Rolex trickles out new watches each year with major innovations being released with relative rarity. Part of 2013 is about extending the Rolex GMT Master II watch by adding a new two-tone bezel (Ref. 116710BLNR) in the spirit of the famous Rolex GMT Master II Pepsi dial watches. The half-red and half-blue bezels of the past were used as day/night indicators for the GMT scale bezel. The look became iconic. aBlogtoWatch debuted the Rolex GMT Master II Day/Night watch to the world here recently (where you can find additional information).
For 2013, Rolex honors this classic look with a blue and black versus blue and red bezel - and this time it is in ceramic. Technically, the new ceramic Rolex bezel is impressive. You have a single piece ceramic insert produced in-house by Rolex that incorporates two colors. Rolex says that they use a patented process to produce the two colors. Speaking with Rolex they said that the bezel actually begins blue, and then somehow black is added later. The result is a perfect transition from one color to another.
Under a loupe I was able to see that the line between black and blue is perfect without any fuzziness or bleeding. Even if there was any color bleeding, most people wouldn't notice, but this is part of Rolex's rather famous attention to crisp details. The older bezels were produced from aluminum which could be printed. Though, aluminum bezel inserts are prone to wearing and scratching easily. Ceramic is clearly a better material and it is great to see Rolex finally releasing, in product form, some of the many processes and techniques that it has developed.
To compliment the rich blue tone of the bezel, Rolex uses a matching blue color for the length of the GMT hand on the dial. The result is a new looking Rolex GMT Master II that is a worthy addition to the product family. No, it isn't a revolutionary addition or change, but it does represent a new technology showing the know-how of Rolex, and offers a new, very good looking option to those who have not yet had a reason to include a Rolex GMT Master II into their collection. At this point Rolex has offered watches with ceramic colors in black, green, blue, and brown. What will be next?
Choosing between the Rolex GMT Master II and Submariner can be a difficult choice. Both watches are 40mm wide, with similar dials and cases. In many ways their prices overlap, and this new ref. 116710BLNR GMT Master II watch is about 550 Swiss Francs more than the Submariner Date ref. 116610LN (reviewed here). According to Rolex, the price premium for the new two-tone black and blue bezel is about 1,000 Swiss Francs (CHF) more than the standard ceramic bezel. The GMT of course has a second timezone (third if you count the rotating GMT scale on the bezel), while the Submariner has greater water resistance and the fantastic Glidelock deployant system on the bracelet. Choosing this new GMT Master II or Submariner Date can be a tough decision if you can only choose one.
There are minor differences between the Submariner and the Rolex GMT Master II, and I will not spell them all out here. However, another difference is the polish on the bracelet. The Rolex GMT Master II has a polished center link, and the Submariner has a fully brushed steel case. Both watches have magnifier lenses over the date on the sapphire crystal, ceramic bezels, COSC Chronometer certified in-house made automatic movements by Rolex, as well as almost identical dials (save for the extra hand on the GMT)
Rolex makes a small assortment of very desirable sport watches that can double as dress watches. My tops pics are the Submariner and this new Rolex GMT Master II. While the ref. 116710BLNR Rolex GMT Master II doesn't feel like a totally "new" watch, it has a novel feature for Rolex and is still a great looking timepiece that stole the hearts of many at the Baselworld 2013 watch show. Price is 8,500 CHF (Swiss Francs), which is about $9,150. rolex.com