Rolex GMT-Master II vs. Rolex Submariner

Rolex fans may have a hard time deciding between the GMT-Master II and the Submariner because they basically look the same. Even the price difference isn’t that big, which makes things even more confusing.

If you can’t decide which watch to buy, here’s a comparison of the two models that will help you identify which timepiece is better suited to your needs and lifestyle.

The Rolex Submariner

The first Submariner model was released to the public way back in 1989. It was discontinued and was replaced with the 116610 model which has modern features and updated components, including a ceramic bezel.

The Submariner is known to be a true blue diver’s watch. It became incredibly popular when different Submariner models were seen worn by the iconic James Bond in several of the film’s installments. 

Pros:

  • Available in different dial colors
  • Date is easily visible, and the time is easy to read
  • Superb lume brightness
  • High water-resistance rating
  • Solid and durable build

Cons:

  • It’s thick and heavy
  • You’re stuck with a utilitarian design
  • The watch’s design is quite common and has a lot of imitations

The Rolex GMT-Master II

In the 1940s and 1950s, pilots began to fly over longer distances. Long-haul flights enabled people to cross different time zones, thus appeared the need for a watch that can keep track of two different time zones simultaneously. Rolex, in collaboration with Pan Am Airways, created the first GMT-Master – a timepiece with a fourth hand designed to track another time zone with a 24-hour scale.

The GMT-Master was already a popular model since its release. But the appearance of the “Pepsi” GMT-Master II made the model even more prominent and sought-after in the watch community.

Pros:

  • Has more variety of dial and bezel colors compared to the Submariner
  • Date is easily visible, and the time is easy to read
  • Superb lume brightness
  • Second time zone works as expected

Cons:

  • It’s thick and heavy
  • You’d expect a greater water resistance rating for its price
  • Overall design might be too loud for some users

Head-to-Head: GMT-Master II vs. Submariner

Here’s a comparison between the two famous Rolex models.

Case

The Submariner and the GMT-Master II both have 40mm cases. The body of the GMT-Master II is made of 904L stainless steel instead of the usual 316L seen in most Rolex bodies. The Submariner which used to have the 316L body was re-released a year after the GMT-Master II with an upgraded 904L case material.

Both watches use a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal to protect the dial components.

Crown

Both feature the Triplock screw-down system that gives the watch a high underwater rating.

Bezel

Both models have a Cerachrom bezel insert and feature coin-edge designs. The Submariner rotates in a unidirectional fashion while the GMT-Master II can be moved bidirectionally. 

The biggest difference between them is the Arabic numeral markers on the bezel. The Submariner has the usual diver’s minute markers in 5-minute increments, while the GMT-Master II has 24-hour markers in 2-hour increments. Both models are available in a variety of bezel colors.

Dial

The GMT-Master and the Submariner both have luminescent index hour markers. The hand styles are also similar, featuring the signature Mercedes-tip hour hand.

Both models also have a Cyclops date window at the 3 o’clock position for better visibility. The Submariner is available in a variant without a date window.

The main difference is the extra GMT hand on the GMT-Master II. This hand also has a luminous tip to make it easier for you to see the additional time setting the watch provides. It can be configured without interfering with the local time function.

Movement

The Submariner houses a Rolex Calibre 3135 automatic movement with a 50-hour power reserve. The GMT-Master II, on the other hand, has a Rolex Calibre 3186 automatic movement which also features a 50-hour power reserve.

Strap

The GMT-Master II and the Submariner both have stainless steel bands. They also have the signature Oysterlock clasp but with slight differences from each other.

The Submariner has a Glidelock extension system while the GMT has the basic Oysterlock clasp with an Easylink extension system for improved comfortability and more precise adjustments.

Water Resistance

Even though both models feature the same crown system, the GMT-Master II is rated only at 100-meter water resistance. The Submariner, on the other hand, is a true diver’s watch with a 300-meter water resistance rating.

Price

The GMT-Master II is priced around $12,500. The Submariner, on the other hand, is a bit cheaper at $12,000.

Conclusion

Although the Submariner and the GMT-Master II have several similarities, the models are designed for different purposes. The Submariner is built for divers, while the GMT-Master II is geared more toward the traveling person who needs to keep track of time on two locations. 

Neither is better than the other. The only 100% sure thing here is that these two are worth adding to your collection because of their design, durability, and overall build. The choice all comes down to which function will be more useful in your daily activities.

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