The Rolex GMT-Master II Ref 126710BLNR Batman made its debut at Baselworld 2019. It is not a new watch as such. Rather, it supersedes the popular but now-discontinued Rolex GMT-Master II Ref 116710BLNR Batman. Boasting several key updates, the Ref 126710BLNR is technically superior to its predecessor. But not everyone is happy about the way the new model looks. And speculation on the impact restricted supply will have on pricing is already rife. That seems fair, given what happened with the Rolex GMT-Master II Ref 126710BLRO Pepsi last year. So, is the new Rolex Batman a better buy than the old one? Read on to find out.

A (Very) Brief History Of The Rolex Batman

When the Rolex GMT-Master II Ref 116710BLNR Batman dropped at Baselworld in 2013, people took notice. This was the first Rolex watch to feature a bi-color ceramic bezel. That’s despite the fact that Rolex introduced cerachrom bezels to the GMT-Master II (Ref 116718LN) 8 years earlier in 2005. Ceramic is a tricky material to work with though. That’s why Rolex had always said it was impossible to make a bi-color bezel in ceramic. Until they did it, of course.

For collectors, this is significant for a number of reasons. There’s the obvious fact that it is the first watch to showcase this technical development. More importantly though, a bi-colour bezel was a fundamental design aspect of the original GMT-Master. Rolex developed the watch in the 1950’s in response to Pan-American Airways’ request for a watch that could display more than one time zone (for transatlantic flights). Its most distinguishing visual feature was the two-tone colour scheme, blue and red, which marked daytime from nighttime hours. Check out this Rolex GMT-Master Ref 1675 from 1963 to see what I’m talking about.

Unlike the original Pepsi, though, the ceramic bezel of the Ref 116710BLNR is blue and black (BLNR stands for bleu/noir). It doesn’t take much imagination than to see where the Batman nickname comes from. Same goes for the Rolex Submariner 116610 LV Hulk. This was surprising at the time, as there had never been a blue and black bezel in the collection before. Now, of course, it’s difficult to imagine the GMT-Master II line-up without one.

For several years, the Ref 116710BLNR was the only steel Rolex GMT-Master II with a bi-colour bezel. That’s because in 2014, Rolex decided to make the Pepsi GMT-Master II available exclusively in 18k white gold. This made it less accessible but also in some ways less authentic. After all, everyone knows a proper tool watch comes in steel. The flip-side to this of course is that it paved the way for the Batman to establish a cult following of its own. That’s why getting your hands on one through the proper authorised channels generally requires months of waiting.

Now the original Batman has been superseded by the new Rolex GMT-Master II Ref 126710BLNR. Does that mean it’s the better watch to buy?

The Ref 116710BLNR vs The Ref 126710BLNR

To the casual observer, the Ref 116710BLNR and Ref 126710BLNR look virtually identical. The most obvious difference is the bracelet. The original Batman is worn on an Oyster bracelet, like the majority of the brand’s tool watches. Think the Rolex Daytona or the Rolex Deepsea. You get the idea. The new version, however, comes on the equally well-made but decidedly more mature 5-link Jubilee bracelet. In keeping with the sport watch theme, the bracelet is now fitted with a solid folding buckle with Oysterlock and 5mm Easylink extension.

According to Rolex, it’s not possible to switch between the two bracelet types. This is because the lugs have been redesigned specifically for the new end links of the Jubilee bracelet. This has been the source of some contention as many people prefer their tool watches with an Oyster bracelet. That’s not to say the Jubilee bracelet is in any way inferior. It’s not. Rather, it is more usually found on the brand’s dress watches, like the Datejust 41.

Update Mar ’21: The Oyster is back! As part of its 2021 novelties, Rolex brought back the Oyster bracelet as an option on the Ref 126710BLNR. As is typical with Rolex there was little fanfare or explanation for this decision. This doesn’t replace the Jubilee bracelet option. Instead it gives would-be owners the choice between the two. With the Oyster option being a smidge cheaper. This is sure to make a lot of people very happy. Although those who already own a coveted first-generation Batman on Oyster may be less so. Then again, there are other reasons that model is desirable. As we will see below.

The case remains the same as before. 40mm in diameter and 12.5mm thick. The blue and black bi-colour ceramic bezel is unchanged, as is the black dial. This means a blue GMT hand, maxi-indexes and hands and a date window magnified by a cyclops at 3 o’clock. If you look closely, you will also notice a small crown logo between “Swiss” and “Made” at the bottom of the dial. That’s because the Ref 126710BLNR is fitted with a new generation Rolex movement.

The calibre 3285 offers a more efficient escapement and gear train and a new variable-inertia balance wheel. It also delivers an improved power reserve. The previous calibre 3186 found in the Ref 116710BLNR offered 50 hours when fully wound. The new calibre ups that to 70 hours. The movement is certified Superlative Chronometer and comes with a 5-year warranty.

The changes to the new Batman are part of a larger effort by Rolex to bring more cohesion to the GMT-Master II collection. As of 2019, all models in the collection must have a bi-colour ceramic bezel. And all models will be equipped with the new generation calibre 3285. As a result, four references have been discontinued with immediate effect. This is good news for Rolex lovers but could also have some influence over which Batman you buy.

Which Should You Buy?

On paper, the new Rolex GMT-Master II Ref 126710BLNR Batman is technically superior to its predecessor. Better movement, slimmer lugs and a more refined look overall. And now with the option of an Oyster bracelet it really does seem like the clear choice. But, as always there are caveats to that.

