Rolex GMT-Master II – 116710 BLNR Review

by Chamath Gamage
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Sitting in the mid-range of Rolex’s collection, the Rolex GMT-Master II 116710 BLNR is a favourite among watch enthusiasts. There are few other models within the GMT Master II range, all with close similarities to the 116710 BLNR. What sets them apart is the two-tone color schemes of the Bezel and also gold, rose-gold and bracelet variations. 

The GMT-Master II – 116710 BLNR is a previous generation model as Rolex has released a new GMT-Master II (126710 BLNR). There are some differences between the two models such as the new 126710 BLNR gets an updated movement along with a new jubilee bracelet. Watchadvice will review the 126710 BLNR at a later stage.

To describe the GMT-Master II BLNR , it’s good to understand its beginnings. The very first Rolex GMT-Master was actually designed in partnership with Pan American Airways. Pan American Airways wanted to give the GMT-Master models to its pilots and crew to be able to use on those long flights. If you don’t know already, the GMT in the model name stands for Greenwich Mean Time which is translated to mean solar time. The personnel on the Pan American flights could use the GMT hand on the Rolex to set the time to GMT or even another time zone. Then using the rotatable 24hr Bezel and setting it to the correct offset, they can use it to read a second time zone. The main theory behind Pan American Airways giving this timepiece to its personnel was so that they could keep track of not only the current time zone but also the time in their home time zone. They theorized that by doing this they could essentially lessen the effects of Jet–lag that the pilots and crew endure.  

The current GMT-Master II started its production in 1980 with the main changes from the original model being the movement and its capability to use an adjustable hour hand, which can be altered to the local time zone. This can be done without the need to stop any of the other movements such as the seconds, minutes or 24 hour GMT hand, which is quite impressive. 

Moving onto the design schematics of the 116710 BLNR, it has a beautiful striking pose thanks to its Cerachrome blue and black ceramic Bezel. The GMT hand is color coded blue as well to stay with the theme. The dial itself has the characteristic face of a Rolex timepiece. The circular hour markers, large 3pm magnified “Cyclops” date window and 3-pointed Hour hand all come together nicely on the clean back dial to showcase a beautiful piece. The Cyclops date window is a patented Rolex innovation which was purely design to enhance the date window so it’s more easily readable. The fact that all this is made by Rolex in-house largely by hand makes it all the more remarkable.   

Rolex has even specifically designed a type of steel called “Oystersteel” to use for its steel watch cases. Belonging to the 904 steel family, Oystersteel is a super alloy that is extremely resistant to corrosion while also offering a superior finish when polished. Along with the watch case, Rolex has also opted to use Oystersteel for the watch bracelet. The bracelet comes with what Rolex call a “Oysterlock” clasp, which can prevent the clasp opening accidentally once worn. 

The movement behind the 116710 BLNR is a caliber 3186. Based on 3135 Rolex movement, the Calibre 3186 adds in the GMT module and has been powering the GMT-Master II models since 2005. However, it’s important to note that as of 2018, Rolex has now incorporated a new Calibre 3285 movement into its GMT-Master II models. Therefore, depending on which model year you have your eye on, the movement could be slightly different. We will be reviewing the new 3285 movement in the updated Rolex GMT-Master II 126710 BLRO “Pepsi” edition.

The 3186 movement is able to wind in both directions, includes a perpetual rotor and has a power-reserve of approximately 48 hours. It is also equipped with what Rolex states is a “Parachrom” hairspring, which allows the watch to have much greater resistance to shocks, vibrations and temperature changes. The accuracy of the movement is to within -2/+2 seconds per day. As with all Rolex perpetual movements, the 3186 Calibre comes certified as a Swiss chronometer. If you may not know, this certification is for watches that have passed the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) tests.

How does the Rolex Submariner 116710 BLNR wear?

The distinctive Rolex dial with the blue and black combo combined with Oyster bracelet makes this watch wearable for almost any occasion. It’s classy enough to be able to wear to formal events due to the uncluttered dial and bracelet. With a thickness of 12mm it’s great to wear outdoors as it’s not chunky and overly exposed. On a 7-inch wrist, the watch sits well without the lugs sticking out. Unlike other variants of the GMT-Master II models, the blue is not intrusive enough to distract the overall appearance and make it stand out. The bezel however does give it a slightly sporty look and this means it can be used for casual wear quite nicely.  

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