Rolex Introduces GMT-Master II Model in 1982

3:52 PM

At the height of the 'Quartz Crisis' that many credit with the decline of the Swiss watchmaking industry from the 1970s to the early 1980s, only the most economically viable Swiss watchmakers remained in business. Rolex was one of those companies, raising the prices of their timepieces consistently through the years to position their products as the ultimate in luxury and innovation. 
photo of First rolex GMT-Master II Model, 1982
First GMT-Master II Model, 1982 (photo: Rolex)
In 1982, Rolex released the GMT-Master II model, which would go on to replace the GMT-Master years later. The GMT-Master II featured a thicker, synthetic sapphire crystal and a thicker case than its predecessor. It also allowed the wearer to jump from one hour to another when adjusting the hour hand without affecting the minute or second hands.

The 1980s also saw the beginning of Rolex's use of 904l stainless steel, which they used in place of the 316l stainless steel which is still the industry standard. This stainless steel alloy is normally used in industrial applications due to its resistance to corrosion and scratching in extreme conditions; it also polished better than 316l stainless steel.

While the advent of quartz watch movements may have altered the landscape of the Swiss watchmaking industry, it would seem to have only reinforced Rolex's vertically integrated business model.

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