The Rolex GMT-Master II
The Rolex GMT-Master has been the archetypal wristwatch for pilots, globetrotters, and international business travelers since 1954. The model’s concept and design are the result of a commission from the airline Pan Am, who wanted a reliable timepiece for its crew members. Rolex produced the GMT-Master until 1988, but the first GMT-Master II, the ref. 16760, dates back to as early as 1983. While the two models look almost indistinguishable at first glance, the new watch was groundbreaking in terms of technology.
The Genevan manufacturer outfitted the GMT-Master II with the in-house caliber 3185, which boasts an independently-adjustable GMT hand. Moreover, they replaced the slightly radioactive tritium luminous material with Super-LumiNova. The GMT-Master II also features a sapphire crystal instead of a plastic crystal, and since 2007, the model has come with a scratch-resistant ceramic bezel insert. Rolex has continuously improved their in-house movements, resulting in the current caliber 3285 with a Chronergy escapement, which guarantees the highest level of accuracy and a 70-hour power reserve.
Learn more about the most popular GMT-Master II references, their aesthetic and technical details, and their prices and performance below.
Rolex GMT-Master II Ref. 126710BLRO “Pepsi”
The ref. 126710BLRO is one of the most sought-after GMT-Master II references on the Chrono24 marketplace. Rolex first presented this variant with its red and blue ceramic bezel at Baselworld 2018.
While GMT-Master II fans were anticipating the arrival of a ceramic bezel, the choice of bracelet for this reference came as a surprise. After many years of pairing the model with an Oyster bracelet, Rolex decided to return to the Jubilee bracelet but outfitted it with the Oysterlock safety clasp and Easylink extension system for the first time.
With the ref. 126710BLRO, Rolex also introduced their new caliber 3285. The Superlative Chronometer-certified movement boasts Rolex’s proprietary Chronergy escapement. Rolex guarantees accuracy to +/-2 seconds per day and a 70-hour power reserve when fully wound.
While the watch is virtually unattainable from authorized Rolex retailers due to demand, you can easily purchase the ref. 126710BLRO on Chrono24. However, be aware that high demand plus limited availability equals high premiums. Expect to see prices around $28,500 for a mint-condition watch – a far cry from the official list price of $10,750.
The Rolex GMT-Master II Ref. 116710BLNR “Batman”
The Rolex GMT-Master II 116710BLNR and 126710BLNR have both go by the nickname “Batman” thanks to their blue and black ceramic bezels. Rolex manufactured the ref. 116710BLNR from 2014 to 2019, at which point they introduced its successor, the ref. 126710BLNR. The latter remains part of the current catalog to this day. It distinguishes itself from its predecessor with its in-house caliber 3285, which replaced the 3186. The updated movement offers an improved power reserve of 70 hours. The other big difference is the bracelet: The current reference comes on a Jubilee bracelet, while the former uses an Oyster bracelet.
In terms of finishing and quality, the two watches do not differ in the slightest. Ultimately, it is a matter of personal preference whether you choose the updated movement with an improved power reserve or find the previous 48-hour power reserve sufficient. The same goes for the bracelet, which of course, can be changed out.
There is a clear difference, however, when it comes to price. While the ref. 126710BLNR currently sells for around $24,500 on Chrono24, prices for the previous Batman sit closer to $21,000. Looking at the official list prices, it becomes clear that the Batman isn’t getting any cheaper. The 116710BLNR cost just under $9,000, but Rolex now charges $10,750 for the current version. Try to buy it for that, however, and you’ll be met with an endless waiting list and a smug smile from your authorized dealer of choice.
The GMT-Master II Ref. 126720VTNR With a Green and Black Ceramic Bezel
Right on time for Watches & Wonders 2022, Rolex introduced a brand new GMT-Master II model (ref. 126720VTNR). The release marks the first time the model features a green and black ceramic bezel. Another highlight: Its crown and date window are at the 9 o’clock position. The tried-and-tested 3285 caliber that Rolex introduced in 2018 powers this timepiece. It comes on your choice of an Oyster or a Jubilee bracelet and lists at $11,050.
The Rolex GMT-Master II Ref. 116710LN: The First Ceramic Bezel
The GMT-Master II ref. 116710LN features a solid black bezel. This watch has enjoyed steady demand, which has only grown since its production ceased in 2019. First introduced in 2007, it was the first GMT-Master II that Rolex outfitted with a ceramic bezel. The technical details are consistent with those of the 116710BLNR Batman, i.e., the 116710LN also features a 40-mm stainless steel case with the caliber 3186 (48-hour power reserve) ticking away inside. The Oyster strap is also in line with the first GMT-Master II Batman. This watch now sells for roughly $20,500 new – around double what it cost two years ago. As is the case with almost every other GMT-Master II, the official list price is now nothing more than a fictitious number from the distant past.
The Ref. 16760 Fat Lady & Ref. 16710: Neo-Vintage With Coke Design
Are you looking for a GMT-Master II but don’t want a ceramic bezel? Then you should take a closer look at the reference numbers 16760 and 16710, both of which have aluminum bezels.
In contrast to most other stainless steel GMT-Master II models, the Fat Lady has been relatively stable in terms of price in recent years and even depreciated slightly. You can purchase a pre-owned example in good condition for roughly $14,000. In January 2021, the Fat Lady was selling for some $350 more.
Theis the successor to the Fat Lady. Rolex equipped this timepiece with the revised and slightly slimmer caliber 3185, which, like the 3085, offers a 48-hour power reserve. Due to the flatter movement, the overall watch is less bulky than the previous model. Moreover, the ref. 16710 is available with a variety of bezel colors. You can choose between red and blue (Pepsi), red and black (Coke), or solid black. Regardless of the color, expect to find prices around $14,500 – that’s roughly $2,000 more than in January 2021.
Does the Rolex GMT-Master have good value retention?
When is the best time to buy a Rolex, you ask? Yesterday! This saying also applies to the Rolex GMT-Master II. If you’ve been paying close attention to the figures in this article, you can probably guess the direction in which prices are heading. Data from Chrono24’s marketplace on the ref. 116710LN (discontinued in 2019) couldn’t be clearer: Since Rolex announced production would cease, prices have only gone up. So, if you are looking to buy a watch with stable value, you really can’t go wrong with the Rolex GMT-Master II, no matter which reference you choose.
If you want to avoid ingratiating yourself to an authorized retailer or waiting until old age, your best bet for purchasing a GMT-Master II is on the secondary market. Only time will tell whether it’s wise to buy so far above the MSRP. That being said, popular Rolex models like the GMT-Master II historically haven’t tended to get cheaper over time.
If you care less about pricing and performance and have just fallen for the watch, go ahead and buy without hesitation. One thing is for sure: If you purchase the GMT-Master II, you’ll be getting one of the best and most alluring GMT watches on the market – and one with high recognition value.