The Rolex watch community possesses a powerful skill in nicknaming Rolex’s most popular watches. There’s Rolex watches named after beverages (i.e. Pepsi, Root Beer and Coke), cartoon characters (i.e. Kermit and Smurf), our personal favorite, superheroes (i.e. Hulk and Batman), and more. The nicknames, of which we only named a few, take serious watches made of the highest quality materials and puts a fun twist on Rolex’s official names, which consists of the model, configuration number, and color or material abbreviation. The unique nicknames make collecting even more appealing. It makes it lively. It gives the watches life. There’s no denying, people love it.
The feature of today is the Batman Rolex, known formally as the Rolex GMT-Master II reference 116710BLNR (old version) and reference 126710BLNR (new version). We are about to enter into Gotham City’s most famous bat cave so we can explore all of the strength, intellect, wealth, skills and technology that the Dark Knight of watches boasts.
From the history of the GMT and its functions to the birth of the Batman and its new successor which some are calling the “Batgirl”, you are going to learn everything you need to know about one of the most iconic superhero watches in the world, the Rolex Batman GMT-Master II.
WHAT IS A BATMAN ROLEX?
The Rolex Batman is a GMT-Master II watch nicknamed for its blue and black bezel. There are currently two Batman Rolex watch references. The first one was released in 2013, it was GMT-Master II reference 116710BLNR. Reference 116710BLNR was discontinued in 2019 and replaced by its successor reference 126710BLNR, which is still in production today. While both watches are Rolex Batman’s and overall they share the same DNA, there are some differences to note. We will explained all of the changes to the Batman model further below.
The “BLNR” in the GMT-Master II’s reference number lets you know it is “Batman”. The BL stands for ‘Bleu’ and the NR stands for Noir, which means blue and black in French.
Other names given by watch collectors for the Rolex Batman are “The Dark Knight” and the “Bruiser”. Moreover, some people refer to the new Batman as the “Batgirl”, due to its use of a more delicate bracelet, the Jubilee bracelet. However, most people simply call it the new Batman.
But, before we get into the specifics of the Rolex Batman, let’s take a little history lesson on the GMT-Master collection as a whole.
HISTORY OF THE GMT-MASTER LEADING UP TO THE ROLEX BATMAN
The Rolex GMT-Master collection didn’t always have Bruce Wayne’s secret identity in the mix. In fact, the Batman Rolex came more than five decades after the inception of the GMT-Master.
The concept of the GMT-Master dates back to when the flight industry took off in the 1940s. Pilots and aircrew needed a reliable timing device that, ideally, could tell the time of two time zones simultaneously. Actually, they didn’t even know they needed this exactly at the time, but some years later, Rolex, in collaboration with Pan Am Airway, came up with the idea, and thus the Rolex GMT-Master was created.
Not only did Rolex solve the timekeeping problem for pilots, they made it simple and stylish.
The First GMT-Master
The first Rolex GMT-Master was reference 6542. It was essentially a Rolex Turn-O-Graph (ref 6202), a model created two years prior, but it had an additional hand for the second time zone, which was indicated on the bezel.
The first GMT-Master was a Rolex Pepsi (although it was yet to be nicknamed as such). It had a blue and red luminous bakelite bezel.
There was only one issue, the bezel broke too easily. So, in 1956, Rolex replaced it with an aluminum bezel insert.
Versions of the GMT Master
Over the years, Rolex has produced various versions of the GMT Master. Some of the best known ones are the Rolex Coke, Rolex Root Beer (you are seeing a fizzy theme here, right?), and of course, various references of the Pepsi.
Note: The original Rolex GMT-Master with the bakelite bezel is also nicknamed “Pussy Galore” in honor of it being worn by Blackman in the James Bond film ‘Goldfinger’ in 1964.
Fun Fact: The most famous of all GMT-Master watches is the classic Pepsi (BLRO). However, the rarest goes to the white dialed 6542. There were only 200 ever made, as they were specifically for Pan Am executives in the late 1950s.
The GMT Master officially started with the reference 6542, then there was the 1675, which ran from 1959 to 1980 and is still the longest running reference in the GMT Master’s history. The 1675 also saw the introduction of the all black bezel GMT-Master, which came in 1972.
