Rolex GMT vs Submariner: Which is the Ultimate Choice?


Greetings, watch enthusiasts! Today, we’re going to delve into the world of Rolex watches and compare two of the most iconic models – the GMT and Submariner. Both are renowned for their precision, durability, and timeless style. But how do they differ? And which one is the best for you? Let’s find out!

If you’re reading this, chances are you already know a thing or two about Rolex watches. Founded in 1905 by Hans Wilsdorf, Rolex has long been synonymous with luxury, quality, and innovation. Their timepieces are not only status symbols but also technical marvels that have stood the test of time. Today, Rolex is among the most valuable and recognized brands in the world, and its watches are worn by celebrities, athletes, and watch collectors alike.

In this article, we’ll compare the GMT and Submariner models in terms of their design, features, performance, and price. We’ll also address some common questions and misconceptions about these watches. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or a first-time buyer, this guide will help you make an informed decision and choose the Rolex that suits your needs and preferences.

Rolex GMT vs Submariner: The Differences

Before we dive into the details, let’s clarify what sets the Rolex GMT and Submariner apart. Although both watches share some similarities, they were designed for different purposes and audiences:

  • The Rolex GMT was introduced in 1955 as a pilot’s watch, specifically for Pan American Airways pilots who needed a reliable timepiece to navigate multiple time zones. The GMT features a 24-hour hand and a rotating 24-hour bezel that can be used to track a second time zone.
  • The Rolex Submariner was introduced in 1953 as a diver’s watch, intended for underwater exploration and sport. The Submariner features a unidirectional rotating bezel that can be used to measure elapsed time and a water-resistant case that can withstand depths of up to 300 meters.

These differences translate into distinct design elements, functions, and prices, which we’ll explore in more detail below. Keep in mind that there are many variations within each model, depending on the year, material, dial, and bracelet. We’ll focus on the most common and widely available options.

Design and Materials

The Rolex GMT and Submariner share many design elements, such as the Oyster case, the Cyclops lens, and the Mercedes-style hands. However, there are some notable differences:

  • The Rolex GMT has a larger case size, typically 40mm or 42mm, compared to the Submariner’s 40mm size. This makes the GMT more visible and wrist-dominant.
  • The Rolex GMT features a rotating 24-hour bezel that can be used to track a second time zone, as opposed to the Submariner’s unidirectional rotating bezel that measures elapsed time.
  • The Rolex GMT has a distinctive two-tone bezel, with half blue and half red, compared to the Submariner’s all-black or all-green bezel. This bezel design is also known as the “Pepsi” or “Coke” bezel, depending on the color scheme.
  • The Rolex GMT has an option for a Jubilee bracelet, which has five links instead of the Submariner’s flat, three-link Oyster bracelet. The Jubilee bracelet offers a dressier and more comfortable look, while the Oyster bracelet is more versatile and robust.
  • The Rolex GMT has a GMT hand, which is an extra hour hand that completes one rotation in 24 hours. This hand can be set independently from the main hour hand, allowing the wearer to track a second time zone. The Submariner does not have a GMT hand.

As for materials, both watches are available in various combinations of stainless steel, 18k gold, and two-tone (steel and gold). The Submariner also has a version in all-gold, while the GMT has a version in steel with a black ceramic bezel, known as the “Batman” or “Bruiser” model. The prices of these watches vary depending on the material and configuration, with the GMT typically being more expensive due to its additional features.