It’s no secret that Rolex has been lagging on increasing the supply of its in-demand steel sports watches. Whether this is a deliberate strategy or due to genuine production constraints is subject to debate. There has been speculation that streamlining the collection will enable Rolex to increase production. There seems to be some anecdotal evidence to support this but not enough to suggest Rolex has made great strides in this area. Add to that the impact of Covid on production and global logistics and it seems you could be waiting a long time to get your watch from an AD.

There’s also the option of buying on the secondary market. Prices for the Ref 126710BLNR have come down somewhat from their peak in 2019. But they’re still well over double retail. Somewhere in the vicinity of US$20,000. And you can expect to pay an extra premium for an Oyster bracelet as there are so few on the market at the moment.

On the other hand, we can say with certainty that production of the Ref 116710BLNR is capped. As a result, prices on the secondary market are more stable now. Although still growing steadily following a significant upward trajectory in mid-2019.

The original Batman is still a popular watch and probably always will be. It was the first watch from Rolex to have a bi-colour ceramic bezel. It was also the first to have a blue and black bezel. And it was only in production for around 5 years. That means low volumes on the secondary market. Plus, a lot of people prefer the original case with Oyster bracelet.

So, if you’re a collector/investor who wants to own a bit of Rolex history, I would say the Ref 116710BLNR is the watch for you. If you’re a watch lover who wants the latest and greatest from Rolex, then the Ref 126710BLNR is the obvious choice. Of course, if you’re not already a VIP at your nearest authorised Rolex retailer, you might be in for quite a wait.

Technical Specifications: Rolex GMT-Master II Ref 126710BLNR ‘Batman’

  • Case: Oyster – 40 mm – Oystersteel – monobloc middle case, screw-down case back and winding crown – Bidirectional rotatable 24-hour graduated bezel. Two-colour blue and 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 3285 – bidirectional self-winding via Perpetual rotor – Parachrom hairspring – Chronenergy escapement – 70-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 – Certified as superlative chronometer (-2/+2 sec/day, after casing).
  • Price: USD 9,900.

Technical Specifications: Rolex GMT-Master II Ref 116710BLNR ‘Batman’

  • Case: Oyster – 40 mm – Oystersteel – monobloc middle case, screw-down case back and winding crown – Bidirectional rotatable 24-hour graduated bezel. Two-colour blue and 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 / ~USD17,500 on secondary market.

Last updated 31 May, 2021.

Tom Mulraney
Tom Mulraney
Founder & Editor
Tom likes to write about luxury watches. So much so, that he created The Watch Lounge just so he would have an outlet for his passion. Together with his team, he is dedicated to bringing you original, entertaining (and maybe even a little educational) luxury watch and lifestyle content.

8 thoughts on “Is The New Rolex Batman A Better Buy Than The Old One?”

  1. Mario Capatori says:

    You are wrong. The new Batman has a thinner case than the old Batman.

  2. Robert Mehaffey says:

    Where can I purchase a new Rolex GMT Master II for $9900?

  3. Jonathan Adamson says:

    I love my 116710BLNR which i was lucky enough to purchase back in 2014. When I went to view it along side the all back ceramic model I knew that there was just something special about this one. Firstly with it being a first for Rolex in the Bi-color on a ceramic bezel and the black and blue colors. Secondly because I was travelling alot I needed a GMT watch so it just fit the bill perfectly for me and what an inspired choice it turned out to be aswell. My dream Rolex is a 2016 Daytona (panda dial) but even one came up on the market I still wouldnt trade my Batman in for one.

  4. Mario says:

    Such a great article! Thank you for taking the time to write it. I have had the privilege of owning both watches (the “116710BLNR” Batman and “126710BLNR” Batgirl… still not 100% sure why the newer model got this nickname) and I have to honestly say I am a MUCH bigger fan of the newer “Batgirl”. I love the look of this watch and the blue/black bi-color ceramic bezel on the less scratch-prone jubilee band is just stunning. I have worn it with jeans and a tuxedo – the watch is truly versatile!

    Anyways, keep up the great work and even though I am a watch professional with over 20 years of experience, I learned A TON by reading your article.


  5. Drew Birmingham says:

    Very very interesting article..
    I love my BATMAN even more after purchasing it for 10K , four years ago. 50% increase on the secondary market is great news..
    But even if held its own price I would be extremely happy
    Not a big fan of the jubilee bracelet
    On the 2019 model
    And again I’m glad ROLEX does not sell just bracelets because there would be a lot FRANKIN WATCHES on the secondary market

  6. Gerald Brienza says:

    With the new jubilee bracelet, it should be called the “Batgirl.”

  7. James Rocco says:

    Now that Rolex has brought back the Oytser bracelet on the 126710BLNR, it looks like prices on the Mk. 1 “Batman” are going to continue rising…possibly for a very long time to come. Rolex is not producing more steel models. In fact, they are making even FEWER now and have focused their business on catching up to the holy trinity. Which means more precious metal, like gold and platinum; steel pieces will be reserved for those high spending, longtime VIP customers. The rest of the world can just deal with it. The ref. 116710LN/116710BLNR is the ONLY ceramic bezel sport model in steel to feature the MK. 1 Super case…the original Super case. The one with the aggressive, masculine lines. The one everybody fell in love with in the very beginning. No, I am going to disagree. There is a clear winner here but there are two categories: 116710 wins for appearance, historical significance & collectability but the 126710 wins for movement, power reserve, and “modernity,” I suppose (a trait rarely sought after in haute horologic circles)

  8. The Great Rolex Scam says:

    You can’t buy an interesting Rolex at anywhere near reasonable value.

    So what does it matter anyway?

    Shady AD are asking $15 to $25k for this watch.

    More prestigious brands and better watches at that price range.

    Steel Rolex for 15k USD.
    No thanks.

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