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Rolex GMT-Master 2 126711BLNR ‘Batman’

History of Rolex Batman

Despite only just nearing a decade old, the Rolex Batman is a classic in many ways. For collectors looking to add one to their own collection, it is reminiscent of earlier Rolex models and gets a lot of things right in its design.

The Batman is highly sought after and makes a choice investment for luxury watch aficionados. But what is a Rolex GMT Batman and what are the factors that go into choosing to buy one?

What is a Rolex Batman?

Like all Rolex watches bearing a nickname – like the Root Beer or the Pepsi – the Batman was never officially bestowed its name from Rolex themselves. ‘Batman’ is purely a creation of fans, and stems from the colours of the black and blue bezel that are similar to those of the titular superhero in his original comic books.

The colour scheme also sees the watch referred to as the Dark Knight (another Batman reference) or the Bruiser, though Batman persists as the more common nickname.

The Batman is a Rolex GMT-Master II first released in 2013, bearing the reference number 116710BLNR. The final letters of the reference highlight the most important visual factor of the watch, BL standing for ‘bleu’ and NR for ‘noir’. This model persisted until 2019, when it was discontinued and replaced by the 126710BLNR.

Both Batman models have identical cases measuring at 40mm in diameter and with 12.5mm thicknesses, and are protected by a sapphire crystal rather than plexiglass. Both watches bear the same bezel as well, though the newer model understandably has a more modern movement.

The older Batman sports a 3186 calibre, whereas the newer Batman has a 3285 calibre. The newer movement is more resistant to shock and magnetism, but also holds a 70 hour power reserve over 50 hours in the original due to a more efficient escapement.

A significant design change from the 116710BLNR to the 126710BLNR lay in the change of bracelet, swapping from the Oyster design to the Jubilee. This swap to the more delicate-looking design prompted some to refer to the 2019 Batman watch as ‘the Batgirl’. However, in 2021, Rolex introduced the option to choose, so a Batman 126710BLNR can be purchased with either Oyster or Jubilee bracelet.

The watch earned positive reviews regardless of gender, so the cheeky nickname generally isn’t considered to be derogatory, and instead just highlights the design difference. This bracelet difference can be an important factor when deciding if you want an older or newer Rolex Batman. The bracelets cannot be switched from one to the other, according to Rolex, due to the specific designs of the watches’ lugs, so this needs to be considered as a permanent choice as far as your watch selection goes.

Though there are some differences in terms of design and movement power, both watches sport the scratch-resistant ceramic bezel in the black and blue colour combination, so either Batman will fetch the same aesthetic quality overall.

Why is the Rolex Batman so popular?

The Batman brought a new dimension to Rolex watch design with its two-colour bezel, and not solely for the colour choice. Firstly, we need to understand Rolex’s approach to making the bezels for its watches.

Rolex’s ceramic bezels are made of a material that the company patents as Cerachrom, and though they are essentially ceramic, they’re made in a slightly more complex way. Cerachrom is named from a combination of the words ‘ceramic’ and ‘chroma’, the Greek word for colour. It subverts issues with older aluminium bezel inserts, which are prone to scratches due to the relative softness of aluminium.

Traditional ceramic counters some of these problems with its high hardness making it resistant to scuffs and scratches, but high hardness also translates to rigidity, making ceramic prone to shattering.

Rolex looks to remedy this with the way that it concocts its Cerachrom material. To begin, zirconium dioxide or aluminium oxide – depending on the desired colours of the bezel – is mixed with pigments and binding agents that hold the mixture together and allow it to be worked.

The mixture is formed into individual pieces which are then fired in stages, first to remove the binding agent and then to fuse, or sinter, the particles and create a cohesive, solid piece. This second firing stage uses temperatures of 1,600 degrees Celsius to achieve the desired Cerachrom hardness and finish.

Final processes are carried out on the pieces to get them to the necessary condition. It should be noted that at this point, the Cerachrom is so hard that diamond tools are needed to machine it. The final pieces are coated, coloured, and polished to make them ready for their designated watch.

Cerachrom was first used in a commercially released watch in 2005, with the release of a GMT-Master II reference 116718LN. This was a yellow gold watch sporting a black bezel in this newly-made material. Two years later, Rolex used Cerachrom in the Yacht-Master II to create a blue bezel with fade and scratch resistance, and the material’s name was officially trademarked.

But how does this relate to the Rolex Batman? The watch was the first to feature a two-tone bezel made in Cerachrom, a milestone that confers extra value as a collectable in its own right. A metal salt-based material is added during production to facilitate the areas where the two colours meet and blend.

