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The History of The Rolex Batman GMT-Master II

Paul Altieri

While the Rolex GMT-Master has been around since 1954, the Rolex Batman is one of the newer additions to the collection, featuring a blue and black Cerachrom ceramic bezel. Nicknamed the Rolex Batman thanks to that color pairing, the blue and black GMT-Master II Rolex Batman made its debut in 2013 in the form of the reference 116710BLNR. While the history of the Rolex Batman GMT-Master II is short, there are some notable upgrades, updates, and variations to consider. For instance, there’s the current production GMT-Master II ref. 126710BLNR, which is not only newer but also available with two different bracelets.

The Rolex GMT-Master II was an instant classic, and with its recent upgrades, it has garnered even more appreciation from the luxury watch community. Let’s take a closer look at all the important milestones and the evolution of the “Batman” Rolex GMT-Master II.

About Rolex Batman

  • Release Year: 2013
  • Model: GMT-Master II
  • Reference: 116710BLNR, 126710BLNR
  • Size: 40mm
  • Case Material: Oystersteel (904L Stainless Steel)
  • Bezel: Cerachrom, Blue and Black
  • Dial: Black, Four Hands (12-hour, 24-hour, minutes, seconds), Date Window
  • Lume: Chromalight
  • Crystal: Sapphire with Cyclops Date Magnification Lens
  • Bracelet: Oyster or Jubilee (126710BLNR)
  • Caliber: 3186 (116710BLNR) or 3285 (126710BLNR) Automatic Movements
  • Water Resistance: 330 Feet (100 Meters)
  • MSRP: Starts at $10,550

The Rolex Batman Origins: GMT-Master Collection History

When examining the history of the Rolex GMT-Master the Rolex GMT-Master Reference 6542 started it all.  The first model set a new standard in functionality with its distinctive fourth hand and immediately recognizable bezel. Its design was both practical and stylish, featuring a two-tone bezel in blue and red which earned it the nickname “Rolex Pepsi.” The materials used in the bezel have evolved over the years, from Bakelite initially to anodized aluminum, and most recently to Cerachrom, Rolex’s proprietary ceramic, which is known for its durability and fade resistance. This reference was also worn by James Bond in the movie Goldfinger.

Over the decades, the Rolex GMT-Master has undergone various updates and refinements in design and technology, leading to the introduction of the Rolex GMT-Master II 16760 in 1983, which quickly earned the nickname “Rolex Fat Lady.” This new iteration allowed for the independent setting of the hour hand without disturbing the minute and seconds hand, enhancing the functionality for travelers moving between multiple time zones.

Rolex Batman Release Date: The First Of Its Kind

Rolex Batman GMT-Master II History 126710BLNR

When the Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 116710BLNR (Rolex Batman) was released at Baselworld 2013, the watch community paid attention. Not only was the blue and black bezel a contemporary and handsome iteration of the dual-toned bezel that we’ve come to know and love from the GMT-Master collection, but it was also the first of its kind.

Rolex had already been Cerachrom (its proprietary ceramic alloy) for bezels for about ten years, but it wasn’t until the Batman GMT that the company was able to use this tricky material to create a two-tone bezel. In fact, prior to the release of the blue-black bezel, Rolex had officially stated that it could only produce monochromatic Cerachrom bezels due to how difficult it was to work with this ceramic material.

However, Rolex eventually achieved a breakthrough and the result was a rich and saturated, bi-color bezel that is both much stronger and more fade-resistant than its aluminum counterparts. The “BLNR” portion of the “Batman” reference number is short for “Bleu Noir,” which is French for “Blue Black.”

Not only was the original Batman the first bi-color ceramic bezel, but it was also the only one available on a stainless steel GMT-Master II watch for several years.

Rolex Batman 116710BLNR: 2013-2018

Rolex Batman GMT-Master II History 116710BLNR

In addition to its bezel, there are other defining elements of the original Rolex Batman ref. 116710BLNR. The watch itself is built off of the Rolex 116710, which debuted in 2007. This GMT-Master came with new features like the (then brand new) Caliber 3186 movement with a smoother-operating 24-hour hand and a Paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring.

