Rolex GMT-Master II BLNR
Christmas Eve, 1995, and every kid in the land was lying awake, wide-eyed and excited, imagining various scenarios that all involved unwrapping the newly launched Playstation. Most of those kids went on to experience a euphoric Christmas day, whilst the remaining few suffered at the hands of well meaning, but ultimately confused parents. There were no Playstations for those children, only a 16-bit game bundle that was similar enough to confuse the unwitting progenitor.
Rolex seems to be that proverbial well-meaning parent, listening to the wants of the people who look up to it, but not quite delivering. Last year, watch enthusiasts begged for a two-tone GMT-Master II, and Rolex said it couldn't be done. This year, Rolex finally cracked it, and the two-tone 116710BLNR was unveiled. Wait a minute, BLNR? Doesn't mean bleu and noir? It does, and there were many blank expressions when the new bezel was seen for the first time. Where was the red and blue? Red and black, even? What were Rolex doing?
In actuality, the blue and black ceramic compliment each other very nicely, despite being in direct breach of one of fashion's oft-repeated rules. The deep gloss and rich colour give enough differentiation between the two shades, and like the black—which features on previous Rolex models—the blue varies in tone dramatically under changing light in a very pleasing way. The blue carries over to the GMT hand too, but surprisingly not to the text like the original ceramic GMT-Master II.
Nothing has changed inside, the Parachrom hairspring-equipped calibre 3186 doing duty in the engine room. The usual Rolex luxuries abound, smooth setting and silent winding amongst them, and the reassuring fit and finish continues externally too, the bezel clicking solidly and the finishing micron-perfect. Where the money really seems to have gone (and let's face it, you need a lot of it to join the Rolex owners' club these days) is in the clasp, which is cleverly designed and beautifully assembled, and puts the 'rattly' Rolex bracelet complaints to bed once and for all. There's even an easily expandable half-link for those hot days when the watch would normally be getting a bit tight.
Perhaps I've misjudged Rolex. Perhaps, like a parent would with a teenager that doesn't understand the difference between what they think is right and what is actually right, Rolex have taken an executive decision that is, well—right. The Swiss giant has already shown that it's all about moving forward, leaving some incredibly popular designs behind to try new ones, so why would they hang on to a red and blue past instead of doing something new? Or maybe—the new bezel being made entirely blue and the black half being dyed before the material sets—they just couldn't work out how to make a red and blue one—who knows. Whatever the reason, there is one thing I know for certain—I still want the Playstation.
Watch Spec | Rolex GMT Master II
Case: 904L steel Dimensions: 40mm dia, 12mm thick Crystal: Synthetic sapphire Water Resistance: 100m Movement: Cal. 3186, automatic Frequency: 28,800 vph Power Reserve: 48 hours Strap: 904L steel Functions: Time, date, GMT hand, 24hr bezel | Shop Now