|Case||Oyster, 40mm, 904L Oystersteel|
|Crown||Screw down, triple lock Triplock waterproofness system|
|Bezel||Bidirectional rotatable 24 hour graduated, two-colour blue and black Cerachrom insert in ceramic, engraved numerals and graduations|
|Movement||Perpetual, mechanical, self winding GMT function. Calibre 3186|
|Crystal||Scratch resistant sapphire, Cyclops lens over date|
|Waterproofness||Waterproof to 100m / 330 ft|
|Power Reserve||Approximately 48 hours|
|Functions||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.|
|Bracelet||Oyster, flat three-piece links, with folding Oysterlock safety clasp with Rolex Glidelock extension system (5mm)|
In 2013, Rolex launched their first bicolour bezel in ‘Cerachrom’, a patented ceramic material they had introduced to the GMT-Master II for the first time almost 10 years before that. A rugged, scratch and fade resistant material, colouring it at all was difficult enough, but using two colours was an even greater achievement.
Those at Baselworld that year probably assumed, or hoped, or both, that the first bezel with two colours would be a re-release of the famed ‘Pepsi’ or ‘Coke’. However, what we have come to realise and indeed expect of Rolex is, that despite being conservative in so many ways, they are masters of surprise and creating hyperbole surrounding their products.
What Rolex did with the affectionately known Batman was genius and is yet another steel sports watch from the brand that punches well above its weight in horological terms. The build quality is outstanding and you can feel the presence of significant research and development when you handle it. Quite simply, it’s as if it would survive anything you threw at it, and it would tell you the time in three different time zones whilst doing so.
The star of the show is, of course, the contrast of the top half of the bezel in black with the bottom in blue, matching with the second hour hand that allows you to tell the time in another zone of your choice. To add to this, the bezel is bidirectional and, giving it a very satisfying twist resulting in the kind of snick that makes you want to do it over and over again. Moving the bezel allows you to set it to a third time zone, adding to its functionality for those frequently travelling.
The blue really is something. As with other models like the Hulk and Pepsi (released at Baselworld 2018), it somehow changes colour depending on lighting and conditions. Ranging from an eye-popping light blue in the sunshine to a more subdued deep sea when indoors. It also manages to change personality depending on the outfit with which its worn. It is genuinely just as happy poking out from under a shirt cuff as it is at the beach and, perhaps, is even more versatile than its green Submariner sister.
The bracelet is extremely comfortable with the polished centre links providing a lovely contrast and only adding to its versatility. The deployment clasp is solid and secure and incorporates a mechanism allowing for micro adjustments without removing a link; the perfect way to ensure a good fit.
Some have criticised Rolex for continuing to use the cyclops lens, suggesting they should instead adopt a similar solution to the Royal Oak Offshore and have the magnification inside the watch, not protruding from the sapphire crystal. My view is it is not only now iconic, it provides an additional interesting feature to the watch, something else for light to reflect off and an angle to appreciate.
Five years on from its launch, the Rolex Batman is still just a vaunted as it was then. In fact, it may be the ultimate clandestine steel stunner from Rolex, combining just enough of a colour twist from the standard GMT-Master II to make it different, without being too obvious about it, as with the Pepsi or Hulk. Whichever way you look at the Batman, it’s a beautiful piece and one that, once again deserves its place as an icon of design and quality.
The Rolex GMT-Master II, reference 116710 BLNR, retails for £6,850, if you can get one through a dealer. Some are quoting 2-4 year waiting lists, whilst many have closed them. Otherwise if you want this now iconic watch, you’ll have to bite the bullet and pay up to 30% extra on the secondary market.