From there, in 1981, Rolex put out the GMT-Master 16750 and GMT-Master 16758. These references had a relatively short production run, discontinuing in 1988.
With each new reference came upgrades in movement technology. As one would only expect.
For much of the GMT-Master’s life, customers had the option between gold and steel, and various bezel color options as we’ve mentioned above. Moreover, GMT-Master watches came with leather, Oyster and Jubilee bracelets depending on the exact reference and design configuration.
The first GMT-Master II was released in 1983. It was reference 16760, aka, The Fat Lady. It was a more robust version and it had a rotating bezel so wearers could track not two, but three timezones simultaneously! Needless to say, this feature was kept on all future GMT-Master II watches.
Even though Rolex unveiled the GMT-Master II in the 80s, they continued to produce GMT-Master watches until the late 90s/early 2000s, in the form of reference 16700.
The GMT-Master II reference 16710 had a production run from 1989 to 2007. It was available with a red and blue bezel (Pepsi), red and black bezel (Coke), and the all black bezel.
The 16710 saw a lot of iterations over the course of its production period. It started off with tritium for the dial’s lume, but was later replaced by SuperLumiNova. The bracelet went from hollow end-links to solid end-links as well. And the pin-holes in the lugs of the case disappeared for a more seamless look.
The one thing that didn’t change was the movement, calibre 3186.
Things got very interesting in 2008 with the introduction of GMT-Master II references 116710LN (steel) and and 116713LN (two tone Rolesor). The aluminum bezel that was used for 51 years was replaced by the highly advanced Rolex-proprietary ceramic bezel.
But here’s the thing, Rolex was only able to produce the ceramic bezel in black, hence the LN, which stands for Lunette Noir (‘black’ in French).
Of course, the watches saw some other upgrades such as the Easy-Link system for the bracelet, but let’s talk in-depth about the ceramic bezel and the problem with making one with a half-and-half two-tone color like the GMT Master’s most famous watches of the past.
The Development of the Two-Tone Ceramic Bezel
From 1959 to 2007, Rolex GMT-Master’s had an aluminum bezel that got their colors by an anodizing process.
However, the new zirconium oxide ceramic bezel (Patented by Rolex as a Cerachrom bezel) wasn’t so simple to create with color. At first, two-tone versions of the ceramic bezel were seemingly impossible to create. But, Rolex didn’t give up.
Rolex was able to develop (and patent) a process that added metallic salt on half the bezel before heat treatment in a kiln. The colors were finalized by sintering the bezel in a kiln at 1,600 degrees Celsius for 24 hours.
However, this didn’t completely solve the problem. They were only able to create a two-tone bezel in certain colors, hence the birth of the ROLEX BATMAN, a never before seen bezel combination.
While Rolex was still unable to produce a ceramic bezel in a two-tone color that included red, they were able to produce the ceramic bezel in a beautiful two-tone blue and black.
In 2013, they introduced the first ever GMT-Master with a black and blue bezel. It was the GMT-Master II reference 116710BLNR. The response from the world was exceptional and it was almost instantly nicknamed the Rolex Batman.
Not only was the Batman the first ever black and blue bezel Rolex, but it was also the first ceramic bezel that used two colors.
The people now had both the functionality of the ceramic bezel (scratch-proof, fade-proof and virtually indestructible), but it also had the aesthetics we all desire in a GMT-Master watch.
But what a lot of people don’t know is, the black and blue color actually has meaning behind it.
Night and Day
The blue and black color combination was not just for show, it represented functionality as well. The blue represents day time (AM), while the black represents night time (PM) for the GMT time zone.
Rolex GMT-Master II Pepsi
Even with the success of the GMT-Master II Batman, Rolex still didn’t give up on the classic Pepsi color combination. After more research and development, Rolex was able to produce a rich red color for the ceramic bezel. The Rolex GMT-Master II “Pepsi” reference 116719BLRO (white gold) was released just one year after the Rolex Batman. There are now both steel and white gold versions thanks to the release of the new Pepsi Rolex 126710BLRO in stainless steel.
THE ROLEX BATMAN (REF 116710BLNR VS THE NEW REF 126710BLNR)
As of writing this, there are two Rolex Batman references. The original Rolex Batman, reference 116710BLNR, was discontinued in 2019 for the new Batman, reference 126710BLNR. While the watches have the same general style and theme, there are some notable differences. But, let’s start with what’s the same.
