Rolex Batman GMT Master 2 (116710BLNR): The “Dark Knight” Returns… For the First Time


    • Hardcore nicknames like the “Dark Knight” will do that for a watch.

    • Rolex owns the patent for this striking two-tone ceramic fabrication.

    • Rolex coats the index and numeral “wells” of the bezel with platinum.

    • Available from WatchBox with full Rolex boxes, papers, manuals.

    • This Rolex Batman retains virtually all of the Rolex factory warranty.

Rolex Batman GMT-Master II

The Rolex GMT-Master II has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years. While the GMT always commanded respect from Rolex owners, the real breakthrough since the mid-2000s has been the emerging buyer passion for the GMT-Master II.

Ceramic bezels, new movements, “super” cases, and hardcore nicknames like “Dark Knight” will do that for the Rolex Batman.

And speaking of the last, Rolex extended its winning streak and scored a smash-hit from out of the [black and] blue with the 2013 launch of the GMT-Master II 116710BLNR. Call it the “Dark Knight,” the “Rolex Batman,” or the “Black & Blue,” but this watch by any name is a timepiece of heroic stature.

Despite the myriad colors, materials, details, and features seen on GMT-Masters over the years, the use of black and blue on the same bezel marks a first for the GMT. A quick mental review of prior editions flashes past the mind’s eye when this surprising fact is broached, but it holds up under scrutiny. There’s very little that’s truly new in the evolutionary world of Rolex design, but the Dark Knight represents a rare exception to the rule.

And exceptional status is a major key to this GMT-Master II’s appeal.

When Rolex debuted the Cerachrom ceramic bezel technology in 2005, it did so on the GMT-Master II 116718. At the time, Rolex was among the first major watchmakers to issue ceramic bezels on sports watches, and it was accepted within the industry that high-quality ceramics simply were not compatible with colorful and two-tone combinations.

The 116710BLNR confounded the conventional wisdom about ceramic. Rolex developed and patented a production methodology that allows the first layer of blue ceramic to be deposited over the entire expanse of the bezel. A partial firing sets the material, but Rolex craftsmen remove the assembly before the blue ceramic has a chance to assume its final form.

While still granular and porous, the blue ceramic is impregnated with particles of the black ceramic and fired to completion.

After the cook-off is complete, Rolex coats the index and numeral “wells” of the bezel with platinum, and diamond tools are employed to polish the ceramic to a high-gloss finish. As with all Cerachrom ceramic, the finish is designed to be as tough as the sapphire crystal over the dial. Scratch and scuff resistance is outstanding, and the GMT-Master II “Rolex Batman” will retain its factory fresh face for years to come.

Unless you are, in fact, Batman, this ceramic may never pick up a permanent mark in the course of daily use.

Beyond the bezel, the 116710BLNR incorporates the winning formula that has made the current “six digit” GMT-Master II the most advanced and finely finished GMT to date.  The premium content starts with a high-gloss lacquered dial that provides an ideal complement to the gloss gleam of the bezel. In that vein, Rolex adds a blue GMT hand to keep the color scheme consistent.

18-karat white gold applied indexes and “Mercedes” cathedral hands provide an upscale finishing kit and safeguard against long-term corrosion.

When the current generation of the GMT-Master II case bowed in 2005, Rolex reinforced the wrist presence of its pilot watch without actually increasing the diameter of the case. In truth, the Geneva watchmaker walked a fine line between enlarging the case and maintaining the nominal diameter. Still the traditional 40mm at its narrowest points abreast of the bezel, the “super case” GMT wears and appears larger thanks to flared lugs, enlarged case shoulders, and massive crown protectors.

In short, the Rolex Batman features as much heft and visual impact as something like a Vacheron Constantin Overseas or Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 42mm, but the Rolex will continue to fit wrists reared on 40mm Oyster cases.

Within the enlarged GMT-Master II beats the Rolex caliber 3186. Also a child of the 2005 Rolex revolution, the 3186 features a Parachrom Blue Breguet overcoil hairspring. This technology, which melds the latest Rolex metallurgy with an innovation of 18th century watchmaker A.L. Breguet, presents robust defense against timing deviation due to shock, magnetism, and temperature variation.

Beyond the standout hairspring technology, Rolex incorporated refinements over the previous caliber 3185.

While that movement exhibited major stuttering and occasional movement of the local hour hand while setting the GMT hand, the 3186 permits precise dual-time setting with no interference between the separate hour indicators. Unlike the early GMT-Master references, which were single time zone watches with permanently coupled 12 and 24-hour hands, the hour indicators of the 116710BLNR can be set independently. By turning the bi-directional bezel, it is possible to read a third time zone at a glance.

Additional refinements include the COSC’s “Swiss Chronometer” certification. While this distinction has become standard in all Rolex automatic (“Perpetual”) movements, it is worth noting that every GMT-Master since the line’s 1955 debut has been certified as a chronometer.

While Rolex no longer offers the Jubilee bracelet as an option on the GMT-Master II, the latest version of the Oyster bracelet leaves nothing to be desired.

Like all modern Rolex Oyster series watches, the GMT’s bracelet incorporates Rolex’s proprietary 904L stainless steel. This blend, which is cast in Rolex’s in-house foundry, holds a finish better than the standard 316L grade employed by the watch industry at large.

And the owner of a Rolex Batman GMT-Master II “Dark Knight” will be grateful for this refinement. The alternating brushed and polished finish of the Oyster bracelet is a pleasure to admire. A milled Oysterclasp with Easylink tool-free adjustment feels like a small ingot of steel. When deployed, the Easylink permits 5mm of tool-free micro sizing.

This Rolex GMT-Master II 116710BLNR is available from WatchBox with full Rolex factory boxes, papers, manuals, and accessories.

Over a year has passed since the debut of this model, but overwhelming demand means that the watch has remained frustrating to locate. watchuwant.com has one, and with a purchase date of December 2014, this Rolex “Batman” retains virtually all of the Rolex factory warranty.

Undoubtedly, a Rolex GMT-Master II 116710BLNR by any other name would look just as sweet. But we don’t wear steel sports watches to be sweet. With a nickname that evokes the Caped Crusader, this Dark Knight is downright badass.