What's New With The Rolex GMT Master II: 116713 LN & 116710 LN
By: John B. Holbrook, II
June 23, 2007
Copyright 2007 - All Rights Reserved
The title of this review may be somewhat misleading - the new style GMT Master II isn't really all that "new." The all-gold Rolex GMT Master II 116718 LN photos available on the Rolex Website) was first introduced at the Basel Watch Fair in April of 2005 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the GMT Master - I didn't see the new model personally until I visited Kirk Freeport in Grand Cayman in the Summer of 2006:
Once I returned home, I phoned my contacts at Rolex and expressed interest in reviewing the 116713 LN GMT Master II which had just been released at the 2006 Basel Watch Fair - I reviewed that model in issue #65 of CHRONOS Magazine.
By the time the 2007 Base Watch Fair came around in April, it seemed a forgone conclusion that Rolex would make an all-stainless steel version of the new GMT Master II, which was indeed the case as the 116710 LN debuted. This time however, the time it took for the 116710 LN to reach the US was quite short - reports from online watch enthusiasts who had seen and purchased the watch started happening by June of 2007. WATCH TALK FORUMS member "mathewaspen" purchased his in Cincinnati, OH and allowed me to photograph it.
WHAT'S SO SPECIAL ABOUT THIS NEW GMT II?
1. The ceramic bezel - Rolex R&D has come up with a revolutionary, highly scratch resistant black ceramic material which they are using in the bezel of the new GMT Master II. On the all-gold and two-tone models, the numbers in the bezel are made from real gold, while in the stainless steel version, the bezel numbers are done in platinum. The bezel turns in 24 precise clicks to easily set the bezel to track additional timezones. The inner bezel ring also features the new anti-counterfeiting "RolexRolexRolex" engraving:
2. Triplock crown - where the previous generation GMT Master II used the Rolex Twinlock crown, the new GMT Master II receives the more substantial Triplock crown. While many speculate that the new GMT is more water resistant, the rating remains unchanged at 100m.
3. The Maxi Dial - First seen on the Rolex Yacht-Master, followed by the anniversary LV Submariner, the new GMT Master II is the latest Rolex sport model to receive the fatter hands and enlarged markers of the Maxi Dial design.
4. The "Daytona" Clasp & solid link bracelet - Is Rolex listening to me? For years I (and to be fair, thousands of others) have been vocal about the less than stellar design of the old Oyster clasp. Well, the new GMT Master II now has the exact same clasp currently found on the Daytona - it even has the expanding half link which is so handy on humid days when your wrist swells a bit. The new clasp is an improvement in both aesthetics and functionality. Also taking a cue from both the Daytona and Yacht-Master, the bracelets on the new GMT Master II watches (gold, SS, and TT) have completely solid links.
5. The "Super Case" - When you first put on the new GMT Master II, you'll swear its at least a couple of mm's larger in diameter than the previous version - an optical illusion mostly attributable to the larger bezel. While the new GMT Master II case (dubbed the "Super Case" on many watch discussion fora) is thicker than before at 12.1mm, the diameter remains 40mm.
6. The Movement - The GMT Master II caries the new Rolex 3186 within its Super Case, replacing the Rolex 3185 in the previous model. While the 3186 is an evolution of the 3185, so many of the basic stats are the same in terms of jewel count (31), beat speed (28,800 bph), etc. The movement has been refined to allow for a smoother, more precisely moving 24hr. hand. The 3186 is also equipped with the new Rolex in-house hairspring - the "Parachrom Bleu." This Rolex patented hairspring is made of an alloy of exotic metals such as Niob, and Hafnium among others. Niob oxidizes when exposed to oxygen, and thus creates the distinctive blue color of the hairspring. These new, non-ferrous materials make the hairspring resistant to magnetic fields, as well as being all but unaffected by changes in temperature - two accuracy killers for mechanical watches.
On paper, the new GMT Master II would appear to be the most robust, accurate, and all-around best performing watch that Rolex has ever produced.
What Happened to the "Pepsi Bezel" GMT Master II
Rolex has confirmed that production has halted on the 16710 "Pepsi bezel GMT Master II (click HERE for my review) model. Ironically, while the new GMT Master II models have been created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the GMT Master II, this year is the first year that the watch has ever not been available with the distinctive red and blue bezel. James Dowling, TZ Rolex Forum moderator recently visited Rolex SA in Geneva and asked if Rolex planned to make a ceramic bezel in the classic red and blue color configuration. Apparently, Rolex has successfully manufactured a green ceramic bezel, but not a red one - they're still working on the problem. So, it's anyone's guess when a Pepsi dial GMT Master II will again be produced by Rolex. It should be noted that technically speaking, Rolex still does produce a Pepsi Bezel GMT Master II - below is a photo I snapped in the Las Vegas Wynn hotel Rolex Boutique of the ruby and sapphire GMT Master II - look closely and you'll see it has the Super Case, Maxi Dial, and green 24hr. hand and printing of the new GMT Master II:
Sure, it's a gold and diamond encrusted monstrosity that's got a higher sticker price than my BMW, but it's still got a red and blue bezel. Let's hope Rolex R&D can come up with a less costly solution to the Pepsi bezel problem.