Today we’re taking an in-depth look at the 2019 Rolex GMT-Master II Batman 126710BLNR.
Released earlier this year at Baselworld as part of the brand’s 2019 collection, the ‘new’ BLNR featured several updates and replaced the previous reference 116710BLNR, iconically known as ‘the Batman’. This new reference was quickly nicknamed the ‘Batgirl’, a term I don’t particularly like. Names aside, the reference 126710 was an instant hit leveraging its predecessor’s insatiable demand. The result of this incredible demand is very long waitlists – so if you ever get ‘the call’ – I suggest you answer, you won’t regret it!
In case you thought Batman was just a DC character, this, Batman has been a highly desirable watch since the reference 116710BLNR was released way back in 2013.
But let’s rewind a little further. The evolution of Rolexes iconic GMT-Master II collection has been interesting and potentially underappreciated. In 2005, Rolex debuted their Cerachrom (often referred to as Ceramic), on the Yellow Gold GMT-Master II (black dial, black bezel). Then, in 2007, Rolex released the Steel GMT-Master II reference 116710LN (the ‘Noir’), which featured an all-black cerachrom bezel. The Noir was arguably (or at least by Rolex standards) underrated until it’s discontinuation earlier this year. So, when the steel bi-coloured Batman (reference 116710BLNR) was released in 2013 – it caused a splash of excitement, which is yet to settle. One might even argue that the resulting fame had an even more significant influence on the popularity of GMT models across the industry.
With that history lesson out of the way, we’ll now explore the newly updated BLNR.
It’s more than just a bracelet change. Those who enjoy watches on a bracelet will know just how important a good bracelet is the enjoyability and comfort of a watch. Let me tell you, the bracelet is my favourite thing about the BLNR, from both aesthetics and comfort. Comfort aside, the BLNR is a striking watch, which borders on dressy.
Functionally speaking, having owned watches with a GMT function, I’ll be the first to admit that I never actually used them. But – this time I decided to change that and put my second timezone to use. I have to say – it’s come in handy, even in this digital age. I also love the 70-hour power reserve, a lot.
The dial and hands
The dial is relatively straightforward. It’s everything we’ve come to expect from Rolex – clean, simple and perfectly proportioned. As far as the hands go, the BLNR features an additional 24-hour hand, with a blue lacquer stem and a triangle tip. The handset is crafted from 18 ct white gold, and features Rolexes Chromalight lume – which when ‘charged’, omits a blue glow.
Continuing on from the backstory above… Without a doubt, the BLNR’s Bi-colour Cerachrom insert is this model’s most famous feature, earning it the Batman nickname when it was first released. The blue and black insert is quite fascinating, and the colours rather dynamic. At times the blue half is dark navy, and at others teetering on purple. The black half varies from midnight black to a matt grey – depending on the light. It’s subtle changes like these which keep collectors coming back, and add to the intrigue of ownership, rewarding the wearer with different perspectives as their environment changes.
Achieving two colours in one Cerachrom bezel insert is also technically quite difficult, and I can’t imagine Rolex sharing this proprietary process any time soon.
Made from Oystersteel, the case is 40mm in diameter, and 12.5mm in height, the proportions are absolutely spot on for me and what I like. The lugs, like the ‘Pepsi’, are now slightly shorter, and taper in ever-so-slightly, to accommodate the new end links of the Jubilee bracelet. Interestingly, the lug holes sit slightly further back, allowing the end links to disappear under the bezel.
The Oysterclasp allows for 5mm of adjustment, for those warmer days. The BLNR also features a Safety Clasp, locking the bracelet into place, and adding a sense of security and extra peace of mind.
One question I often get asked is, like other Jubilee style bracelets, is – do the links pinch your arm hair? In my experience, no, and I have a theory as to why. The way Rolex has spaced out the links, means they don’t rub or touch. Not only is this good increasing the longevity of the bracelet by reducing ‘bracelet stretch’ (a result of the links rubbing together over time, and eventually loosening) – but it also prevents arm hair from catching.
In terms of comfortability, I’ve tried more bracelets than I can name, and have owned my share of various Rolex Oyster bracelets, modern and otherwise. What I will say is that the Jubilee is ultra-comfortable, both in the way it drapes around the wearer’s wrist and the accompanying weight reduction.
Lastly, the five-piece link Jubilee bracelet features a combination of brushed outer links and polished centre links. This continues onto the clasp of the watch. To me, the contrasting of brushed and polished is eye-catching, without being too in-your-face. The balance is fascinating and makes taking photos of the watch quite delightful.
Powering the 1216710 is Rolexes latest calibre 3285 Movement (released in 2018), which boasts a 70-hour power reserve. This now puts the BLNR on-spec with the other GMT-Master II ‘Pepsi’. This movement is quite impressive, mainly because of the extended power-reserve, achieved with the help of Rolexes Chronergy escapement. This new escapement has allowed for significant efficiency gains, and therefore a longer power-reserve.
What would I change?
The polished centre links – but not really. I’ve previously not owned such a highly polished watch, and getting used to watching these finishes scuff up over time has been an interesting experience. I think most who own a watch like the BLNR will agree that these polished centre links are a polarising feature.
Overall, the BLNR is a functional, well proportioned and handsome watch. It strikes a balance between sporty and elegant.