What is difference between Rolex GMT Vs Rolex Submariner?


Rolex is a name that stands out in the world of luxury watches. Among its many models, the Rolex GMT and Rolex Submariner are two of the most famous. These watches are not just timekeepers; they are symbols of style, precision, and adventure. While they may look somewhat similar at first glance, they have different stories to tell and unique features to offer.

This article aims to explore the differences between the Rolex GMT and Rolex Submariner, shedding light on their design, functionality, and the specific needs they meet. Whether you’re a traveler, a diver, or simply someone who appreciates fine watches, understanding these differences can help you choose the watch that’s right for you.

History and Purpose

Rolex GMT: The Traveler’s Timepiece

Rolex GMT Master II Batman

The Rolex GMT was introduced in 1954, born out of a collaboration between Rolex and Pan American Airways. It was designed for airline pilots who needed a watch that could display multiple time zones simultaneously. The original model, the Rolex GMT-Master, quickly became a staple for aviators and international travelers alike. Its innovative feature was the rotating 24-hour bezel and a fourth hand on the dial that completed one rotation every 24 hours, allowing wearers to read the time in a second time zone.

  • Origin: Designed for pilots and international travelers
  • Development: Evolved with enhancements in precision, durability, and design

Rolex Submariner: The Diver’s Companion

Rolex Submariner

In contrast, the Rolex Submariner was unveiled in 1953, setting a new standard for diving watches. It was the first watch to be water-resistant up to 100 meters (330 feet), a feat that marked a significant milestone in watchmaking. The Submariner was created with the needs of underwater explorers in mind, offering a robust and reliable tool that could withstand the pressures of deep-sea diving. Its distinctive features included a unidirectional rotating bezel, allowing divers to accurately track their underwater time and ensure their safety.

  • Origin: Tailored for divers and underwater adventurers
  • Evolution: Improved water resistance, legibility, and functionality over the years

The histories of the Rolex GMT and Submariner reflect Rolex’s commitment to meeting the specialized needs of professionals. While the GMT caters to the global traveler, navigating time zones with ease, the Submariner serves as an indispensable tool for divers, offering unmatched reliability beneath the waves. These models have not only fulfilled their initial purposes but have also transcended their functional roles to become icons of style and craftsmanship in the world of luxury watches.

Design and Aesthetics

The newly designed ceramic bezel of the Submariner model

The design and aesthetics of the Rolex GMT and Rolex Submariner reveal the thoughtful consideration Rolex places on both functionality and visual appeal. Each model, while sharing the unmistakable quality and elegance of Rolex craftsmanship, has its own distinctive features that suit its intended purpose and audience.

Case Size and Material

The Rolex GMT and Submariner have evolved over time, but both models typically feature a case size that is both substantial and comfortable for daily wear. The materials used range from stainless steel to more luxurious options like gold and platinum, catering to different tastes and levels of durability required by their wearers.

  • Rolex GMT: Often seen with a slightly larger case to accommodate the additional GMT hand and its corresponding mechanical complexities. The choice of materials varies, including Oystersteel, which is known for its resistance to corrosion.
  • Rolex Submariner: Traditionally features a robust and water-resistant case. The materials include Oystersteel for maximum resistance against the elements, especially salt water.

Dial Design

The dial is where the Rolex GMT and Submariner differ significantly, reflecting their distinct functionalities.

  • Rolex GMT: Features a fourth hand, which is used in conjunction with the bezel to display a second time zone. The dial is designed for clear legibility, with distinct hour markers and a date window.
  • Rolex Submariner: The focus is on underwater legibility, with large luminous hour markers and hands for easy reading in the dark depths of the sea. The Submariner’s dial is more streamlined, with no date or a simple date window, depending on the model.

Bezel Functionality and Design

The bezel designs of these two models are pivotal to their functionality, and each has a unique mechanism suited to its purpose.