Features and Performance

When it comes to technical specifications, the Rolex GMT and Submariner are among the most advanced watches in the world. Here are some of their key features:

  • The Rolex GMT is powered by the Caliber 3285 movement, which is a newer and more accurate version of the Caliber 3186 movement found in previous models. The GMT also has a Parachrom hairspring and a Paraflex shock absorber, which enhance its resistance to shocks and temperature changes. The Submariner is powered by the Caliber 3235 movement, which is also a newer and more accurate version of the Caliber 3135 movement found in previous models. The Submariner also has a Chronergy escapement and a longer power reserve of 70 hours, compared to the GMT’s 70 hours.
  • The Rolex GMT has a date function, which displays the date in a window at 3 o’clock. The Submariner also has a date function, but it’s displayed on the dial through a magnifying lens, known as the Cyclops lens. Some purists prefer the Submariner without a date function, as it gives the watch a cleaner and more symmetric look.
  • The Rolex GMT has a 24-hour hand, which can be set independently from the main hour hand by turning the bezel. This allows the wearer to track a second time zone, either for travel or business purposes. The Submariner does not have a 24-hour hand or a second time zone function, as it was designed for underwater use.
  • The Rolex GMT has a water resistance of 100 meters, which makes it suitable for swimming and snorkeling but not for diving. The Submariner has a water resistance of 300 meters, which makes it suitable for scuba diving and other water sports. Both watches have screw-down crowns and casebacks, which ensure a tight seal against water and dust.

Overall, the Rolex GMT and Submariner offer exceptional accuracy, reliability, and durability, thanks to their state-of-the-art movements and materials. The GMT is more versatile and practical for travelers and frequent flyers, while the Submariner is more specialized and robust for divers and adventurers. However, both watches are equally impressive and coveted by watch enthusiasts worldwide.

Pros and Cons of Rolex GMT vs Submariner

Now that we’ve seen the differences between the Rolex GMT and Submariner, let’s weigh their pros and cons:

Pros of Rolex GMT

  1. Can track two time zones simultaneously, which is handy for frequent travelers or businessmen who deal with different time zones.
  2. Has a distinctive and eye-catching two-tone bezel, which adds color and character to the watch.
  3. Offers a dressier option with the Jubilee bracelet, which complements formal attire and looks elegant on the wrist.
  4. Has a larger case size, which makes it more visible and wrist-dominant, especially in the 42mm version.
  5. Is equipped with the latest technology and materials, such as the Caliber 3285 movement and the Paraflex shock absorber, which ensure optimal performance and durability.

Cons of Rolex GMT

  1. Is more expensive than the Submariner, due to its additional features and complexity.
  2. May look too flashy or colorful for some tastes, especially with the Pepsi or Coke bezel.
  3. May be too large or heavy for some wrists, especially the 42mm version.
  4. Does not have a diving or sport-specific function, which may limit its appeal for some buyers.

Pros of Rolex Submariner

  1. Has a timeless and classic design, which is instantly recognizable and versatile for any occasion.
  2. Is more affordable than the GMT, while still retaining the high standards of Rolex quality and craftsmanship.
  3. Is built for underwater use, with a water resistance of 300 meters and a unidirectional rotating bezel that measures elapsed time.
  4. Comes in various color schemes, such as all-black or all-green, that give it a sleek and stealthy look.
  5. Has a clear and legible dial, with luminescent markers and hands that ensure easy reading in any lighting condition.

Cons of Rolex Submariner

  1. Does not have a second time zone or GMT function, which may be a deal-breaker for frequent travelers or businessmen.
  2. May look too plain or boring for some tastes, especially compared to the colorful and sophisticated GMT.
  3. May be too small or thin for some wrists, especially compared to the larger and bolder GMT.
  4. Has a date function that some purists consider unnecessary or distracting, and cannot be removed.

Rolex GMT vs Submariner: The Table Comparison

Rolex GMT Rolex Submariner
Year of Introduction 1955 1953
Functionality GMT/Second Time Zone Diving/Elapsed Time
Bezel Rotating 24-Hour Unidirectional Rotating
Bezel Colors Blue/Red (Pepsi), Black/Red (Coke), Black/Blue (Batman), Black/Ceramic Black, Green, Blue
Bracelet Oyster or Jubilee Oyster
Case Size 40mm or 42mm 40mm
Case Material Stainless Steel, Two-Tone Steel/Gold, 18k Gold Stainless Steel, Two-Tone Steel/Gold, 18k Gold, All-Gold
Movement Caliber 3285 Caliber 3235
Power Reserve 70 Hours 70 Hours
Water Resistance 100 Meters 300 Meters
Date Function Yes Yes (with Cyclops Lens)

Note: The above table reflects the most common and popular configurations of the Rolex GMT and Submariner watches, but there may be variations and exceptions depending on the year, material, and geography.

