As most of you probably already know, Rolex introduced a new stainless steel GMT-Master II watch at Baselworld 2019. It is an updated version of the fan-favorite GMT-Master II “Batman” (nicknamed so for its black and blue Cerachrom ceramic bezel), complete with a new caliber and a new Jubilee bracelet.
UPDATE: As of 2019, the Rolex GMT Batman continues to be one of the hottest, most desirable watches on the planet with retail price values exceeding $16,000 USD. Demand continues to outstrip supply for this GMT model as there are more buyers than sellers.
While the introduction of the GMT-Master II ref. 126710BLNR is big news, even more newsworthy (and perhaps not as known) is the discontinuation of specific models from Rolex’s famed pilot’s watch collection. Read on to find out which Rolex GMT models have surprisingly been dropped from their current catalog.
Rolex No Longer Makes an All-Black Bezel GMT-Master II
When Rolex debuted its very first ceramic bezel in 2005, it was fitted on the yellow gold GMT-Master II ref. 116718. It was an all-black bezel because, at the time, Rolex admitted that a two-tone ceramic bezel would be too difficult to make (of course, that stance changed with the introduction of the blue/black ceramic bezel a few years later). The all-black Cerachrom bezel later found its way onto the stainless steel GMT-Master II ref. 116710LN.
So, it may come as a surprise to you that Rolex no longer offers a monochromatic black bezel (LN) within the GMT-Master II collection – something that has been in the catalog since the early 1970s. As of now, all GMT-Master II bezels are in a two-tone color-way: blue and red (BLRO), blue and black (BLNR), and brown and black (CHNR).
Rolex No Longer Makes a Yellow Gold GMT-Master II – Solid or Two-Tone
Look closely at the current Rolex GMT-Master II lineup and you’ll notice that two models are missing: the yellow gold GMT-Master II ref. 116718 and the two-tone yellow gold and stainless steel GMT-Master ref. 116713.
Therefore, Rolex has completely discontinued manufacturing any yellow gold GMT-Master II models (for now). This is the first time Rolex has not made a yellow gold version of the GMT-Master since the watch’s early days in the 1950s.
Presently, the only precious metal versions of the GMT-Master II being made by Rolex are the white gold GMT-Master ref. 126719BLNR, the Everose gold GMT-Master ref. 126715CHNR, and the two-tone Everose gold and steel GMT-Master ref. 126711CHNR.
Why Did Rolex Drop the All-Black Bezel and the Yellow Gold GMT-Master II?
It’s impossible to know exactly why Rolex ever does anything since they are a notoriously secretive brand. However, we can still come up with a couple of theories as to why Rolex decided to let go of the classic all-black bezel and the classic yellow gold option from the GMT-Master II fleet.
One theory is that it was a step to differentiate the GMT-Master II collection from their Submariner collection. Given their similar sizes, dial layouts, black ceramic bezels, and metal bracelets, at first glance a yellow gold Submariner and a yellow gold GMT-Master II look remarkably similar on the wrist. (The same applies to the two-tone yellow gold and stainless steel models too). So by only offering yellow gold in the Submariner collection and Everose gold in the GMT-Master II collection, it’s easy to tell the difference between these two popular Rolex sports watches.
Another theory is that Rolex is merely stopping production of these models, for now, to make way for updated versions fitted with new calibers. After all, having half the collection run on the older generation Caliber 3186 and the other half run on the new Caliber 3285 is somewhat awkward. Perhaps we will see the return of yellow gold and/or all-black bezel versions of the GMT-Master II at Baselworld 2020?
While Rolex is no longer making them, the good news is that the secondary market is still home to plenty of steel GMT-Master II ref. 116710LN, yellow gold GMT-Master II ref. 116718, and two-tone GMT-Master II ref. 116713 watches should you be looking for them.