Rolex Submariner vs GMT-Master II

rolex submariner vs gmt master

The Rolex Submariner and GMT-Master are two of the most coveted luxury sports watches. To the untrained eye, it may seem like there isn’t much separating the two watches – but they do have differences, which go beyond looks.

Let’s take a closer look at these two classics, and discover what makes each of them unique.



Dive Watch vs GMT Watch

The Rolex Submariner and GMT-Master were both launched by Rolex in the mid-1950s and have well-documented histories. The Submariner was introduced in 1953, as the second breakthrough in watch waterproofness, following the invention of the Oyster in 1926.


Rolex Dive vs GMT


Meanwhile, the Rolex GMT-Master was launched in 1954 as an aviation watch. It was equipped with a bi-color, 24-hour bezel to help pilots read time in two different timezones, in just a glance. In 1983, Rolex launched the GMT-Master II, this time equipped with a 24-hour hand, a thicker case, and larger crown guards.

Rolex has continued to modify and create advanced features for their watches over the decades; and some of these changes have made the Sub and GMT-Master II look similar.

What’s the difference?
To point out the differences, we’ll check out the latest stainless steel versions of the two: the Rolex Submariner ref 116610 and the Rolex GMT-Master II ref 116710.


Rolex Bezel


The Submariner bezel is marked in dive watch fashion: it shows 60-minute graduations, broken down into 5-minute increments, with numbers for each ten minutes. You’ll notice too that the first 15 minutes have one-minute tick marks indicated. These were made for divers to monitor their time underwater accurately.

The GMT-Master II, meanwhile, is marked by 24 one-hour increments, with numbers marking the even hours. This works together with the 24-hour hand in telling time in a second time zone.

Another small difference is that the Submariner has a luminous pearl on the bezel, at 12 o’clock. SEE ALL ROLEX >


Rolex Hands


The Submariner has three hands – hour, minute, and seconds, while the GMT-Master has an additional 24-hour hand. The hand is distinctively colored (green, in this case) and displays the “home” reference time in a first time zone, which can be read when used in conjunction with the bezel. SEE ALL ROLEX >

Rolex Bracelet


Both watches are fitted with the same generation Oyster bracelet; but there are some differences with their finish and clasps.

The center links of the GMT-Master II have a high-gloss polish, while those on the Sub have a satin finish. Moreover, only the Submariner is outfitted with Rolex’s Glidelock adjustment system, which lets divers expand the band to about 20 mm. This allows for a secure fit over diving suits. SEE ALL ROLEX >

Rolex Movement

Aesthetics aside, what really makes the Submariner and GMT-Master II different are their movements. Since the GMT-Master has a 4th hand to display a second time zone, it requires a different movement than the one used for three-hand watches. The Rolex Submariner ref 116610 is powered by Caliber 3135. The automatic, three-hand movement with a date complication was introduced in 1988. It quickly became Rolex’s main movement for its men’s watches.

Meanwhile, the Rolex GMT-Master II ref 116710 is powered by Caliber 3186. It powers both the date complication and the independently adjustable hour hand. SEE ALL ROLEX >


The stainless steel models of the Rolex Submariner and Rolex GMT-Master II may have a very similar, ruggedly elegant aesthetic, but they are actually very different when it comes to their intended purpose and features. It’s best to choose the one that fits your needs and lifestyle.






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