FAQs About Rolex GMT vs Submariner

1. What is the meaning of GMT in Rolex GMT?

The letters GMT stand for Greenwich Mean Time, which is the time standard that is used for the world’s time zones. The Rolex GMT was designed to help pilots and travelers keep track of different time zones simultaneously, by using the rotating 24-hour bezel and the independent GMT hand.

2. What is the difference between GMT and UTC time zones?

The GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) time zone is based on the mean solar time at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London, and is also known as Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)+0. The UTC time zone, on the other hand, is a standard time zone used for international telecommunications, radio and satellite navigation, and is also known as UTC±0. Both time zones are equivalent in terms of their hourly difference from the Prime Meridian, but the UTC is more precise and consistent than the GMT, which depends on the Earth’s rotation.

3. Can you wear a Rolex GMT or Submariner with a suit?

Yes, you can wear both the Rolex GMT and Submariner with a suit or formal attire, especially if you choose the Jubilee bracelet or a leather strap. However, keep in mind that these watches are more commonly associated with sport or casual wear, and may not match the dress codes of some events or workplaces.

4. How much does a Rolex GMT or Submariner cost?

The price of a Rolex GMT or Submariner varies depending on the material, year, and configuration, but typically ranges from $9,000 to $40,000 or more. The all-gold versions can cost upwards of $50,000, while vintage or limited editions can fetch even higher prices.

5. How often should I service my Rolex GMT or Submariner?

Rolex recommends servicing your GMT or Submariner every 5 to 10 years, depending on the wear and tear, usage, and exposure to water, dust, and shocks. A Rolex service involves disassembling, cleaning, lubricating, and reassembling the watch, as well as checking and adjusting its accuracy and functions. It’s important to have your Rolex serviced by an authorized dealer or service center, to ensure the quality and authenticity of the parts and work.

6. Can I swim or dive with my Rolex GMT or Submariner?

Yes, both the Rolex GMT and Submariner are water-resistant watches that are designed for swimming and diving. The Submariner, in particular, has a water resistance of 300 meters or 1,000 feet, which makes it suitable for scuba diving and other water sports. However, it’s important to make sure that the crown and caseback are properly screwed down before immersing the watch in water, and to avoid operating the crown or bezel while underwater.

7. How can I tell if my Rolex GMT or Submariner is authentic?

Rolex watches are highly sought-after and valuable, which makes them a target for counterfeiters and fraudsters. To ensure that your Rolex GMT or Submariner is authentic, look for the following features:

  • The Rolex crown logo on the dial and bracelet clasp.
  • The serial number and model number engraved on the case and bracelet links.
  • The Cyclops lens over the date window, which magnifies the date by 2.5x.
  • The smooth and precise movements of the second hand, which should tick smoothly and without skipping.
  • The heft and weight of the watch, which should feel solid and substantial, compared to a replica which may be lighter or flimsy.
  • The authenticity certificate and warranty card, which should match the watch serial number and be stamped by an authorized dealer or service center.


Congratulations, you’ve reached the end of our guide on Rolex GMT vs Submariner! We hope that this article has provided you with valuable insights and information about these two remarkable watches. Whether you prefer the GMT’s versatility or the Submariner’s toughness, you can be sure that you’re investing in a timeless and iconic timepiece that will last for generations. Remember to choose a watch that speaks to you and reflects your personal style and aspirations. And if you have any questions or comments, feel free to share them below. Happy watch hunting!


The information in this article is for educational and entertainment purposes only, and should not be construed as professional advice or endorsement. The opinions expressed in this article are based on the author’s research and experience, and may not reflect the views of all Rolex enthusiasts or experts. The author