Two New Rolex GMT-II Masters

Rolex GMT-II Master

When the name "Rolex" is mentioned, three iconic images come to mind: a black dive watch, a two-tone sports watch, and a bi-colored bezel GMT-Master. However, this year, Rolex has masterfully combined these signature designs to create what could become a modern classic—the Rolex GMT-Master II 126713GRNR in steel and gold, known as Rolesor in Rolex parlance. Now, you might think it's just another two-tone Rolex, but those who have seen it in person understand its allure.

The exquisite balance of steel and gold, the interplay of black and gray, and the striking reflections from the polished case flanks, bracelet links, and cerachrom bezel all embody the essence of what a Rolex should be. In case the two-tone version doesn't satisfy your taste for opulence, fear not, because the full yellow gold GMT-Master II 126718GRNR is an absolute stunner.

Before delving deeper, let's clarify a few things. There isn't anything groundbreaking here, except for the gray ceramic bezel. Every other feature of the new GMT-Master II can be found in various Rolex models, but these releases mark the return of yellow gold—the world's most popular precious metal—to the GMT-Master collection, a welcome comeback since 2018. Furthermore, the specifications remain consistent with the rest of the GMT-Master II lineup. So, if you're already familiar with Rolex specifications, feel free to skip the next paragraph.

Both new GMT-Master IIs feature a 40mm-wide case with a lug-to-lug distance of 48mm and a thickness of 11.9mm. The Rolesor model boasts a case crafted from 904L stainless steel, complemented by an 18K yellow gold bezel, crown, and inner bracelet links, while the full yellow gold version is entirely crafted from 18K yellow gold. Powering the GMT-Master II is the Calibre 3258, providing an impressive 70 hours of power reserve.

These in-house movements are packed with Rolex's top-of-the-line innovations, including the Chronergy escapement, blue Parachrom hairspring, and paraflex shock absorbers. It's also equipped with a "true" GMT movement, allowing for independent adjustment of the local hour hand to prevent disruptions to timekeeping when crossing time zones. With a solid steel caseback, Triplock crown, and sapphire crystal, the watch ensures water resistance up to 100 meters. The glossy black dial features solid 18K yellow gold applied indices and hands filled with Chromalight luminescent material that emits a blue glow.

Now, let's talk about the bezel of the new GMT-Master II. Crafted from solid 18K yellow gold, it features a 24-hour Cerachrom insert—more on this in a moment. The bezel operates smoothly with a ball-bearing mechanism, rotating bidirectionally with 24 distinctive clicks, each representing a different time zone. Every year, enthusiasts hope Rolex will update this bezel mechanism. While the tactile sensation and the sound of the bezel are subjective, some might feel disappointed by the mushy feeling it produces, more like a muffled thump than a satisfying click.

Among all the refined details that make Rolex watches exceptional, the bezel action has always been a letdown. However, if we disregard this minor flaw, the bezel itself is truly remarkable. The bi-color insert showcases a highly polished black ceramic on the top half and a polished gray on the lower half. Even number graduations are engraved and filled with gold, sporting a captivating frosted finish. The chosen shade of gray is excellent, reminiscent of menacing thunderclouds. The brilliance lies in how this color, combined with the polished finish, often disappears, remaining neutral.

In certain lighting conditions, it becomes indistinguishable from the black segment, only to reappear as reflections shift. It's an elegant solution to provide a day-night indicator without using a polarizing color, all while allowing Rolex to showcase their expertise in producing bi-color ceramic bezels. Furthermore, the combination of gray and yellow gold exudes a distinctively modern feel, despite the vintage touch provided by the two-tone (or full gold) jubilee bracelet.

At the Watches and Wonders 2023 event, all eyes were initially drawn to the RLX Titanium Yachtmaster and open-caseback platinum Daytonas, creating a buzz. However, I found myself captivated by the GMT-Masters. They seemed oddly familiar in every aspect, yet it took a moment to realize that these watches didn't exist in the lineup until that very moment. I'm not alone in this sentiment, as I've heard similar opinions from friends and collectors while discussing the new releases. It's a testament to Rolex's brand power and identity—a few key features so strongly associated with the brand that any combination feels perfect. At first glance, it may not seem like much, but it's precisely what many brands strive for.

While Rolex is known for playing it safe (they even have a crown to prove it), they continue to push the envelope each year with a few unexpected offerings. Some may argue that these unconventional releases dilute the brand, but watches like the GMT-Master II serve as reminders that Rolex knows exactly what it's doing and does it better than ever. The waiting lists are probably growing, so if you're interested, it's wise not to delay much longer to secure your spot. With price tags of $16,450 USD for the two-tone version and $38,900 USD for the full yellow gold model, these watches epitomize timelessness as well as luxury. For more information about Rolex and their latest releases, visit the brand's official website.

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