Both the new and the old Batman have 40mm cases, as do past generations of the GMT-Master. The cases also have the same thickness at 12.5mm.
As for the iconic blue and black ceramic bezel, that is also identical. What’s more, the Maxi dial is exactly the same, with one exception – the new Batman has a Rolex crown between the “Swiss” and “Made” at the bottom. This means the new Batman, reference 126710BLNR, has a new generation movement.
Calibre 3186 vs Calibre 3285
The calibre 3186 found in the old Rolex Batman was a workhorse, through and through, but the calibre 3285 in the new Batman is undoubtedly better and more advanced. It offers a more efficient escapement and gear train, as well as a new variable-inertia balance wheel. It also has improved magnetic resistance and shock resistance.
Overall, the new calibre 3285 improves all of the core virtues you’d want from a mechanical movement – accuracy, longevity, and robustness.
However, the greatest benefit to the wearer is the power reserve. The calibre 3186 had 50 hours of power reserve. The new calibre 3285 boosts that up to 70 hours. This is mainly due to a more efficient Chronoenergy escapement.
Oyster vs Jubilee Bracelet
In terms of design, the bracelet was essentially the only change, and it is a big one. It gives the watch a major makeover. After all, the bracelet makes up a large portion of the wrist presence.
The change from the Oyster bracelet to the more delicate looking Jubilee bracelet was significant enough that some people started calling the new Batman the Batgirl. This nickname has a positive connotation, if you are wondering. Men and women alike gave positive reviews. It’s just different. Whether you like it or not comes down to personal preference. However, Rolex no longer makes GMT-Master II watches with Oyster bracelets. So, what you like really doesn’t matter if you want one brand new. Who knows if they will use the Oyster bracelet on the GMT-Master II’s again someday, but as of now, they are not.
Can you switch the bracelet on the GMT-Master II Batman?
If for some reason you don’t like the more mature 5-link Jubilee bracelet, you will have to find yourself an old Batman because Rolex says the bracelets can not be switched. The lugs have been redesigned specifically for the Jubilee.
Note: The new Batman has slightly slimmer lugs due to this change to the Jubilee bracelet, which many say gives it a more refined look. Besides that, there are no other design changes.
ROLEX BATMAN NEW VS OLD, WHICH IS BETTER?
Technically speaking, the new Rolex Batman reference 126710BLNR is superior to the old Batman. However, in terms of design, that comes down to personal opinion. Some people like the more refined and mature look of the new Batman, while others like the slightly more robust, sportier appearance of the old Rolex Batman.
In our professional opinion, the old Rolex Batman is somewhat more historical, and even more collectible, in that it was the first one ever. So, as a collector, that might be appealing. That said, if you want the watch with the best specs, it is the new Rolex Batman without question.
Up to you…
In any case, you are going to have to turn the secondary market to buy either one. It goes without saying, the old Rolex Batman GMT-Master 116710BLNR is discontinued so you have no choice but to buy one on the second hand market. With the new Rolex Batman, waiting lists are very long. Therefore, unless you get super lucky, you are going to have to look to the secondary market to get one without waiting however many years your Rolex dealer tells you.
ROLEX BATMAN PRICE
The suggested MSRP price for the Rolex GMT-Master II 126710BLNR is $10,750. As for the old Batman Rolex, reference 116710BLNR, you obviously can’t get one new anymore.
In terms of Rolex Batman secondary prices, the new Batman is actually selling for more, which would suggest it is more collectible than the old Rolex Batman (yes, this goes against our point above about the old one being more collectible, but only time will tell).
DIAMONDS BY RAYMOND LEE IN BOCA RATON – WE HAVE BOTH THE NEW AND OLD BATMAN ROLEX FOR SALE!
Diamonds By Raymond Lee is Boca Raton’s premier seller of pre-owned Rolex watches. We have one of the largest collections of Rolex watches in all of South Florida, and as such, we have many GMT-Master watches, such as the Rolex Pepsi (various references) and both the new and old Rolex Batman.
You can see the full sales listing for both the new and old Batman Rolex by following the links below. Both watches can be bought online on our website or in person at our state-of-the-art showroom in East Boca.
Showroom Location: 2801 N Federal Hwy, Boca Raton, FL 33431