some reason kind of reminds me of a pool table. Examining the up-close macro dial shot of this beauty really allows you appreciate how elegant, precise and timeless Rolex design language is...just stunning!!!

Rolex never made the new model with a classic red and blue "Pepsi" bezel insert, which surprised everyone including me. Rolex claimed they were having extreme difficulty making a red and blue ceramic bezel, and I remember at the time arguing they should make the watch with a classic anodized red and blue bezel which would also look great. 

Below is a photo of golf legend and Rolex ambassador, Arnold Palmer wearing a supercase GMT-Master.


Rolex GMT-Master

Rolex surprised the world at BaselWorld in 2013 when they introduced an all-new Rolex GMT-Master color combination, "Night & Day" Ceramic bezel that was black and blue. One of the reasons this was so shocking is that in the prior 57 years, Rolex had ONLY ever made the stainless steel Rolex GMT-Master with a Pepsi (Red & Blue), Coke (Red & Black), and an Espresso (All Black) bezel. The Black and Blue bezel was an instant hit at BaselWorld.

Rolex collectors and enthusiasts love to use nicknames for different Rolex models, like The Pepsi, or Coke GMT-Master or the 7up Submariner for the original LV Submariner. The all Green LV Submariner is nicknamed The Hulk, and Rolex collectors have affectionally nicknamed the new Night & Day Rolex GMT-Master as "The Batman" since it is silver, black and blue like Batman's uniform. Very cool!

At BaselWorld 2014 in Switzerland, Rolex reintroduced the "Pepsi" GMT-Master, but only in a white gold model. 

When asked why they did not offer an updated Rolex stainless steel GMT-Master with the classic iconic red and blue bezel insert Rolex said because it was way too expensive to produce because of the color combination. 

Rolex even suggested the new red and blue bezel insert cost more to make than an entire GMT-Master watch. Perhaps in the future Rolex will surprise the world by letting us know they found a way to bring back the red and blue bezel to the stainless steel model, but in the meantime, Rolex still offers it in white gold as seen above.

Sylvester Stallone

Sly & The Rolex Family Stones

Back in February, I posted a major update on my Sylvester Stallone wearing Rolex story. Recently Sylvester Stallone posted a photo of himself with fellow actor Dolph Lundgren on his OfficialSlyStallone Instagram page. Sly said, "Ran into Dolph Lundgren at lunch. And no, we did not fight over the check or have a rematch!" 

In case you were not aware, Dolph Lundgren is a Swedish actor and martial artist who starred in Rocky IV in 1985, as the imposing Russian Boxer Ivan Drago. In the photo below we see Sylvester Stallone sporting his white gold "Pepsi GMT-Master, which looks so cool...and we see Dolph Lundgren sporing his Bronzo Lminor Panerai. Dolph also starred alongside Stallone in The Expendibles (2010), Expendables 2 (2013), and Expendables 3 in 2014. 

Pictured below is the same Pepsi Rolex Sylvester Stallone is wearing in the photo above. It is a Rolex 116759SARU. Basically, it is a white gold GMT-Master with a bejeweled bezel that has Blue Sapphires, Red Rubbies and diamonds. As you can see in the photo above of Sylvester Stallone, from a distance it looks like a classic Pepsi GMT-Master until you get up close and notice all the precious stones glimmering in the light.

Below we see the same Rolex Masterpiece watch in yellow gold.  I remember when I visited Rolex in Switzerland touring the gem setting department, which completely blew my mind. The level of precision, quality of stones and workmanship that goes into these Rolex Masterpiece watches is amazing.


The photo below is probably my absolute favorite picture of a GMT-Master. It was taken my Amanico, and features his classic vintage Pepsi Rolex GMT-Master [Reference 1675]. The Pepsi GMT-Master, in my mind, is the most iconic and classically sporty GMT model. I still believe that Rolex should bring back the Pepsi bezel on the stainless steel GMT-Master, and since it is so expensive to make in ceramic, I think they should offer it in anodized aluminum which would give it a great vintage vibe. Who knows, with BaselWorld around the corner, they might surprise us!?!!

The superb lume shot below was taken by Michael and shows a vintage Rolex "Espresso" GMT-Master Reference 1675.  It is so weird interesting to compare and contrast the "Pepsi" GMT-Master with the "Espresso", as they look quite different. The Pepsi looks very sporty and American, with almost an Evil Knievel Jumpsuit kind of look, and the all black Espresso looks more serious while looking very much like a Submariner. I remember T. Walker Lloyd telling me years ago that pilots would complain about the Pepsi because they said it looked like a toy or jokey-jokey. This is ironic, as I never thought about it that way. I always thought the Pepsi looked super-sporty and cool...

Chung Lee took this superb photo below of a model sporting her Rolex GMT-Master...