Is the new steel Rolex GMT-Master II with a black-grey bezel boring or beautifully monochromatic? Is the new steel Rolex GMT-Master II with a black-grey bezel boring or beautifully monochromatic?

Is the new steel Rolex GMT-Master II with a black-grey bezel boring or beautifully monochromatic?

Zach Blass

Outside of younger collections like the 1908, it was very hard to find the novelty in this year’s Rolex Watches and Wonders 2024 releases. Yet arguably one of the most boring was also possibly one of the strongest propositions: the new Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 126710GRNR. A sequel to the 18k yellow gold and yellow Rolesor (two-tone) models launched last year, the 126710GRNR not only offered the new black-grey ceramic bezel combo in full stainless steel for the first time. It also importantly, depending on your tastes and preferences, filled the void left by the discontinuation of the all black-bezelled GMT-Master II with a new more monochromatic option. The question Rolex fans were left with was is this GMT-Master II too boring? Or, is it beautifully monochromatic and wonderful to have such an option back in the catalogue again?

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The case

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There is absolutely nothing new about the case of the Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 126710GRNR. Rolex, known for incremental updates, has yet to perform another evolution of tweaks as it did with the Submariner in recent years when it shed its Maxi case in favour of a more vintage-like and trimmed-lug 41mm case. Honestly, this is great news because there is, aside from whether or not you take issue with the thicker lugs, nothing proportionally wrong here. Rolex is an industry leader in offering robust, handsome sports watches that are lean for the category, hitting the sweet spots across the various dimensions: 40mm in diameter, around 12mm thick, and 48mm lug-to-lug. For most, this is perfection for such a design, and I absolutely loved how it sat and wore on my wrist – even as a lover of my smaller Datejust 36 that I find to be my personal Goldilocks size. Oh, and just to cover all bases, it remains 100 metres water-resistant with a Trip-lock screw-down crown.

The novelty, a term I use loosely, is the fact the black-grey ceramic bezel, (which is yet to have a unanimous nickname, but “Guinness” and “Bruce Wayne” seem to be in the lead), is available on an Oystersteel model.  As Buffy pointed out in their introduction of the watch, the grey, especially in the context of full Oystersteel and platinum 24-hour scale inlays, is very ghost-like. It is as if, were ceramic prone to patination, half the bezel was left out in the sun. It is discernible enough to legibly convey the day/night of the 24-hour scale, but its subtlety results in a plainer aesthetic. It does not have the pop of the beloved “Pepsi” and “Batman” bezels, nor the contentious “Sprite” black-green bezel.

The dial

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The glossy black lacquer of the dial once again perfectly matches the black of the Cerachrom bezel. The bolder applied indices, iconic Mercedes handset, lollipop running seconds hand, and arrow-shaped GMT hand all remain as they were – offering ample luminescence in the dark. What is new, or rather returning, is green ‘GMT-MASTER II’ text and a green-coated stem for the GMT hand. I have gotten pretty darn good at anticipating the conversation around a watch, but I was very surprised to see just how many people objected to the green accents in its design. To be clear, this sentiment is by no means indicative of the majority or minority with any sort of certainty. But it was a comment that arose, both within the Time+Tide team and in the broader watch community. I’ll circle back with my thoughts in a bit once we reach the verdict below.

The bracelets

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Speaking of contention and debate, Borna and I recently went head-to-head – I fighting on behalf of #teamjubilee and Borna #teamoyster. The good news is the GMT-Master II 126710GRNR, like its other siblings, is offered on both bracelets – although the Jubilee will set you back US$200 more at retail. Both are great options, who are we kidding here? The Jubilee does formalize the look a bit, while the Oyster bracelet feels a little bit more grounded with less flashiness. Aesthetic bias aside, I personally find the Jubilee is more comfortable due to its increased articulation. With more links of smaller size, there is a particular silky quality to the Jubilee as it wraps around the wrist. It also aerates the wrist better with its gaps. That being said, for a configuration that leans into a more stealthy vibe due to its lack of more bold colours, I could understand why some may find this more at home on the Oyster bracelet. Both, of course, feature an Easylink clasp that allows you to extend the bracelet approximately the length of one link on-the-fly should you wish.

The movement

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Beneath a solid caseback, you have Rolex’s in-house automatic 3285 movement with 70 hours of power reserve. Without an exhibition caseback there is very little to speak to aesthetically, but you can be sure that it has an attractive, albeit industrial, finish. The value of Rolex’s movements, however, stems from their robustness, accuracy, and dimensions as they are, in part, why Rolex can keep its cases for its sports watches more slender than most. As a Superlative Chronometer, the watch leaves the factory running within two seconds per day in either direction – which is absolutely exceptional. Over time, if my Datejust 36 is any indication (now gaining four seconds per day), the watch may begin to run beyond such stringent parameters.

The verdict

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With so much of the watch still the same, simply a colour remix, I cannot help having a bit of déjà vu writing this review. Really, the centre of the conversation here is the colour of the bezel and the green accents on the dial. See, I told you I would circle back. I take the position that this was a smart move. It makes sense to once again have a design reminiscent of the former all-black one that people did miss once discontinued. And part of filling that void was bringing back the green accents also found on that model. From a legibility standpoint, green is really the best option. If Rolex went with a bolder yellow or orange, it would have disturbed the monochromatic vibes too much. A black hand would have been too stealth, but I would have been curious to see a hand that matched the grey of the bezel along with the dial text printed in such a colour. Although, such grey-coloured text would have little contrast against the white text beneath it. Green is Rolex’s signature colour as well, so it is a nice little Easter egg for this model.

As I see it, the 126710GRNR offers a more under-the-radar option within the GMT-Master II lineup. This is great for those who would prefer not to have a soda-like burst of colour on their watch. Also, with Rolex watches potentially bringing more heat on their owners, eagle-eyed watch thieves always trying to spot and target them, it is nice to have a stealthier option on that front as well. That being said, Rolex is Rolex. The brand’s watches are designed with the intention of being able to be spotted from afar.

Rolex GMT-Master II 126710GRNR pricing and availability

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The Rolex GMT-Master II 126710GRNR is available now for purchase via authorised Rolex dealers. Price: US$10,700 (Oyster bracelet), US$10,900 (Jubilee bracelet)

Brand Rolex
Model GMT-Master II
Reference 126710GRNR
Case Dimensions 40mm (D) x 12mm (T) x 48mm (LTL)
Case Material Oystersteel (904L stainless steel)
Crystal(s) Sapphire crystal
Dial Black with green GMT hand
Strap Oystersteel Oyster or Jubilee bracelet, easylink folding clasp
Movement 3285, in-house, automatic
Power Reserve 70 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, seconds, GMT, date
Availability Now
Price US$10,700 (Oyster bracelet)
US$10,900 (Jubilee bracelet)