  • Rolex GMT: Equipped with a bidirectional rotating bezel marked with a 24-hour scale. This allows the wearer to set the second time zone. The bezel is often two-toned, distinguishing day from night hours.
  • Rolex Submariner: Features a unidirectional rotating bezel with a 60-minute scale, crucial for tracking diving time and ensuring safety underwater. The bezel’s rotation is designed to move only counterclockwise to prevent accidental overestimation of dive time.

Bracelet and Comfort

Both models are equipped with Rolex’s iconic bracelets, designed for durability and comfort. The Oyster bracelet is common, known for its flat three-piece links that are both sturdy and comfortable for daily wear. The Submariner’s bracelet includes a Glidelock extension system, allowing divers to adjust the bracelet over a diving suit.

Technical Specifications

Rolex adjustment crown

The Rolex GMT and the Rolex Submariner are both masterpieces of horological engineering, embodying the pinnacle of Rolex’s innovation and craftsmanship. Their technical specifications are designed to serve their respective purposes, with each model featuring unique mechanisms and features that cater to the needs of travelers and divers alike.

Movement and Precision

At the heart of any Rolex watch is its movement, the intricate mechanism that powers the timepiece. Both the GMT and the Submariner are equipped with Rolex’s in-house movements, which are known for their precision, reliability, and durability.

  • Rolex GMT: Typically uses the Caliber 3285 movement, a self-winding mechanical movement. It is designed specifically for the GMT function, allowing for the display of different time zones. The movement is a certified Swiss chronometer, a designation reserved for high-precision watches that have passed the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) tests.
  • Rolex Submariner: Equipped with the Caliber 3230 (for the no-date model) or the Caliber 3135 (for the date model), these are self-winding mechanical movements. Like the GMT, Submariner movements are certified Swiss chronometers, ensuring exceptional performance both on land and underwater.

Water Resistance

Water resistance is a critical feature for watches designed for underwater use, but it also adds to the durability and versatility of travel watches.

  • Rolex GMT: While primarily designed for air travel, the GMT models offer a decent level of water resistance, typically up to 100 meters. This makes them suitable for swimming and light snorkeling, but they are not designed for deep diving.
  • Rolex Submariner: Designed as a diver’s watch, the Submariner boasts an impressive water resistance of up to 300 meters (or even 400 meters for certain models). This feature is essential for professional divers and ensures the watch’s integrity under extreme pressure.

Special Features

Each model comes with special features that enhance its functionality and user experience, tailored to its intended use.

  • Rolex GMT: The most notable feature is its ability to display multiple time zones simultaneously, thanks to its additional hand and bidirectional rotating bezel. This function is indispensable for international travelers and pilots.
  • Rolex Submariner: The Submariner’s unidirectional rotating bezel is designed for safety, preventing accidental rotation that could indicate more remaining dive time. The luminescent markers on the dial and bezel ensure legibility in the darkest conditions underwater.

Use and Practicality

Rolex watch underwater

The Rolex GMT and Submariner watches are not just symbols of luxury; they are practical tools designed for specific purposes. Their use and practicality extend beyond mere timekeeping, offering functionalities tailored to the lifestyles of their wearers.

Best Suited for Travel or Diving

  • Rolex GMT: This watch is the quintessential travel companion. Designed originally for pilots and frequent travelers, the GMT function allows for easy tracking of multiple time zones. It’s perfect for those who find themselves hopping from one country to another, needing to keep track of home time versus local time. Its elegant design also makes it suitable for business meetings and casual outings alike.
  • Rolex Submariner: The Submariner shines in the realm of diving and water sports. With its substantial water resistance and robust design, it’s ideal for professional divers, marine researchers, and underwater photographers. The precise tracking of dive times and the durability to withstand high pressures make it a life-saving tool beneath the waves. Yet, its classic aesthetic also fits perfectly in more formal or everyday settings, proving its versatility.

Durability and Longevity

Both the Rolex GMT and Submariner are built to last, showcasing Rolex’s commitment to durability and longevity. The use of high-quality materials like Oystersteel, ceramics for the bezel, and sapphire crystal for the dial window ensures that these watches can withstand the rigors of daily wear and extreme environments.

