IN-DEPTH: Why the Rolex GMT-Master II “Bat Girl” trumps the original Caped CrusaderZach Blass
Rolex … oh dear, Rolex … love the watches, hate the limited amount of product available. As much as it would be easy to chalk it up to brand power and allure, the reality is the crown manufacturer makes one hell of a wristwatch. The Rolex name may draw all-comers into purchasing their pieces, but the build quality and tried-and-true aesthetics get top marks from collectors and connoisseurs as well. We ultimately vote with our dollars, dictating the values of watches on the second-hand market. But Rolex has its role in this as well. With the industry equivalent of voter suppression, Rolex knows what it is doing by limiting the number produced each year and how many watches actually reach the cases of authorised dealers worldwide. Rolex GMT-Master II models have continually captured the hearts of buyers worldwide, each model seemingly impossible to obtain at retail. The Rolex GMT-Master II 126710BLNR is no exception, taking the beloved bezel of the already popular Batman model and pairing it with a new movement and Jubilee bracelet.
The 904L stainless steel case has the heft of a precious metal on the wrist, an experience you just have to see for yourself in the metal to truly understand. It’s incredibly solid and leaves no doubt it is a luxury creation once you are able to put it on. Sized at 40mm in diameter, 12.2mm thick, and 48mm lug to lug, without including the fixed points of the bracelet, the Rolex GMT-Master II 126710BLNR is the perfect modern size for buyers of all genders and wrists worldwide.
Secured by a screw-down Triplock crown, the watch offers a safe 100 metres of water resistance – which many note may be possibly more due to its usage of the same triple gasket system found in a Rolex Submariner. The watch was released within the Maxi case era of Rolex, which means the case lugs have a block-like profile, resulting in the absence of the more traditional tapered structure and hairline bevelling. The case is entirely satin-brushed on its front-facing elements, with only the top of the bezel knurling and caseband having a mirror polish finish. This better caters to the “tool watch” origins of the watch, with satin finishes typically wearing scratches better than its more polished counterparts.
The bezel that inspires the Batman/Bat Girl moniker is a 24-hour GMT bezel that blends black and blue Cerachrom. The ceramic bezel, and the embedded platinum that creates the numerals on it, are extremely resistant to wear and tear. Some may be more fond of original aluminium bezels, and the patinas that resulted over time, but Rolex strives to make durable long-lasting watches at its core. The ceramic colours will never fade and will likely never build the repertoire of scratches its aluminum siblings gain over time.
The dial of the Rolex GMT-Master II 126710BLNR is the same gloss black found on modern professional Rolex models, with large lume plots found within its white gold framed circular, baton, and triangle indexes. The gloss black, while reflective, remains very legible – a surprising feat considering no AR coatings are disclosed within Rolex specifications. This is actually a very tactful move on their part as anti-reflective coatings are prone to scratching and maintenance, something Rolex works very hard to minimise. The hands are a familiar Rolex style, with a Mercedes hour hand, pencil-minute hand, and lollipop seconds hand fashioned in white gold for increased resistance to wear and rust over time. At the three position, the famed Rolex Cyclops magnifies the black-on-white date window for increased ease of visibility.
As a GMT watch, the dial also features a GMT hand – blue and triangle tipped to match the bezel and stand out from the other hands on the dial. Its function is clear through its aesthetic difference and, as a true GMT, wearers are able to independently adjust the hand without interrupting the timekeeping of the watch thanks to its independent rapid-setting GMT hour hand. Considering the superlative accuracy of the movement within, you don’t want to have to re-correct an already highly accurate watch with each change of time zone.
A surprisingly contentious point of change for the new Rolex GMT-Master II 126710BLNR, the watch is now solely paired at purchase with a more formal appearing Jubilee bracelet. The blowback, even if minor, rather surprised me as the Oyster bracelet previously paired with the watch was the more elegant version with both satin and polished elements. That being said, while both bracelets utilise contrasting polishes, the Jubilee is undoubtedly the most classy of the two and has less of a tool watch look in its build.
But don’t discount the robustness of a modern Jubilee bracelet. It is still incredibly solid and sturdy on the wrist, its link size and form creating more a wrap around the contour of the wrist. It also has the same Easylink adjustment system as the previous Oyster bracelet, which means you can quickly adjust the size of the bracelet by 5mm (the equivalent of adding or removing a link). This is really handy as seasons change and wrist size fluctuates, and prevents owners from having to get brave with a screwdriver or constantly visit their trusted watchmaker.
Rolex have updated its black and blue bezelled phenom to join the Pepsi in utilising the new in-house manufacture caliber 3285. The 3285, and its more efficient Chronergy escapement, have increased the power reserve of the watch by 22 hours – extending its total running time to 70 hours. Considering the overall marketplace today, the upgrade places Rolex more competitively against other brands that were outdoing the crown – at least in regard to power reserve. Even its more approachable sister brand Tudor have a 70+ hour power reserve movement under its belt, so it was about time Rolex joined the party. As expected with a Rolex caliber, it is highly shock resistant and accurate – running within the superlative chronometer standards of plus or minus two seconds a day.
Considering the jet-setting cosmopolitan pilot origins of the watch, I personally believe the watch is better suited on a Jubilee – resulting in a better distinction from its professional Oyster Perpetual date siblings. While it totally can take a dive, the model is not expected to be a true tool watch by today’s standard and is really more associated with businessmen and women in favour of “professionals”. It stands out among other Professional models, and in my opinion is the only one that really pairs well with a Jubilee. I have seen Submariners, Daytonas, and even Oyster Perpetuals on Jubilee bracelets – but something is just off about the pairings. Unless a fluted Datejust or a GMT-Master II, stick with the Oyster bracelet as they don’t share the inherent elegance of the Datejust and GMT-Master, nor the origins of being factory paired with a Jubilee. If I had to pick … I am taking Bat Girl over Batman any day of the week.
Rolex GMT-Master II 126710BLNR “Bat Girl” pricing and availability:
The Rolex GMT-Master II 126710BLNR is available for inquiries at authorised dealers worldwide, but good luck sourcing one if we’re completely honest. Price: $13,600.