The dual-colour bezel is not just for aesthetics, though. The 24-hour scale of the bezel is split between the black and blue; black representing night and blue representing day. This makes it easy to tell at a glance if it’s day or night in the second time zone.

Of course, this doesn’t matter in a functional sense for people who aren’t travelling between time zones, but the practical purpose behind the design that marked a first for Rolex may be greatly appreciated by the right collector.

Additionally, the colour combination and oyster-style bracelet gives the watch a versatile style that helps it pair nicely with practically any clothing choice.

The Batman’s two-colour bezel also represented a return to form for many collectors, as it was reminiscent of the original 1950s models sporting red and blue bezels that earned them the nickname ‘Pepsi’. Though this first model featured a Bakelite bezel, the dual-coloured Cerachrom iteration of the Batman felt familiar for those who appreciated the original GMT-Masters.

Interestingly, the Pepsi’s two-colour bezel served the same function as the Batman’s, representing day and night in the secondary time zone to which the watch is set. The release of the GMT-Master II Batman was followed a year later by another Pepsi, reference 116719BLRO, in white gold. So, in a sense, the Batman marked a new age of dual-colour Cerachrom bezels.

Who wears a Rolex Batman?

Rolex GMT-Masters have a fanbase amongst the rich and famous who have ample cash to spend on luxury watches. Some notable fans of Rolex include Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Will Smith, Jennifer Aniston, and Daniel Craig.

Rolex watches enjoyed some early silver screen exposure through the original GMT-Master being worn in the James Bond movie Goldfinger.

The Rolex Batman in particular has been spotted on the wrists of people like singer-songwriter John Mayer, actor Steve Carell, and tennis player (and Rolex brand ambassador) Roger Federer. Federer was wearing an original Batman on his wrist when receiving his trophy at the 2017 Australian Open Championship.

With Rolex watches a popular fashion choice and statement piece for many celebrities, it’s likely that the Batman models see plenty of wear away from photo opportunities too.

Is a Rolex Batman waterproof?

Rolex GMT-Master II watches are waterproof up to a depth of 100 metres as standard. Some other models, like the Submariner and Sea-Dweller, have much greater waterproofness to reflect their intended usages.

Batman GMTs also feature Rolex’s patented ‘triplock’ screw-down crown with triple waterproofness, giving the wearer and the watch itself an exceptional level of reliability for everyday wearing. The Triplock was released in 1970, making its debut in the Sea-Dweller watch. Its inclusion in a watch means that three sealed zones protect the automatic movement inside.

Though few people will want to risk submerging their Batman underwater to fully test these systems, you can rest assured that small accidents are highly unlikely to spell the end for your timepiece.

How much is a Rolex Batman worth?

Both an original Batman reference 116710BLNR and a 2019 model reference 126710BLNR varies in a fairly consistent margin for its worth, falling somewhere between £15,000 to £25,000 depending on condition, usage, and preserved extras that came with the watch.

It should be noted that a Rolex Batman in great condition can reliably be found for the lower end of this spectrum, and research will serve you well when hunting for a Batman to add to your own collection.

Is a Rolex Batman a good investment?

Like many Rolex watches, particularly those in the GMT-Master II lines, a Batman represents a good investment that will hold its value and appreciate reliably over the years.

The problem with investing in a Rolex Batman is that the waiting list from licensed sellers has reached a lead time of around seven years for this particular watch.

Compounding issues with lacking supplies of Rolex watches against rising demand means that the watches have reached a point where they’re far too valuable to sell to everyday customers. If not buying on the second-hand market, long waiting list times are, for many, the only way to buy oneself in.

So, if any collectors have a Batman model in their collection that has never been worn, it might be worth considering whether the time has come to sell it onward.

Is the GMT-Master II Batman discontinued?

The original Batman was discontinued in 2019, the same year that its modern replacement was introduced. The Rolex 116710BLNR was in production for six years and its own waiting list at the time was a lengthy one, resulting in prices on the second-hand market that exceeded those of retail.

The newer Batman, or ‘Batgirl’, is still in production and subject to a lengthy waiting list. Given the run of its predecessor, the 126710BLNR is likely to see production for several years to come, but only Rolex can know for sure.

Discover Rolex watches with Cheshire Chrono Solutions

Founded from a passion for luxury timepieces and a desire to share knowledge, experience, and value with like-minded buyers, Cheshire Chrono Solutions is your ideal store to purchase, sell, and invest with confidence. Whether you’re looking to source a Rolex GMT Batman or something else, don’t hesitate to contact us today for your next purchase.

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