  • Rolex GMT: While it may not face the underwater pressures that the Submariner does, the GMT is designed to endure the challenges of travel. From changes in altitude to exposure to various climates, it remains reliable and accurate.
  • Rolex Submariner: The Submariner’s construction is specifically designed to resist corrosion from seawater and withstand deep-sea pressures. Its longevity is legendary among divers and watch enthusiasts, often passed down through generations.

Practical Considerations

When choosing between the Rolex GMT and Submariner, practical considerations come into play based on the lifestyle and needs of the wearer.

  • For Travelers: The GMT’s ability to display multiple time zones is invaluable. Its sophisticated design also transitions well from outdoor adventures to formal settings.
  • For Divers and Water Sports Enthusiasts: The Submariner’s water resistance, durability, and dive time tracking capability make it an essential tool.
  • For Collectors and Everyday Wear: Both models hold their value exceptionally well, making them not just practical choices for daily wear but also wise investments. Their iconic status, combined with Rolex’s craftsmanship, ensures that they remain desirable and functional for decades.

The Rolex GMT and Submariner serve different, yet occasionally overlapping, purposes. The choice between them hinges on the specific needs and lifestyle of the wearer.

Price and Investment

Person holding a Rolex Submariner 16613

The Rolex GMT and Submariner are not only prestigious timepieces but also significant investments. Their price points reflect the craftsmanship, technology, and heritage that Rolex embodies, while their status as investment pieces speaks to their enduring value and appeal in the luxury watch market.

Price Comparison

  • Rolex GMT: The pricing of the Rolex GMT varies depending on the model, materials, and specific features. Stainless steel versions are generally more accessible, while models crafted in gold or with additional complications and features can command higher prices. The introduction of new models and discontinuation of older ones can also affect pricing dynamically.
  • Rolex Submariner: Similarly, the Submariner’s price range varies, with the basic stainless-steel models being more affordable than those in precious metals or with added gemstones. The Submariner’s price is influenced by its iconic status and demand, which often exceeds supply, leading to higher prices in the secondary market.

Investment Value

Both the Rolex GMT and Submariner are known for their ability to retain and even appreciate value over time. Several factors contribute to their investment potential:

  • Brand Prestige: Rolex’s reputation and standing in the watch industry bolster the value of its watches. The brand’s commitment to quality, innovation, and timeless design ensures that its watches remain desirable.
  • Scarcity and Demand: Limited production runs, especially of particular models or variations, can create scarcity, driving up demand and value in the secondary market.
  • Condition and Provenance: Watches in excellent condition, especially those with a documented history or belonging to limited editions, tend to fetch higher prices.

Making an Informed Choice

When considering a Rolex GMT or Submariner as an investment, potential buyers should conduct thorough research. Market trends, model scarcity, and the watch’s condition all play critical roles in its future value. It’s also wise to consider the watch’s personal value to you as an owner beyond its financial investment potential. Whether it’s a piece to be worn and enjoyed or part of a larger collection, the intrinsic value of owning a piece of Rolex’s storied history can be just as significant.


In comparing the Rolex GMT and Submariner, we’ve explored their unique histories, designs, technical specifications, practical uses, and their value as investments. While each watch serves a different purpose—one as a companion for global travelers and the other as a reliable tool for divers—they both exemplify Rolex’s commitment to precision, durability, and style.

Choosing between them ultimately depends on your lifestyle, preferences, and what you value most in a watch. Whether it’s for travel, diving, daily wear, or as an investment, a Rolex watch is more than just a timepiece; it’s a statement of excellence and an heirloom for generations to come.

Additional Notes

  • The Rolex GMT and Rolex Submariner are part of Rolex’s professional series of timepieces. The GMT is tailored for aviation professionals, offering features that cater to their specific needs, while the Submariner holds the distinction of being the first watch ever crafted specifically for diving enthusiasts. Both models were unveiled to the world at the Basel Fair, marking significant milestones in the history of watchmaking.
  • For individuals interested to sell a Rolex watch online, Big Watch Buyers provides unparalleled service globally. With just three easy steps, you can secure the highest possible offer for your timepiece.
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