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Watch Review

The Modern Marvel: The Rolex GMT-Master II Ref. 116710

Paul Altieri

In our last chapter of our detailed look at the GMT-Master history, we delve into the current GMT-Master II ref. 116710. The newest Rolex pilot’s watch is unlike any that came before it. The first reference of the redesigned GMT-Master II was actually a full gold model—the ref. 16718. While the full yellow gold GMT-Master II ref. 16718 made its debut in 2005, the stainless steel version came out in 2007. Let’s examine this very popular modern stainless steel Rolex sports watch.

Rolex once said it would be impossible to have a bi-colored ceramic bezel.
The Rolex GMT-Master II 116710BLNR is called a Batman.

Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 116710BLNR

When Rolex created the GMT-Master ref. 116710, they packed it will all the modern details that consumers were wanting. Although the case retained its 40mm size, it was redesigned to wear bulkier than its predecessors to fit into the current demand for larger watches. Moreover, on the black dial, we see larger lume plots and thicker Mercedes-style hands for a bolder style.

The Oyster bracelet of the GMT-Master ref. 116710 was also revamped to include polished center links instead of the preceding brushed ones. Naturally, this gives the watch a shinier appearance. Furthermore, the bracelet now attaches via a new Oysterlock folding clasp that is more secure than those on vintage GMT-Master II models. The clasp also has the Easylink system to allow for easy bracelet adjustments without the need for tools.

Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 116710 "Batman" has a bi-color bezel.
The Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 116710 “Batman” was released at Baselworld 2013.

The GMT-Master II ref. 116710 now includes the Triplock winding crown rather than the Twinlock, however, water resistance remains at 330 feet (100 meters). This is a great watch to start collecting since within the stainless steel case of the ref. 116710 beats the Rolex Caliber 3186 automatic movement with the blue Parachrom hairspring—particularly resistant to shocks and temperature swings. Like all former GMT-Master II models, the Caliber 3186 allows the wearer of the ref. 116710 to keep track of three time zones. The center hands for local time, the GMT-hand plus bezel for home time, and a simple turn of the bezel for a third time zone.

The Bezels That Makes The Batman

While the above modifications are certainly appreciated and welcomed, the most notable change to the new generation of the GMT-Master II models is the bezel. All the current GMT-Master II references sport the highly popular Cerachrom ceramic bezels. Coveted not only for its attractiveness but also for its resilience to scratching and fading, ceramic as a bezel material is fantastic. But, when Rolex first introduced the Cerachrom bezel to the GMT-Master II collection, they made it clear that ceramic could not be produced in two colors. Thus, Rolex essentially gave up one of the most iconic design details of the GMT-Master family—the bi-color bezel. As a result, the first stainless steel GMT-Master II was the ref. 116710LN where the LN refers to “Lunette Noir” otherwise known as a black bezel.

Rolex took up the challenge to make the impossible possible.
This GMT-Master II is a watch that was once thought to be impossible due to its bezel colors and material.

However, in 2013 that all changed. Rolex did indeed unveil a bi-color bezel on a stainless steel GMT-Master II in the form of the ref. 116710BLNR. And this time, BLNR refers to “Bleu” and “Noir”—French for blue and black. Fans of the legendary Rolex pilot watch rejoiced and waitlists for the new GMT-Master II ref. 116710BLNR “Batman” quickly filled up. As it happens, this particular GMT-Master II ref. 116710 with the blue and black bezel is still greatly in demand with models in the secondary market selling close to retail prices.

Unfortunately, there’s currently no stainless steel Rolex GMT-Master II with the famed red and blue “Pepsi” bezel. Fans of that iconic bezel colorway have to shell out substantially more for the 18k white gold GMT-Master ref. 116719BLRO. Nevertheless, we still have our fingers crossed that Rolex will eventually create a stainless steel GMT-Master II with a Pepsi ceramic bezel.

Which one is your favorite?

This brings us to the end of our GMT-Master and GMT-Master II historical overview. We hope you enjoyed our trip down memory lane as much as we did. Out of all the vintage and modern GMT-Master references, which are your favorites? Do you prefer vintage GMT-Master models or the newer, more modern ones? Would you opt for Bakelite, aluminum, or ceramic bezels? We’d love to hear from you, so let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Paul Altieri