By disrupting the balance between intended use and, yes, free will, Rolex’s new GMT-Master II does more than break with tradition. That is because if you’re a lefty (like I am), then it can, literally and figuratively, open up a new world of how to wear your watch.
Growing up lefty was kind of tough. I returned home from primary school each day with the edge of my hand and forearm (and Timex watch strap) coated in graphite from the horse leg-sized pencils we were issued.
To this day, I am atrocious with pair of scissors (and, oddly, even worse with so-called “left-handed” scissors). I had to hunt for special baseball mitts, nor could I use my family’s hand-me-down righty golf clubs. I know, poor me.
That’s why, when Rolex introduced the Rolex GMT-Master II at Watches & Wonders in Geneva this year, I instantly spotted the down-played special feature and was instantly excited. This Rolex was a “destro;” this was a Rolex for “me.”
And all apologies to my colleagues at the same meeting, but I kind of monopolized handling it.
Fun Fact: Lefty watches are often referred to as “destro,” after the Italian artisan term that has come to mean something specifically designed to be worn on the right arm.
While not the first left-handed watch by any means, the fact that Rolex put in the effort to relocate the crown and date window to the left side for this year’s GMT-Master II speaks volumes.
Like many lefties, I’ve had to develop some work-around ambidextrous approaches to get through daily life. Still, the fine motor control of my left fingers far outshines my right’s.
However, when I slipped the Rolex GMT-Master II on my right wrist deftly and comfortably in Geneva, for the first time in my experience, I was able to pull out and manipulate a watch crown while it was still on my wrist with smooth dexterity and a sense of satisfaction. And it was a feeling I hadn’t realized I was so desperately missing.
Of course, there is no law that says you must wear a watch on your left wrist, but I have always done so. And in following that tradition, I’ve always taken it off my wrist to aid my hammier right hand to adjust the crown. Some lefties (and righties, to be fair) do the same, and actually, I know some lefties who flip their watches upside down for finer crown adjustments so they can use their nimbler fingers. It’s not that big of deal; you just kind of get used to it.
So, it’s that idea of being able to do what you’re used to without accommodation or special tricks that truly opens the door of possibilities for this watch. At least, it did for me.
Don’t get me wrong; I fully reveled in my initial experiences wearing the GMT-Master II on the intended right wrist. But during the subsequent times I’ve gotten to handle it – based on my personal disposition – the GMT-Master II can do so much more than make life a little easier for lefties.
Without really thinking about it, I strapped it on my left wrist. Even though the crown was technically pointing the wrong way, it was perfectly comfortable. And it had a subtle, “What’s wrong (or right?) with this picture?” coolness and uniqueness. While I’d have to default to my practice of taking my watch off to adjust the crown, now righties who choose to wear it like this will be joining me.
Honestly, if I owned this watch, I’d probably evenly split which wrist I wore it on: The right for something different; the left because is just feels more familiar. And both options work.
I’m Switzerland (get it?) on the location of the date window, frankly. It’s easily visible no matter which wrist you wear the Rolex GMT-Master II on, especially with Rolex’s signature cyclops magnifier.
Once I played around with the “bi-wristual” nature of the GMT-Master II, I felt emboldened to play around with the gorgeous black and green Cerachrome ceramic bezel. I am a big fan of all of Rolex’s often soft-drink nicknamed bi-color bezel work, but this color combination is by far my favorite (so far). Again, without thinking about it too much, I flipped the bezel 180 degrees, and left it there because I liked how it looked.
This is another case of intended use meeting personal inspiration. As issued, the GMT-Master II, regardless of which wrist you wear it on, presents the black half of the bezel up top and the green half on the bottom with the arrow in the 12 o’clock position. And yes, as a diver, I am probably more cognizant of the intended use of a rotating bezel (of any stripe) than most. But, c’mon, who doesn’t like to play around with that thing?
I’ve gotten into the habit of leaving the bezels of my dive watches dialed into the bottom-timing position of my last scuba adventure as a kind of memento of the event, so who says you can’t wear a colorful bezel like this any way you want to?
Upside down, split down the middle, at a rakish chromatic angle? With a color combination this strong, I say, have at it. Change it every day if you feel motivated; develop your signature way of wearing it. It doesn’t have to help indicate a second time zone. You’re the one who sweated out the waiting list: Let your freak flag fly.
Okay, I’m stepping off the soapbox. But I did find my experiences with the GMT-Master II to be a bit of a revelation and an impetus to rethink how, in general, I wear watches. And, though the watch world is still testing out a nickname to nail the landing for it, my personal nomination for the Rolex GMT-Master II is the “Ambi-Destro.”