Gold Rolex sports watches are different things to different people, to put it mildly. For some of us they are as a red cape to a bull (bulls are by the way actually color-blind to red, but I say, never let the facts get in the way of a good cliché). On this viewpoint, the whole idea that a watch originally intended to serve a specific and practical purpose – telling the time in different time zones, tracking dive or decompression time for divers, or what have you – should trick itself out in gaudy precious metals and sashay down the boulevard looking for attention, is anathema. However for some of the rest of us, it’s good clean fun and why not dress up the practical with the luxurious a bit? For those cheery, devil-may-care sports, we have this year’s new Rolex GMT Master II, in go-to-hell Everose.
To put things a bit in perspective, it’s undoubtedly completely true that the Rolex GMT Master – both the original reference 6542 and all subsequent models – are purpose-built tool watches intended to be legible instantly, and to track and transmit useful information reliably. However, it’s also true that the GMT Master has from the outset been available in gold if you wanted it to be – yellow gold versions of the 6542 “Pussy Galore” are very rare but they do exist (one was offered at Sotheby’s in 2013; it hammered for $125,000 on a high estimate of $120,000). Possibly the distinction between “tool watch” and “luxury watch” was perhaps not quite so hard and fast in 1954 (though in 1955 a steel GMT Master was $240, and a Tourneau ad from the same period advertises a gold GMT Master “with alligator band” at $600, so there was certainly still a relative premium).
Interestingly enough, the Submariner wasn’t made in gold until quite some time after its introduction – the first Submariner offered in gold was the reference 1680, which came out in 1969. It’s possible that a gold GMT Master made a bit more sense initially, with its jet-setter image but in any case, both models have been around in gold for many decades, so from a historical precedent perspective, gold Rolex “tool watches” are perfectly respectable and just as authentic as steel models.
This is, however, the first year that the Rolex GMT Master II has been offered in Everose, which is Rolex’s proprietary formulation of rose gold. Rose gold is a mixture of yellow gold and copper (and occasionally some silver, depending on the alloy). Under some circumstances rose gold is susceptible to fading – chlorinated pool water is an often-cited culprit – and Everose, which Rolex introduced in 2005, includes a small amount of platinum. The Rolex patent from 2005 for “Discoloration-Resistant Timepiece Or Jewelry Part” gives a platinum content of 1.5% to 3%, and cites the tendency of gold alloys to discolor in the presence of “slightly aggressive aqueous media,” such as “tap water, sea water, swimming pool water, salt water, or even soapy water.” (I find the dry pedantry of patent documents hysterically funny sometimes; there is something hilarious about “slightly aggressive aqueous media.” Possibly I have been writing about watches too long.)
Essentially, the addition of platinum tends to discourage copper from dissolving out of the surface layer of alloy, in the presence of mild corrosives (including chlorinated pool and hot tub water, and seawater) as well as discouraging the formation of surface corrosion products that can cause discoloration (sulphides, oxides, and other compounds).
The design of the new Everose GMT Master II is also reminiscent of the so-called “root beer” GMT Masters, which were first produced in the reference 16753, and which have a very distinctive brown and cream colored dial. These are also known to Rolex fans as the “Clint Eastwood” GMT Master, thanks to his fondness for the model (which he wore in a number of films in which he portrayed a variety of characters).
The Everose GMT Master II is not a direct copy-paste of the 16753 but it’s got a very similar vibe (perhaps even more in two-tone Rolesor) and in rose gold, it’s an extremely eye-catching watch. I actually find this version a bit less overtly declarative of admirable personal net worth than yellow gold Rolex sports watches – rose gold in general gives (to my eye anyway) slightly sharper visual definition of case geometry, which seems to offset the general richness of all that gold the way a squeeze of lemon cuts the richness of a butter sauce.
In fact, and again, despite all that gold, this comes across as a much more technical watch in the metal than I’d have thought possible for a massive, precious metal Rolex. Now it’s true, as Rolex says in its own presentation of the watch, that “its combination of … functionality and rugged good looks has attracted a wider travelling public” than the original professional pilots at Pan Am for whom the GMT Master was originally designed. It’s also true that the latest versions of the GMT Master are, irrespective of case metal, as qualitatively impeccable and technically solid as anything else from Rolex. It’s worth noting that this model updates the movement from the Rolex caliber 3186 (48 hour power reserve, COSC, ±2 sec/day) to the caliber 3285, with Rolex’s high efficiency Chronergy escapement (also COSC certified and controlled to ±2 sec/day, but with a 70 hour power reserve).
This, I suspect, is a version of the GMT Master II that “the wider travelling public” is going to enjoy quite a bit, and that it won’t start to lose its ruddy allure in the pool, the ocean, or in the hot tub is icing on the cake. The great thing about Rolex’s more luxurious watches and the thing that saves them from being mere exercises in conspicuous consumption is really how well they’re made – lord knows, the Rainbow Daytona (also in Everose) is a polarizing watch but in person you notice the sheer high quality of its construction at least as much as its gem-set opulence (which given the amount of opulence on display in that watch is saying something). If you’re interested in full specs and pricing, hop over to our Introducing story on ref. 126715 CHNR right here, and also, of course, you can get better acquainted with this red-headed siren at fashionreviewprice.com