It also included a new bezel mounting and an upgraded Triplock screw-down crown for improved water resistance. The 116710BLNR, like the all-black bezel ref. 116710LN, also featured a ‘Maxi’ dial with larger hands hour markers; however, the Batman version uniquely features a blue 24-hour hand to match the bezel. The GMT-Master ref. 116710BLNR is paired exclusively with an Oyster bracelet, complete with an Oysterlock clasp fitted with the Easylink extension system.

Rolex Batman 126710BLNR: 2019-Today

History of the Rolex Batman GMT-Master II 126710BLNR

In 2019, just six years after its original release, the Rolex Batman got its first upgrade with the introduction of the Rolex 126710. Although there were several upgrades inside and out, the most talked-about update was its bracelet. 

Unlike the 116710BLNR, which came equipped with the three-link Oyster bracelet, the newer 126710BLNR was paired with a dressier five-link Jubilee bracelet (also furnished with a folding Oysterlock safety clasp and the Easylink 5mm extension link.) The dressier nature of the newer blue and black GMT watch caused some to nickname it the “Batgirl” instead of the “Batman.”

While some people appreciated this elegant update to the fan-favorite Batman GMT-Master II, others still favored the Oyster bracelet, saying that it went against the inherent sportiness of the GMT-Master collection. However, it’s important to remember that Rolex made the Jubilee bracelet available on vintage and older GMT-Master watches too, so there’s historical precedent there.  Either way, the all-new Jubilee bracelet helped differentiate this new generation of Rolex GMT watches from the brand’s various other Professional watch collections.

Yet, those who were partial to the Oyster bracelet didn’t have to wait too long; Rolex introduced the Oyster bracelet as an option with the GMT-Master II 126710BLNR in 2021. So now, fans of the Rolex Batman can choose between an Oyster or a Jubilee bracelet. 

Beyond the new Jubilee bracelet, the case of the 126710BLNR GMT-Master II was also redesigned with slimmer lugs and profile for a slightly more refined feel on the wrist. Technically speaking, it’s the same 40mm case diameter, but the 126710BLNR was designed to feel a bit thinner and more rounded on the wrist, while the case of the ref. 116710BLNR is a bit more angular and squared-off in its shape. 

Another one of the most essential upgrades of the latest Batman (or Batgirl, whichever you prefer) is the new-generation Caliber 3285 movement with an increased power reserve of 70 hours (compared to the previous 48 hours). If you look closely at the dial of the 126710BLNR, you’ll spot the Rolex crown in-between “Swiss” and “Made” to denote the new movement. 

Rolex Batman Options

History of the Rolex Batman GMT-Master II 126710BLNR Oyster Bracelet

In less than a decade of the history of the blue-and-black GMT, Rolex has made three distinct versions of the Batman:

  1. GMT-Master II ref. 116710BLNR with Caliber 3186 and Oyster Bracelet
  2. GMT-Master II ref. 126710BLNR with Caliber 3285 and Jubilee Bracelet (Rolex Batgirl)
  3. GMT-Master II ref. 126710BLNR with Caliber 3285 and Oyster Bracelet

The Jubilee bracelet option is slightly more expensive at retail than the Oyster bracelet edition; $10,750 sticker price compared to $10,550. 

However, like all stainless steel Rolex watches, the Batman is not an easy model to find (read: virtually impossible) at authorized dealers. Therefore, due to strong demand for the watch, expect to pay at least $19,000 for a current-production BLNR on the secondary market and well over $17,000 for the discontinued Rolex Batman.

Regardless of which Rolex Batman you prefer, the blue and black colorway is a fantastic addition to the GMT-Master pilot watch lineup. It became a success immediately and we have no doubts that it’ll continue to be one of the brand’s most popular options for the foreseeable future.

Paul Altieri
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