Rolex GMT-Master II White Gold 116719BLRO & 126719BLRO Complete Guide
The Rolex GMT Master has always been an essential timepiece for Rolex and the famous bi-colored bezel in red and blue is strongly associated with the company, commonly called “Pepsi”. As a matter of fact, the GMT- Master is one of the most iconic timepieces in the world.
In 2007 the GMT Master II reference 16710 was discontinued and was replaced by the maxi-case GMT Master II reference 116710LN which, for the first time had a bezel insert made in ceramic for the stainless steel GMT Master II. However, this meant that the bi-colored bezel no longer existed, but instead only a full-black bezel insert.
Perhaps was the reason for this that the technique to develop a ceramic bezel insert with two colors was too difficult at the time. The process of combining two different colors in ceramic and creating a razor-sharp line between them is a technique that is exceptionally difficult.
In 2013 Rolex introduced, for the first time, a bi-colored bezel insert for the GMT Master II. After many years of research and development, Rolex had mastered the art.
However, the colors were a surprise for many as the color combination previously hadn’t existed. Instead of coming up with new colors for the GMT, Rolex decided to use two already familiar colors but instead decided to match them together.
The new GMT Master II with a bi-colored bezel insert which was blue and black and had the reference number 116710BLNR but quickly was given the nickname “Batman”. It wasn’t until the year after, in 2014, which Rolex for the first time since 2007 brought back the “Pepsi” insert for the GMT Master II, the catch was that this watch, for the first time ever in the GMT Master line-up, was made in 18K solid white gold which was mass-produced.
The only GMT Master II made in white gold prior was the reference 116769TBR said to only been made in 10 pieces worldwide. The GMT Master II reference 116719BLRO with an oyster bracelet with polished center links was beautiful and finally, after 8 years, the blue/red color combination was available for the GMT Master II once again.
116719BLRO MK1 Dial → MK2 Dial
The first dial for the re-introduced GMT Master II “Pepsi” was black with white gold hour markers, as seen above. It was also the only available dial for the model until 2018. In 2018 Rolex decided to bring back the “Pepsi” version of the GMT Master II in stainless steel reference 126710BLRO now featuring a jubilee bracelet, which it only was sold with.
However, the dilemma was that the stainless steel version “Pepsi” was introduced with a black dial, and because of this, Rolex decided to change the white gold “Pepsi” dial to matte blue and encouraged all owners of a Rolex GMT Master II in white gold with a black dial to change for a matte blue, free of charge, in case they wanted at a Rolex Authorized Service Center. This was to satisfy customers who had bought white gold GMT-Masters who bought the watch for prestige, and not have them be mixed up with the much-more affordable steel versions. In other words, to differentiate the GMT-Masters in white gold from the GMT-Masters in steel with the Pepsi bezel.
This is a very generous gesture of Rolex and of course, was appealing to a lot of owners with the white gold “Pepsi” because, for the untrained eye, looked just like a stainless steel version. The only difference was the bracelet between the two. With this said, Rolex stuck to the blue dial for every GMT Master II white gold “Pepsi” produced ever after, which makes the black dial rather unique and sought after for collectors -although, of course, there’s just something special about blue dials.
The only way to distinguish a white gold “Pepsi” reference 116719BLRO black dial from a stainless steel “Pepsi” is really the crown placed between “Swiss” and “Made”.
New Reference 126719BLRO Is Introduced
In 2019 Rolex decided to discontinue the Rolex GMT Master II in white gold with the reference 116719BLRO. The blue dial which was available in the first generation white gold GMT Master II “Pepsi” had the text “Swiss Made” at the 6 o’clock position. As the new reference 126719BLRO was introduced with a new generation caliber, the text had a crown added in the middle, which now displayed “Swiss ♛ Made”, which makes it different from the first generation blue dial.
Apart from a new generation movement which was displayed with a “♛” for the blue dial a brand new dial, which is a new dial configuration for the GMT Master line ever, is being introduced. The crown between Swiss and made is now a standard feature in all Rolex watches featuring the new generation Rolex calibers.
Rolex decided to also create an extremely special meteorite dial version of the white gold GMT-Master II. What’s unique about this dial is that every dial is different from each other as they are made from a meteorite. Because of the scarcity, rare nature, and complexity of the material, the dial is largely made by hand to ensure perfection.
A meteorite is a piece of debris from a solid mass such as a meteoroid, comet, or asteroid which survives the fall from space and successfully crash on earth or the moon. Have in mind that most meteorites that fall to earht burn before they reach earth. Various factors such as friction and pressure cause the mass to heat up and gain energy once the debris enters the atmosphere.
This process can be seen from earth and is commonly known as a fallen or shooting star. At this stage, the debris is a meteor and what you see is literally a fireball falling rapidly. Once the meteor has landed on a bigger mass such as earth or the moon it then becomes a meteorite. Because of this, the material is fairly rare and hard to work with and this is what causes every dial to be unique for the watch.
Caliber 3186 → Caliber 3285
As mentioned, the new model reference 126719BLRO was added with a new generation Caliber 3285. The power reserve was increased to 70 hours, which was previously only about 50 hours. A big difference is also the Paraflex Schock observers which takes the precision of this movement to +/- 2 seconds per 24 Hours which previously in the Caliber 3186 were +/- 4 seconds per 24 Hours.
