March 23, 2018
by Kenny Yeo
It has taken five long years, but Rolex has finally given us a stainless steel GMT-Master II with a red and blue Pepsi Cerachrom bezel. Along with that, Rolex also gave us two new GMT-Master II watches with black and brown bezels that, in my opinion, are more important and newsworthy. This is your hands-on report of the new Rolex GMT-Master II Reference 126711CHNR “Root Beer.”
The new GMT-Master II Reference 126711CHNR is noteworthy for a couple of reasons. To begin, this is the first time Rolex has used Everose gold for the GMT-Master II. Additionally, this is the also the first time that Rolex has produced a black and brown Cerachrom bezel. The overall results are quite stunning, but more on this later, let’s talk about the specifications of the watch.
The case has been slightly redesigned on the flanks and on the lugs to allow Rolex to optimize the polishing process. Rolex says the lugs are sharper and the case sides are brighter, but I think most people will have to squint to tell the difference. Case diameter remains at 40mm and water resistance, thanks to the Triplock crown, is also unchanged at 100m.
The Reference 126711CHNR comes with an Oyster-style bracelet with polished center links made out of Everose gold and brushed side links made out stainless steel. It is well crafted and is equipped with the familiar Oysterlock folding clasp and Easylink extension. The Easylink extension is a brilliant contraption that lets owners quickly expand the bracelet by around 5mm. This is a lifesaver, especially if you happen to live somewhere that has a tropical climate.
The highlight of the case is the black and brown bi-color bezel. Like the black and blue bezel of the Reference 116710BLNR from 2013, the bezel has to be seen in the flesh to be properly appreciated. Unlike the Pepsi Cerachrom bezel, which is unmistakably blue and red. The brown and black “Root Beer” bezel is more dynamic. Under direct light, the brown section of the bezel pops and appears almost like honey, and this complements the Rolesor bracelet very well. Under dimmer conditions, the brown section appears more subdued and almost blends with the black section of the bezel. This makes the Reference 126711CHNR more interesting to look at and wear.
The other thing that makes this reference unique is its dial. The dial is black but it distinguishes itself with its 18k gold hour markers and hands. Even the GMT-Master II wording at 6 o’clock is in gold. Overall, the look reminds me of the gilt dials of vintage Rolexes. This makes the Reference 126711CHNR special among the other GMTs as they have white gold markers and hands. More importantly, the gold markers and hands when combined with the black and brown bezel and Everose case and bracelet, give the Reference 126711CHNR a very warm look and feel to it. It almost makes you feel fuzzy inside.
There’s an equally big change inside the watch. Gone is the good old Calibre 3186 and in its place is the new Calibre 3285. This new movement features Rolex’s new Chronergy escapement and a much longer and practical power reserve of 70 hours. This means you can put the Reference 126711CHNR away on Friday night and it will still be running when you strap it on Monday morning. It also meets Rolex’s new ‘Superlative Chronometer’ testing, and so it is accurate to ±2 seconds a day and comes with a 5-year long warranty. Like any true GMT watch, the hour hands can be set independently as you travel across time zones without affecting timekeeping.
So, before you run out and put your name down for that new stainless steel ‘Pepsi’ GMT-Master II, take a moment to compose yourself and think about the new Reference 126711CHNR. As I have explained above, it is, in many ways, more special than the new stainless steel Pepsi GMT that everyone can’t seem to stop talking about. The Rolex GMT-Master II Reference 126711CHNR is priced at $14,050. rolex.com