Earlier this year, Rolex discontinued the Rolex GMT-Master II Ref 116710LN. Along with several other GMT-Master II models. More on that in a moment. Shortly thereafter, prices on the secondary market began to climb. Not surprising really. This is a steel sports Rolex after all. And a popular one at that. Now that it is no longer available new, the secondary market is the only option for would be owners. But is the black Rolex GMT-Master II worth the money?
A (Very) Brief History Of The Ref 116710LN
You may not know it to look at it but to some, the Ref 116710LN is a significant watch. To understand why, we need to look at its origins. In 2005, Rolex unveiled the yellow gold GMT-Master II Ref 116718LN. The occasion was the 50th anniversary of the GMT-Master collection. Rolex took this opportunity to also debut the brand’s patented new ceramic bezel insert. Impervious to scratches and fading, this was a significant move by the brand. There was a catch though. It was a single colour.
Traditionally, the aluminium bezel inserts on GMT-Master watches have always been bi-colour. This goes back to the first Ref 1675’s from the late 1950’s. The reason for this is simple. The 24-hour scale on the bi-directional bezel allows you to track two time-zones at the same time. To make it easy to read at a glance, the insert was divided into two halves. One red, to correspond with daylight hours, the other blue for night-time. The design is nothing short of iconic. Hence the reason the Pepsi GMT-Master II is still so popular today.
At the time though, Rolex said it wasn’t possible to make a bi-colour Cerachrom bezel. And this would remain the case until the arrival of the Batman GMT-Master II in 2013. That’s not to say there was no precedent for an all-black bezel, though. In 1970, Rolex did introduce a black aluminium bezel insert on the GMT-Master. Although less popular than the bi-color models, it remained in production until the end of the 90’s.
As it turns out, it didn’t matter that much anyway. The new-look GMT-Master II models were a hit. Everyone wanted the new ceramic bezel insert. So, when the steel Ref 116710LN arrived in 2007 it received a warm welcome from collectors. It was more accessible than the solid gold and two-tone versions that preceded it. And the steel case was more in keeping with the tool watch aesthetic. Plus, it didn’t hurt that it paid subtle homage to the lesser known black bezel GMT-Master.
The Rolex GMT-Master II Ref 116710LN
As the first steel GMT-Master II to feature a Cerachrom bezel, the Ref 116710LN was always going to be in demand. But the shiny new bezel is not the only thing that made this watch attractive. Rolex also borrowed several technical advances from other models.
The secure Triplock crown came from the Submariner. This crown uses three sealed zones to ensure watertight security akin to a submarine’s hatch. Rolex chose not to increase the watch’s 100m water resistance rating though. Probably because it’s a pilot’s watch and not a dive watch. Also taken from the Submariner was the Maxi dial design. It’s distinguished by thicker hour and minute hands and larger round markers. Not everyone likes the Maxi dial as it is a bit more in your face. It does seem to improve legibility though.
The original black bezel GMT-Master had a red 24-hour hand. For the Ref 116710LN, Rolex changed this to green. The name “GMT-Master II” also appears in green text on the dial. Subtle changes sure but ones that helped this model become highly recognisable.
The next big change was the Oyster bracelet, which was revamped for the Ref 116710LN. It introduced another Rolex innovation collectors had been asking for. The Easylink 5mm comfort Extension link. This allowed the wearer to make small adjustments to the length of the bracelet. At the time, it was commonly called the “Daytona” clasp. The more advanced Glidelock clasp has since taken its place.
The other thing to set this Oyster bracelet apart was its polished centre links. This would become a hallmark of future steel GMT-Master II’s. Up until this year that is, when Rolex replaced the Oyster bracelet with the Jubilee. But we’ll get to that.
Inside the 40mm steel case was the same manufacture calibre 3186. The only difference was this self-winding movement was equipped with a new hairspring. Rolex’s own in-house “Parachrom” hairspring, to be exact. This time, taken from the Rolex Milgauss. It enabled the movement to be anti-magnetic and more resistant to shocks. Standard stuff today but a major development at the time.
When new, the Ref 116710LN retailed for a tad over GBP 6,000. Now that it’s discontinued, that price has gone up.
Is It Worth The Money?
This year, Rolex consolidated the GMT-Master II collection. A total of four references were discontinued, including the Ref 116710LN. Not only that, the steel models are now only available on Jubilee bracelets. And all models are only available with bi-colour ceramic bezels. In many ways, these changes make sense. The collection needed some refinement and that is exactly what Rolex has done.
A fallout of this of course is increased demand for the discontinued models. Some of it from collectors who want to own these watches. Some of it is driven by speculators looking to make a quick buck. Whatever the case, to buy a Ref 116710LN on the secondary market now, you will pay upwards of GBP 9,000.
That’s for a watch that doesn’t include a next generation movement from Rolex. Yet, there’s a certain sense of nostalgia around this model. It was the first steel GMT-Master II to feature a Cerachrom bezel. And it is the last of the single colour GMT-Master II’s.
Does that mean the Ref 116710LN is worth the money though? It’s a tough call. For many, the only GMT-Master II worth having is the steel Pepsi. But there’s crazy wait lists for that watch. And prices are still hovering around GBP 14,000 on the secondary market. Likewise, the discontinued Batman is trading for around GBP 12,000. Both those models have a cult following though, more so than the full-black GMT-Master II.
Still, it’s a great watch with some interesting, if a little obscure, heritage. The full black bezel is less ostentatious than the bi-colour options. And it’s still relatively obtainable. Plus, it’s not like you can go on a wait list for this watch and pay retail at your local AD. Now that production has stopped, supply will begin to decrease. Meaning prices will probably continue to go up, albeit slowly.
At the end of the day, if you like the Ref 116710LN, buy it. Not because you think it’s a good investment. Or because you think it will be a future collector’s item. Buy it because you like it and will enjoy wearing it. That’s it.
Technical Specifications: Rolex GMT-Master II Ref 116710LN
- Case: Oyster – 40 mm – Oystersteel – monobloc middle case, screw-down case back and winding crown – Bidirectional rotatable 24-hour graduated bezel. Black Cerachrom insert in ceramic, engraved numerals and graduations – waterproof to 100 metres / 330 feet.
- Dial: Matt black – 18ct gold hour markers – Chromalight display with longlasting blue luminescence on hour markers and hands.
- Movement: Calibre 3186 – bidirectional self-winding via Perpetual rotor – Parachrom hairspring – 50-hour power reserve – Centre hour, minute and seconds hands – 24-hour display – Second time zone with independent rapid-setting of the hour hand – Instantaneous date – Stop-seconds for precise time setting – COSC-certified chronometer.
- Price: Discontinued / ~GBP 9,000 on secondary market.