It’s been a few years since the current iteration of the stainless steel Rolex GMT-Master II reference 126710 hit the market, and still, it continues to elude collectors at a retail level. It’s one of the most sought-after Rolex watches in production, and for a good reason too. With the lustrous split-color Cerachrom bezel and a classic stainless steel finish, it’s nostalgic and something of a status symbol because of its exclusivity. If you’re currently waiting to purchase one or simply want to learn more about the newest edition of the famous Rolex pilot’s watch, you’re in the right place.
We’ve compiled everything you need to know about the Rolex GMT Master II reference 126710 in this handy guide, complete with its history, variations, and price.
Rolex released the GMT-Master in 1955, initially featuring a red and blue “Pepsi” bezel insert in Bakelite, followed a few years later by a more durable aluminum version. With the GMT hand and 24-hour bezel, the wearer could read local and home time simultaneously while traversing the globe, an innovative feature at the time. Since then, the series has undergone several transformations, including an upgraded independent GMT hand with the arrival of the GMT Master II series, but things really started to get interesting for the collection with the release of the reference 126710.
Rolex introduced the reference 126710 in 2018, marking the first time that the GMT-Master II outfitted with a ceramic “Pepsi” bezel had become available in stainless steel. The Pepsi bezel has always been a fixture of the GMT Master series, featuring two different colors to distinguish between day and night hours. However, when Rolex transitioned from aluminum to ceramic bezels, early models of the GMT-Master II were outfitted with an all-black insert. The technology wasn’t quite there yet to produce a split-color bezel in ceramic that would meet Rolex’s strict standards for perfection.
However, that all changed in 2013 with ref. 116710BLNR. Featuring a black and blue insert, this edition of the GMT Master II was the very first two-tone ceramic bezel produced by Rolex. It was also lovingly referred to as the “Batman” or “Dark Knight” because of its unique colorway. As you can imagine, hearing that Rolex was now producing two-tone ceramic bezels was quite exciting. One could only assume that the iconic Pepsi bezel would be the next colorway to get a ceramic upgrade. And it was, but much to the disappointment of many, it was initially released only in full white gold via the ref. 116719BLRO in 2014. Collectors would have to wait until the release of ref. 126710 in 2018 to finally get a ceramic Pepsi GMT in stainless steel, aka “Oystersteel.”
Initially, the reference 126710BLRO was only produced with the red and blue insert and on a Jubilee bracelet. In 2019, Rolex rolled out the 126710BLNR, the same watch but with a black and blue “Batman” insert and a matching blue GMT hand, essentially replacing the original Batman ref. 116710BLNR. It was also initially only available on the Jubilee bracelet, just like its Pepsi counterpart. That brings us to 2021 and the addition of the Oyster bracelet to both 126710 bezel colorways.
In 2022, Rolex added yet another new bezel color to the stainless steel GMT Master II featuring a black and green insert and the date and crown on the left side of the case. However, it isn’t technically a ref. 126710 and is instead produced under the reference number 126720VTNR. Will Rolex release ref. 126710 with a red and black “Coke” bezel next? Or perhaps bring back the all-black bezel? Only time will tell!
Reference 126710 is produced in Rolex’s proprietary 904L-grade Oystersteel. While the greater GMT-Master II collection is also available in two-tone or either 18k white gold or Everose gold, many Rolex enthusiasts will agree that a proper tool watch is produced in stainless steel. It also features Rolex’s patented Triplock waterproof screw-down crown with a 100-meter depth rating, a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, and a magnifying Cyclops lens over the date.
Of course, the case is also outfitted with the popular ceramic, aka Cerachrom, bezel insert with a bi-directional design and 24-hour graduations. As of the writing of this article, the bezel of the ref. 126710l is only available in two colorways: red and blue “Pepsi” or black and blue “Batman.” One feature that didn’t change much when the reference 126710 came to market is the dial, which still features larger “Maxi” hour markers and wider Mercedes-style hands filled with Chromalight lume, although it does feature a small Rolex coronet between the words “Swiss” and “Made” below the 6 o’clock hour marker.
You also have your choice of either the rounded 5-piece link Jubilee or the flat 3-piece link Oyster bracelet, both of which are equipped with Rolex’s innovative Oysterlock clasp. It features a handy Easylink extension system that allows you to increase or decrease the bracelet’s length up to 5mm without tools, a convenient feature to maintain perfect comfort as your wrist fluctuates throughout the day.
Aside from the bezel and bracelet options, another rather exciting upgrade introduced alongside the Rolex GMT-Master II reference 126710 was the movement, the new-generation Caliber 3285. It replaced Cal. 3186 and includes the upgraded skeletonized Chronergy escapement, which is 15% more efficient and boasts an increased 70-hour power reserve.