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Watch Review

Insanely Iced: The Black Sapphire GMT-Master II ref. 116759 SANR

Paul Altieri

At Baselworld 2007, Rolex unveiled three outrageous versions of the GMT-Master II. In addition to the 18k white gold construction, this trio of GMT-Master II shines bright with some heavy gem embellishing. There’s the GMT-Master II ref. 116759 SA with diamonds and blue sapphires, the 116759 SARU with diamonds, sapphires, and rubies, and finally, the ref. 116759 SANR with diamonds and black sapphires. The latter, the GMT-Master II ref. 116759, recently came through the doors at Bob’s Watches and we had to take a closer look at this insanely iced Rolex.

GMT-Master II ref. 116759 SANR

An unabashedly extravagant jeweled Rolex watch, almost every inch of this GMT-Master II ref. 116759 SANR is covered in gems. On the 18k white gold 40mm Oyster case, there are diamonds on the crown guards and lugs. Plus, the center links of the white gold Oyster bracelet are blanketed entirely with diamonds. On a side note, because the ref. 116759 is a part of Rolex’s latest generation of GMT-Master II models, it includes the sturdier Oyster clasp similar to the Daytona.

GMT-Master II ref. 116759
This GMT-Master II ref. 116759 is covered in diamonds and black sapphire.

The dial is also completely paved with white diamonds. The sparkly surface is a lavish background to the luminescent hour markers and center Mercedes-style hands. But the pièce de résistance is, of course, the bidirectional rotating bezel. Adorning the bezel of the GMT-Master II ref. 116759 SANR are 76 white diamonds and 12 black sapphires—the black gems replace where a numeral would normally be on a typical GMT-Master bezel. Even the upside down triangle at the top of the bezel is a black sapphire.

Rolex Caliber 3186

Due to the opulent style of the GMT-Master II ref. 116759 SANR, it’s easy to forget that it’s part of Rolex’s iconic family of pilot watches. The very first GMT-Master from 1955 was, in fact, a tool watch for Pan Am pilots to keep track of two time zones while on the job. And thanks to the 24-hour hand and bezel of this particular GMT-Master II, the ref. 116759 can also indicate two time zones simultaneously.

Powering the hour, minute, seconds, and 24-hour hands, as well as the date function, of the GMT-Master II ref. 116759 SANR is the Rolex Caliber 3186. The Caliber 3186 is an in-house Rolex automatic mechanical movement that operates at 28,800 bph and offers 48 hours of power reserve. What’s more, the movement also includes the Rolex Parachrom hairspring for better resistance to daily knocks and temperature swings.

The GMT-Master II
76 white diamonds and 12 black sapphires on a single watch.

Although the GMT-Master II ref. 116759 SANR would rarely be worn in the water, it does boast the famous Rolex water resistance. The Triplock winding crown, fluted caseback, and Oyster case construction allow this GMT-Master II to dive down to 330 feet (100 meters) if need be.

While some of us admire Rolex mostly for their tool watches, let’s not forget that they are masters of diamonds and gems too. And when a tool watch like the GMT-Master II is given that Rolex gem-setting treatment, a striking watch comes out the other side—even if it’s not to everyone’s taste.

What do you think of the black sapphire GMT-Master II ref. 116759 SANR? Love it or hate it? Leave us your comment below.

Paul Altieri
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