Bi-colour was a long time coming. Some say it still isn’t here, but I beg to differ. The combination of stainless steel and a precious metal has been back in business for a few years (or was it here all the time?) and I am heavily in love with it.
Actually, the first serious watch that I got 20 years ago was a bi-colour watch. Without any research on the internet or influenced by other enthusiasts, I picked this watch. Meaning that I just liked bi-colour already at that time. Now that I am past 40, I care little about the general consensus or what other people think of what I am wearing anyway. I can imagine that if you are in your early twenties, it is more important to care about what’s accepted and what’s not, but I couldn’t care less to be honest. As you get older, you become more secure about these things and you’ve pretty much developed your own style and taste for things. It’s part of maturing.
Now, I also know that this gold and bi-colour preference of watches is a cultural thing. Perhaps a bi-colour Rolex Submariner or GMT-Master was always widely accepted in Florida for example (from what I understand from Mike Stockton’s stories. I mean, it is also his watch pictured above here), but keep in mind that in conservative Europe, it is either stainless steel or white gold. Wearing a gold watch means you are either old or have a questionable profession. I think it is time to get rid of that bias and just wear what you like. In any case, I have been wearing gold watches on and off for the last few years and I feel pretty comfortable with it. Well, that’s still many words spent on something I just wrote I don’t care about. To cut a long story short, I was happily surprised to see Rolex introducing this wonderful combination of stainless steel and Everose gold for their GMT-Master II.
Here at Fratello, we refer to the full gold Rolex GMT-Master II as ‘The Derrick’ as it was the watch this ober-inspector wore in many of the TV shows he did. We covered that watch here. The gold and stainless steel version, often referred to as the ‘Root Beer’, ‘Tiger Auge’ or ‘Clint Eastwood’ (we covered this reference 16753 here) can be seen as the predecessor of this new Rolex GMT-Master II 126711CHNR. To start with the minor issue I have with this watch is that this new reference does not have a brown dial. Neither does the full Everose gold Rolex GMT-Master II version , but I just see this as a missed opportunity. It would have made them perfect pieces.
The new Rolex GMT-Master II in stainless steel and Everose gold is still a stunner though and luckily, the most famous watch brand from Geneve made sure that there was at least a touch of brown on the bezel. The brown ceramic bezel matches perfectly with the Everose gold, as you can see below.
The Everose material is Rolex’ own alloy of rose gold, making sure it will stay rose gold in colour over time. The regular rose gold alloy uses a (high) percentage of copper to obtain the rose or pink colour, but after a while, the gold will turn more yellow-ish again due to wear. With special alloys from watch manufacturers like Rolex, the colour is protected. Everything gold you see on this Rolex GMT-Master II is 18-carat Everose gold. The stainless steel is made of grade 904L steel.
The Cerachrom bezel, a special process to combine the (Everose) gold with ceramics, has a 24-hour scale in order to indicate day/night and can be rotated to set the timezone. The independent hour hand indicates local time, while the sleek gold arrowed hand is for home time. When it points to a numeral on the brown side of the bezel, this indicates that home time is daytime while the black part indicates night time. It is one of the most convenient GMT watches and I actually regret selling my 2005 reference 16710 that basically worked in the same way.
Despite the case size of 40mm in diameter, it wears a bit bigger and as comfortable as any other sports Rolex. Inside you’ll find the Rolex calibre 3285 ticking at 28,800vph. Put it against your ear and you’ll hear the high beat twinkle. It’s rock solid movement that is not only chronometer certified, it is also warranted to do even better than that (-4/+6 seconds) and it runs -2/+2 seconds a day on average, after casing.
Winding and setting the watch is easy with the large crown, which also has the Triplock technology onboard like the Submariner watches have as well. This technology ensures better water resistance and can be recognized by the three dots on the crown. Despite the Triplock, the GMT-Master II has a water resistance of 100 meters (or 10 bar), but that is probably enough for most of us.
The Oyster bracelet just comes with one disadvantage, the gold centre links are scratch magnets. However, the all stainless steel Oyster bracelet on the GMT-Master II is also bound to get scratches within the first hours of wear, of course. It is just something you shouldn’t worry about too much. The good news is that gold is relatively soft and with each service interval you will get it back like new without too many problems. You can also have the centre links polished outside the advised service intervals, but just make sure you only have the gold centre links done, not the stainless steel parts. What’s gone is gone, with steel. Gold is easier to work on, or have fixed at a later stage.
