The Rolex GMT-Master II Steel & Yellow Gold 126713GRNR, And Why I Fell For It
I shouldn't like this watch... But I actually do.
Of course, there were some more important new models presented by Rolex at Watches and Wonders 2023. The updated Daytona, moving to a 12xxxx generation, the titanium Yacht-Master 42 or a new dress watch, the convincing Perpetual 1908. Nevertheless, a pair of new models – to make it clear, colour and material updates on an existing watch – managed to get quite some traction. I’m talking about new yellow gold-equipped GMT-Master II watches, and specifically the Steel and Yellow Gold (call it two-tone or yellow Rolesor) reference 126713GRNR. At first, this watch should be everything I don’t like… But life is sometimes surprising.
Above: the 116713LN and 116718LN, models discontinued circa 2019, equipped with yellow gold case/bracelet, or yellow Rolesor case/bracelet – images by www.watchclub.com
Before I go up close and personal with the 126713GRNR (reference numbers are going more and more complex at Rolex…) we first need to recap the facts, and look at this new two-tone steel and yellow gold GMT-Master II for what it is. First of all, next to the full yellow gold version (reference 126718GRNR), this new model marks the return of yellow gold in the collection. Indeed, since the discontinuation of the solid yellow gold models – 116718LN green or black dial – and the two-tone yellow Rolesor – 116713LN – a few years ago, your only option for precious metal GMTs were Everose (solid or matched with steel), or white gold. And, also important, they all come on an Oyster bracelet.
These two new models feel actually very much like no-brainers, like unsurprising, totally expected models. Why? Because it feels natural to have Yellow Rolesor or solid yellow gold models in the collection. The watches you assume exist… but actually didn’t, at least for some years (from 2019 to 2023). So what’s the deal in 2023? Well, first of all, yellow gold, as a stand-alone material or combined with steel, returns to the Rolex GMT collection. Second, there’s a new two-tone bezel, in an unprecedented colour combination. Third, there’s a Jubilee bracelet in precious metal on the GMT, which is not only new but also hot. Last, I hate to say it, but they look very attractive. And I believe that it’s quite a general consensus here.
Today, I’ve decided to specifically look at the GMT-Master II Steel and Yellow Gold 126713GRNR. Why? First of all, while being a highly attractive watch, the full gold model is very flashy indeed and retails for almost 40k euros. Not very “wide audience” watch material. Second, the two-tone version has made yet another impression on me. It’s rather interesting to look at how tastes and trends evolve. Two-tone watches used to have a rather negative image in the past, but they’ve moved from “poor man’s” options (understand, I want gold but can’t afford the solid gold one) to “cool man’s” options recently. So, here’s my choice. Even I have a hard time explaining why… It’s everything I shouldn’t like.
Back to basics. This new Steel and Yellow Gold Rolex GMT is nothing more than a visual update. Case; the same Oystersteel middle case as before, measuring a typical Rolex 40mm diameter, a relatively thin 11.90mm height (it’s still a sports watch with a rotating bezel and 100m water-resistance after all), and a still acceptable 48mm length. Dimensions, shapes, and finishes are all identical to a Pepsi or a Batgirl, with now a solid 18k yellow gold Triplock screw-down crown and notched bezel. The other novelty comes from the new ceramic insert, in an unprecedented combination of black and mid-grey (GRis NoiR). And I must that this muted, discreet combination pairs brilliantly with the warm tone of YG. As if Rolex wanted to keep the attention only on the gold accents, whether on the case, bracelet, bezel or dial. The rest is all discreet, subtle. This new insert is almost like a graduation on black. And I think it works even better next to the steel parts of this Rolesor edition.
As for the dial, it’s pretty straightforward too. No evolution to be noted in the design, it’s all about the colours and materials. As you’d expect, the black lacquered base is glossy, with applied hour markers and hands that match the case – thus, made of 18k yellow gold. And Rolex has also been slightly restrained when it comes to touches of colour. No flashy green or red accents on the GMT hand and GMT-Master II mention, just the same tone of gold as the rest of the dial. Tasteful and elegant, with just the dosage of bling you want in a gold or two-tone watch.
Importantly, this new GMT-Master II two-tone 126713GRNR, as well as the full yellow gold model, marks the first appearance of the Jubilee bracelet on precious metal GMT watches. It was only reserved for the steel Pepsi, Batgirl and Destro versions up until now. It means a 5-link, slightly vintage bracelet with polished 18k gold central links and brushed steel external links. Clasp; classic Oysterlock folding safety clasp with Easylink comfort extension link. Comfort; classic Jubilee, supple, soft and flexible. And the look is just as good as it gets (if you love Rolex and this style, of course).
Mechanically, no evolution either here. The new Rolesor GMT-Master II comes equipped with the Calibre 3285, an in-house automatic movement with Superlative Chronometer certification – meaning COSC certification and internal Rolex testing after casing, with -2/+2 seconds/day accuracy range. It features all of the brand’s latest innovations, including the Chronergy escapement, the Parachrom hairspring and paramagnetic nickel-phosphorus pallet fork and escape wheel, with a comfortable 70h power reserve. And like all watches from the range, it’s a flyer/traveller’s GMT watch, with an independently adjustable local hour hand, by one-hour increments.
So, why did I fall for this new 126713GRNR…? Besides the obvious quality of the watch, there’s something that goes down, as simple as it is, to feelings. For a rather inexplicable, or at least tangible reason, this new model created emotions in me. I used to own a GMT-Master II in the past (a reference 116710LN to be precise) and I’ve always loved the functionality and overall robustness of the watch, but blamed a certain lack of warmth and fun. It felt too technical, too cold. While I do believe that most professional Rolex watches should be steel, due to their own purposeful nature, the GMT-Master II is the one watch in the range that can use some bling, some colours, and some precious materials… Keep in mind that the Rolex GMT has never been a pilot’s watch in the military sense of the concept. It has always been a civilian watch, for travelling up in the sky.
All in all, and I’m fully aware that I’m being subjective here, I do believe this 126713GRNR is the new coolest GMT. And yes, you can tell me that I’m wrong in the comments below and list what version you prefer, because in the end, it’s all about personal tastes.
The Rolex GMT-Master II Steel and Yellow Gold 126713GRNR is now released and “available” from retailers (relatively speaking, even if the situation seems to have recently improved a bit) at a price of EUR 16,300, CHF 15,700 or USD 16,450. More details at rolex.com.