In the wake of Batman’s return to screens tomorrow, this time with a new entourage of actors, we look back to one of the watch collector favorites: the Rolex GMT.
It’s T-minus two days people until the newest iteration of Batman, or rather The Batman as it’s now called, takes to the screens, starring Robert Pattinson and Zoe Kravitz. The wait has been a long one, but brace yourself for Batman and Catwoman taking over your timelines from here on out as the epic adventure returns once more to Gotham, but this time with a new face. Whether Christian Bale and the Nolanverse will forever be your Batman, or Edward Cullen takes the bait, the launch of the latest DC epic means one thing and one thing only, time to start talking about the Rolex-GMT again.
The cultural watch phenomenon all began with the advent of the Rolex-GMT Master back in the 1950s, and the novel accessibility of commercial flights. With the boom of air travel came the influx of timepieces used to assist aviation, notably the first ever Rolex GMT master, making its debut in 1956. And for the zealots amongst us, they’ll know that this was, in fact, one of James Bond’s watches worn on screen. But why was the Rolex-GMT so integral to flight? It enabled pilots, who were now flying longer distances, to concurrently monitor two different time zones, and the ability to differentiate between the day and night times of the watch’s second time zone.
It seems a little antiquated in the modern age, given that with a few simple taps on our phones we can find out the time in Bora Bora and Amsterdam. But at the time, it was revolutionary, and as such, Rolex over many decades have continued to honor the pioneering heritage of the GMT with new iterations, since it’s initial 6542 iteration. Think of it like the coding for runway shoes, determined by AW or SS and the year. It’s the coding system for working out when and where the watch is from.
So what does R-Patz and his eponymous quiff have to do with all this? Well, the evolution of the GMT meant that over time, models came to be known by cultural monikers, often named after notable visual markers. Take for instance, the Pepsi dial, Ref. 16710, or the Spider Dial, Ref. 16750 released in the 1980’s with a cracked lacquer on the dial, giving the effect of the web (which we’re yet to see either of the Spidermen don actually).
But in 2013, DC fans could rejoice as Rolex released the GMT-Master II ref. 116710BLNR. Jargon aside, the Batman watch. Regarded for the black and blue ceramic bezel around the dial, the color scheme was reflective of the vigilante in its original comic book form. A first for the watchmakers, creating a two-tone bezel in ceramic. Debuting at Baselword – or what I like to refer to as the Met Gala of the watch world – that same year, as the first bi-color ceramic bezel, but it was also the only one available on a stainless steel GMT watch for several years.
While the saying goes, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it, Rolex had other ideas to make Batman fly even higher, and in 2019, the dual-tone model got its first ever upgrade, to a stainless steel Jubilee bracelet and a new motor, meaning Batman can fly for longer, with a power reserved of 70 hours. You’ll notice, should you find yourself soaring through the internet about the model, that the advent of the bracelet change led to a name change too; the ‘Batgirl’ watch given the industry’s dialogue around more detailed watch straps. Despite the gender provocation, the high demand of the model meant long wait lists and sell-outs, making the watch as hard to pin down as Bruce Wayne from the authorities. Rolex might dub it as a ‘watch designed for long distance travel’ but we’re taking cues for the next fancy dress party, save on the mask and wear the watch. For those that know, know.