As you can see above, the Oyster bracelet has the folding Oysterlock clasp. The stainless steel is also grade 904L like the case. The Everose gold can also be found on the clasp and the flip lock. The clasp has an ‘Easylink’ system, where you can extend the bracelet by up to 5mm. The fine-adjust system is very useful when wearing the watch especially during hot summer days when the circumference of my wrist is different in the evening than in the morning. Then, it is very comfortable to adjust the bracelet without having to use toothpicks, screwdrivers and so on.
Even while typing this article I am wearing a bi-colour sports watch and I have to add that the older GMT-Master II 16753, the later 16713 and even the 116713LN are very persuasive to add to my modest collection. Until now, I have only had all steel 1675 and 16710 GMT-Master watches in my collection. But Midas has gotten to me and I need to spice it up with some gold. Before I will share some final thoughts with you on this new GMT-Master II 126711CHNR, let’s quickly run through the bi-colour GMT-Master timeline.
The bi-colour GMT-Master goes back to 1970/1971, when the reference 1675 became available in a combination of steel and yellow gold and was available with a bi-colour Oyster or Jubilee bracelet. Around 1975, the reference number received a new designator, 1675/3, where ‘3’ stands for ‘yellow Rolesor’. Rolesor is Rolex’ own indicator for two metals. This watch was in production until about 1980. In 1979/1980, Rolex introduced its successor, the reference 16753, in production till 1988. This reference had a printed coronet on the dial a new movement (3075) and a quickset date. In 1989, the reference 16713 was introduced. This was the first Rolex GMT-Master II in bi-colour, where the hour hand could be set separately due to the use of the new calibre 3185 movement. Up to this point, these watches were still available with either black or brown dials. Then, in 2006, some drastic changes were made: the introduction of ceramic and a new case design with bigger lugs. The gold and steel GMT-Master II reference 116713LN was born and is a watch that is still in production today. This article’s new Rolex GMT-Master II 126711CHNR is just added as an ‘Everose’ option. The yellow gold Rolesor 116713LN was not updated with the new calibre 3285 movement for example, so that is probably bound to happen at some point.
You wouldn’t say so (I wouldn’t at least), but what all these bi-colour GMT-Master (II) watches have in common, is the case diameter. From the 1675(/3) until today’s 116713LN and 126711CHNR, they all measure 40mm in diameter. The newer models, of course, do wear a bit bigger due to the thicker case and of course the new style lugs. Bracelets have become solid over time, so the modern GMT-Master II watch wears heavier as well. If the gold, pink or yellow, is too much for you, then all the mentioned GMT-Master models are available in steel as well. But if you, like me, are bitten by this bi-colour bug, then there is no turning back it seems. I have been looking to add one of these Rolesor watches for a long time now, and with the GMT-master II 126711CHNR it has become even harder to resist.
What I don’t hope, and don’t think to be honest, is that this GMT-Master II 126711CHNR is going to have the same fate as the stainless steel GMT-Master II models. The Batman, the all black version and about any other stainless steel sports Rolex is simply not available at authorized dealers. Rolex had no official answer to this, but it seems they either decreased production or have a new strategy in not stocking their authorized dealer or at least not here in Europe. According to the [authorized] dealers I asked, it was because the demand is incredibly high and Rolex doesn’t increase production because of this. It seems like a move against the grey market to me in all honesty: getting a better grip on what is being sold and making sure it is not to grey market dealers. The Rolex letter that is is in circulation where they are reinforcing dealers to sell only to end consumers, remove all protective stickers and not leave the warranty card blank is a clear give-away. It is good that Rolex fights the grey market, but it also results in difficulties buying a watch from them this way. However, I have good hopes that the gold and steel sports watches will continue to be somewhat easier to purchase as the demand is a bit lower on these than for the all stainless steel models.
Having that said, the Rolex GMT-Master II 126711CHNR is definitely high on my wish list. The retail price of the watch is €13.000,- (including 21% sales taxes in my market). In comparison, the 116713LN has a retail price of €12.050,-. For the difference, you basically get the newer Rolex movement and Everose gold. You can’t go wrong with both, or one of the vintage models, but the 126711CHNR is definitely my choice.
More information via Rolex on-line.
Ever since he was a young child, Robert-Jan was drawn to watches, even though it were digital Casio and quartz Swatch models at the time. In the mid-1990s, his interest increased when he started to read about mechanical watches in... read more