The Paraflex is a tiny component making a huge difference in the accuracy of the movement as its’ function is to firmly position the hairspring and prevent any deformation, this tiny patented component by Rolex does also improve the shock resistance by up to 50 percent. The new Caliber 3285 really is a great movement that is greatly reliable, and because of this Rolex now also gives the recommendation to service your watch every 10 years, which, not too long ago, was recommended every 5 years. In other words, it is a huge technical improvement to the movement that leads to greater service intervals.
The Crown & Its Functions
The crown is made out of 18K solid white gold and is a screw-in crown with crown guards that protects the crown from being damaged.
The crown has a Rolex coronet as a marking and three dots underneath it, meaning that it is a Triplock crown system that prevents water and dust from entering the watch. The Triplock crown was first introduced to the maxi-case GMT Master II, and previously the GMT Master was equipped with a twin lock crown system.
The reason for the change, although it’s not an official statement from Rolex, is likely to be that the Twinlock crown which is smaller than the Triplock crown does not proportionally fit the bigger and more rugged maxi-case, and therefore, the Triplock crown is a better choice for the model. When unscrewing the crown, the first position is to wind the watch, this function is handy if your watch has stopped and you want to wind the watch up and get it started.
When you pull out the crown an additional step, you control the independent hour-hand which can be set without affecting the minute, GMT, or seconds hand.
The GMT Master II reference 126719BLRO does not have the function to set the date separately, so it would be in the first position when you pull out the crown that adjusts the date by rotating the hour-hand. The second step when you pull out the crown controls the minute hand, which also affects the hour hand, but also the GMT-hand.
18K Solid White Gold Case And Bracelet
The material used for the GMT Master II 126719BLRO is 18K white gold which is made in-house in Rolex’s very own foundry. The case, just like the bracelet is solid which really gives a rugged impression and the weight really does surprise at first, but of course, this is something that the wearer gets used to just like any other watch after some time.
The case of the watch has a brushed finish on the lugs and a polished finish on the sides and measures 40mm in diameter. The bracelet is an Oyster Bracelet, 20mm end-links, with a classic gold PCL (Polished Centered Links) finished design, with links that are easily removed with screws. This, according to many, makes the polished centered links exposed and easy to scratch which in some cases can be annoying.
However, the PCL construction gives the impression of a fresh and shiny look and does really add a lot to the luxurious overall impression of the watch. After all, a white gold watch should have a sense of elegance.
The bracelet does also have the brilliant Easylink Comfort extension system which offers the function to extend or shorten if it’s already pulled out, the bracelet with 5mm. This becomes extra handy and a must-have function during the summer or any other places where it is hot and your wrist swells and changes in size due to the heat. This allows for a perfect fit at all times. Although the GMT Master II is a rugged case similar to the Submariner, the water resistance is only 100 meters.
According to Rolex, there is no problem to swim with this watch or snorkel, but some may question why the water-resistance only is 100 meters when it easily could be 300 meters, just as the Submariner.
Perhaps the reason for this is that the watch is not meant to be in the water but originally was developed for Pan AM pilots which only were in need of the function to display separate timezones simultaneously when handling the aircraft. It’s not like Rolex does not have the know-how to make the water-resistance 200 or even 300 meters.
Bidirectional 24 Hour Bezel
The bezel is made in white gold and has a Rolex Cerachrome bezel inlay with the iconic blue and red color. The bezel is bidirectional meaning that you can turn it both clockwise and counterclockwise to display a third timezone. Although the GMT Master is known for having the possibility to set two different timezones simultaneously in the watch, it is actually possible to add a third if you wish by rotating the bezel.
The bezel has 24 clicks which means that a full rotation has 1 click for every hour of the day. When turning the bezel, you get the feeling of a genuine and well-made construction, and it is, once again is easy to understand why Rolex innovative mechanical solutions are the best for their sports watches when it comes to every single detail that you might not think of when looking at the watch, but experience once you start to use the functions of it.
The watch has four hands, and in order to display the first timezone, you will only need to set the hour and minute hand to any time you wish. Perhaps would the most convenient time to display be the time of the timezone which you currently are in.
To set a second timezone, the GMT-hand which is the fourth hand in red with an arrow at the tip will be set to a different timezone at your choice. In order to make this easier, it is recommended to have the bezel aligned up with the arrow pointing at the 12 o’clock hour marker. The GMT-hand will rotate a full turn every 24 hours, meaning that every half an hour gap is an hour.
If the bezel is correctly aligned then the GMT hand, it will help you determine what time it is. This is easy to set and the idea is that the GMT-hand should display your “timezone at home” and the independent hour-hand can be set without affecting the minutes or GMT-hand once you entered a different time-zone.
With the help of the bezel, it is possible to set the third timezone by doing the reversed process of the second timezone, meaning that you align the bezel with the GMT-hand to display a third timezone. By doing this the bezel will no longer be aligned according to the second time zone which means that you would have to remember the time the GMT-hand is pointing at, which after some time with the watch is easy to remember.