Feature: We Fixed The Rolex GMT-Master BLRO
The Rolex GMT-Master II 126710BLRO is undoubtedly one of the best and most desirable watches of today—just try and buy one new if you don’t believe me—but aside from its scarcity, there’s a single complaint owners have had that stands out as a tiny blemish on an otherwise perfect watch: the bezel, or to be more specific, the colour of the bezel. Well, we’re going to try and fix it.
It all goes back to 2005, when Rolex made a move that, whilst comparatively tame, was a pretty big deal: the introduction of the ceramic bezel. Since forever, Rolex had stuck to tried and true anodised aluminium, even in the face of an industry shift to the harder, shinier, longer-lasting ceramic. When it finally happened, it was with the GMT-Master II, the gold 116718 LN, and Rolex wasn’t doing things by halves.
A single piece of rich black ceramic Rolex called Cerachrom, with numerals etched to aerospace precision and coated with a deposit of platinum made the message clear: Rolex was going to ceramics, and it wasn’t looking back. The Submariner, Daytona, Sea-Dweller and Yacht-Master all followed suit, offering single piece ceramic bezels with the same durability and lustre of that 2005 original.
But customers wanted more. The classic aluminium-bezelled GMT-Master was best known for its blue and red day and night colouration, and this famous combo was distinctly absent from the ceramic line-up. That’s because there was a problem: Rolex had instigated a self-imposed rule that its ceramic bezels must be made of a single piece, presumably to avoid the use of adhesives, and that meant dying the uncoloured blank in two stages.
There was a compromise with the 2013 116710BLNR, which featured a split-tone bezel in blue and black. To get around the problem, Rolex had discovered that it could dye the entire bezel blue first, then half of it black second, resulting in a crisp division between colours without either bleeding into the other. This satiated a frustrated audience for a time, but it wasn’t long before the call for a blue and red bezel came once again.
The obvious solution seems to be to dye each half separately, but unfortunately it’s not as simple as that: if there’s a gap between the two colours, it’ll show, and if the two colours overlap, even just a fraction, it’ll show even more. Finally, Rolex came upon a solution: dye the lighter colour first, the red, and then the darker colour second, the blue, just like the BLNR.
But for this to work for the BLRO, the red needed to have a hint of blue and the blue a hint of red, or the overlapping blue would end up just looking purple, and so rather than getting a rich red and a rich blue, the result is a bit more muted. It’s a pretty minor discrepancy in isolation, but side by side with the original GMT-Master II and its aluminium bezel, and the difference is obvious—and that’s what we’re here to fix.
Let’s say for a moment that Rolex managed to find a way around this bezel colouration issue. Maybe they invent a way to dye the bezel in two halves with a seamless transition, or perhaps they discover a dye that’s pigmented enough to layer over the previous colour—what would a truly vibrant BLRO really look like?
Well, wonder no more, because here it is. The red a rich scarlet, closer in colour to the GMT hand, and the blue a deep royal, more akin to the BLRO’s, and the 126710BLRO takes on a new lease of life, free of the murkier colours it wore previously. Side by side with the classic 16710 and it looks more at home, vibrant and eye-catching. This would be a true successor to the aluminium bezel, modernised in ceramic.
It’s the finishing touches on what is otherwise a faultless watch, and on the jubilee bracelet it looks every part the modern take on the classic original. Are the results good enough for Rolex to reconsider its approach? I don’t know why they wouldn’t be. The compromise of the dual layer colouration process has robbed the watch of what could otherwise be a stand-out feature, and the self-imposed rule to make the bezels out of a single piece—well, I’m not sure it justifies the result.
But we’re not done yet. The BLRO has been fixed, but can it be further improved? If we had carte blanche to create our own GMT-Master bezel, free of the rules of Rolex, what could it be? Well, you know how the standard two-tone bezel represents day and night? How about this: a gradient bezel that showcases the colour of the sky as it shifts throughout the day.
You’ve got a bright midday blue at twelve, sinking deeper as the afternoon wears on. A wash of pink takes over as evening turns into night, fading into a dusky purple and eventually to black. Then, as night swings back into day, orange seeps in, blooming as the sun rises and eventually finds its way back to midday again.
It’s pretty crazy, but it’s incredibly unique, and it gives the GMT-Master II a certain wow-factor it didn’t previously have. As for the name, it would have to follow the tradition of using two letters from each colour in French, so for the blue, pink, purple, black and orange palette, what about the BLRSVINROR? And perhaps, maybe, for the brave, there could even be a bejewelled version similar to the rainbow Daytona as well …
So, there you have it, we’ve fixed the Rolex GMT-Master II BLRO. Who knows, maybe Rolex will take note? Maybe they’ll even like the BLRSVINROR and consider putting into production? It’s highly doubtful, but we can dream.
What do you think of the subtle fix to the BLRO? Do you think the tweaked colours make it better or worse, or do you think it doesn’t make a difference? Let us know in the comments below. And if you’ve seen a watch that’s perfect except for one annoying thing, let us know about that and we’ll try and fix that too.
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