16.06.2023 - Rolex

Which wins: Rolex Submariner v GMT Master?

Asking this is like trying to choose between Spiderman and Superman, Ant and Dec or Mick and Keith.

The two hugely popular luxury watches are incredibly similar – you could even be forgiven for getting them mixed up from a distance. 

So can there ever be one true hero when it comes to GMT v Submariner? 

We check out the differences between the sought-after dive watch reference 116610 and the GMT 116710.

A brief history

Released only a year apart (The original Submariner in 1953 and the GMT Master in 1954) the two timepieces were made for different purposes. 

The Submariner – as worn by James Bond – was designed as a dive watch and created with a water resistance of 300m. The GMT was originally designed for pilots, hence the 100m water resistance.

But both models are now considered icons of the Rolex brand, both serving as functional, trendy watches for wear everyday. In the 1980s, Rolex updated the GMT to the GMT Master II.

Bezels and bracelets

The two watches are remarkably similar – both with a Triplock winding crown, 40mm super cases and ceramic bezels – and still both incredibly popular choices today.

With the bezel, the GMT Master II features a 24-hour scale, while the Submariner features a 60-minute scale.

A handy thing about the GMT is the fourth hand to display the additional time zone. It has the ability to reset to local time without affecting the 24-hour hand’s position. It has three time zones and the bezel rotates differently to the Submariner’s.

The Submariner has three hands – hours, minutes and seconds. Its uni-directional bezel is marked in five minute increments, with its main aim to show how long a person has been diving for.

Whilst both watches have Oyster bracelets we do start to see some differences. The Submariner features Rolex’ own Oysterlock safety clasp and Glidelock extension system – perfect for slipping over a wetsuit, but on the GMT we see buckles with an Oysterlock safety clasp but with the Easylink 5mm comfort extension link.

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When it comes to the dials, the GMT is that bit sportier with slightly bigger numbers but the watches have identical date windows.

And then of course, there’s the movement. Reference116710 features the calibre 3186 movement, and the 116610 features the 3135 movement.

However, the design of the more recent GMT Master II models more closely matches the long-term design of the Submariner. Now, the two models are more aesthetically similar just with functional differences. 

The Submariner is available in a variety of different materials, including stainless steel, yellow gold, and white gold.

How we can help

They have a similar case size, and a similar design style, and are even priced in a similar range on the secondary market.

It is hard to say which watch is superior. In fact, we can’t decide. If you’re torn between buying one of these two timepieces and aren’t sure which to choose, consider what you will be using the watch for most.

If you’d love to own a Submariner and a GMT Master II, come and chat to our team. If we don’t have your dream watch in our boutique, we have a sourcing team who would love the challenge of finding it.