Rolex SA is the leading luxury watch manufacturer in the world producing over 2,000 watches per day that generate sales of over $7 billion dollars each year. Bob’s Watches is the World’s First and only Pre-Owned Rolex Exchange where consumers can buy, sell, and trade used Rolex watches at true fair market value. Follow to read the latest news, reviews, trends, and stories on Rolex watches.
Last week we hosted a special dinner at our Newport Beach headquarters for a few close friends and well-known watch collectors. There was no guest speaker, nor were there any watches for sale. Instead, this Collectors Dinner was just an evening for some friends and fellow enthusiasts to get together, eat some great food, look at some amazing watches, and enjoy the best company we could have possibly imagined.
The Bob's Watches Collectors Dinner - YouTube
The Bob’s Watches Collectors Dinner
With a private chef cooking up a three-course meal and ample drinks to go around, the intimate group of guests spent the evening laughing, swapping watch collecting stories, and reminiscing about times when you could pick up a vintage Rolex Daytona for only a few thousand dollars.
While the guest list was small, attendees included everyone from Eric Wind of Wind Vintage to Michael Morgan of Iconic Watch Company and well-known Southern California collector, Morgan King. Even Enzo, the friendly ‘Goldendoodle’ that belongs to Bob’s Watches CEO, Paul Altieri made an appearance to pick up any stray bits of food that might have been missed during dinner.
Following the meal, Morgan King surprised everyone by whipping out a couple decks of cards and doing some astonishingly good magic tricks with them (it turns out that he is a member of the Magic Castle in Hollywood). We all know Morgan for his love of watches, but his interest in magic along with the hilarious performance that he puts on while he pretends to stumble through mind-blowing card tricks was something new to all of us.
Although the Bob’s Watches Collectors Dinner was all about enjoying each other’s company, the watches that could be spotted that evening are certainly worth a second glance. From a Paul Newman Daytona, to a ref. 5517 MilSub and a 2915-1 Speedmaster with an absurdly tropical dial, every single watch at the Collectors Dinner was one worth mentioning.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so here is the official photo recap of the first ever Bob’s Watches Collectors Dinner.
Although the Tudor brand has been around since the 1920s, the company is enjoying a robust revival after its “re-launch” in 2007, and its reintroduction into the American market in 2013. No doubt it’s the Tudor Black Bay that garners the most attention these days; however the Tudor Heritage collection was also central to the brand’s renaissance. As the name implies, the Heritage lineup includes modern reinterpretations of vintage Tudor watches, and here we take a look at three of them.
Tudor Heritage Advisor
In 1957, Tudor launched its very first alarm watch in the form of the Tudor Advisor 7926 with a 34mm Oyster case that was equipped with two winding crowns – one at 2 o’clock to operate the alarm, and another at 4 o’clock for time setting. It ran on a manually-wound Adolph Schild 1475 movement, and Tudor produced the Advisor 7926 until 1968.
In 2011, Tudor introduced the contemporary version of its first alarm reference with the Tudor Heritage Advisor 79620T. Naturally, Tudor redesigned the watch to suit modern sensibilities, and opted for a generously sized, 42mm titanium and steel case, fitted with an automatic movement. While there are different dial colors and bracelet options, this particular Heritage Advisor 79620T includes a matching steel bracelet and a silver dial. On that dial we see the ON/OFF alarm indicator at 9, the alarm power reserve at 3, and a date sub-dial at 6, all shielded by a domed sapphire crystal.
Tudor Heritage Ranger
During the 1960s, Tudor released the Oyster Prince Ranger with a 34mm waterproof Oyster case, a matte black dial, and an Explorer-style dial with the characteristic Arabic numerals at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. The dial had plenty of luminous accents, the case housed an automatic movement, and the Oyster-style steel bracelet included a Rolex signed clasp. Tudor continued to manufacture the Oyster Prince Ranger until 1988.
Fast-forward to 2014, and Tudor presented a faithful rendition of the vintage Oyster Prince Ranger with the Heritage Ranger 79910. The Tudor Heritage Ranger sports a 41mm steel case water resistant to 150 meters. Housed inside the case is the familiar black dial with the trio of Arabic numerals. It’s worth mentioning that to stay true to the vintage version, Tudor chose to have the hour markers on the modern Heritage Ranger painted rather than going with applied indices. Even the hands retain the same shape as the original Ranger watch.
As indicated by the “Self-Winding” text on the dial (yet another nod to the first Ranger reference) the Heritage Ranger 79910 runs on an automatic movement with a 38-hour power reserve.
Tudor Heritage Chronograph
In 1970, Tudor presented its first chronograph collection that went by the name Oysterdate 7031 and ran on a manually-wound Valjoux movement (much like vintage Rolex Daytona watches). It was equipped with a large (for the era) 39mm steel case, fitted with a pair of screw-down chronograph pushers flanking the winding crown.
There was a choice of a steel bezel or a black Plexiglass bezel – both featuring a tachymeter scale. The dials of the 1970’s Oysterdate chronographs were particularly distinct, with a multitude of colors, two sub-dials, a date window at 6 o’clock (along with a Cyclops magnification lens), and unusual pentagon-shaped hour markers.
In 2010, Tudor unveiled the Heritage Chronograph 70330N watch, which at first glance looks remarkably similar to the original reference. While the steel case has grown to 42mm and the black aluminum bezel now features a 12-hour scale rather than a tachymeter one, the dial design is almost identical 40 years later, complete with the “home plate” five-sided hour markers. The date window remains at 6 o’clock, but Tudor did forgo the magnifier lens on the sapphire crystal. Unlike its vintage counterpart, the contemporary Heritage Chrono 70330N runs on an automatic movement.
It’s clear that these three Tudor Heritage watches are heavily inspired by their vintage counterparts. Revival pieces are a tried and tested approach in the watch world, and when they’re done right, they are a great way to introduce younger watch enthusiasts to important references from a brand’s archives.
It’s interesting to see how much flack some brands have taken over new collections in the last couple of years. The Piaget Polo S and AP’s Code 1159 are the first that spring to mind, and though to a lesser degree the Vacheron Constantin Fiftysix was more or less in the same boat. It seems that every time a brand from the upper echelon of watchmaking decides to make something more approachable, they get pushed under the bus. Accused of “cheaping out”, or diluting the brand, I can’t help but laugh every time one of these situations presents itself, because this is the same very vocal crowd that moans and groans that luxury watches from these same houses are too expensive. Seems to me, some are simply never satisfied, right?
Despite being the entry point into Vacheron’s catalog, the Fiftysix is anything but entry-level.(Image: Vacheron Constantin)
While I didn’t care for every single detail about the Vacheron Constantin Fiftysix when it launched (I found the dials of the original three hand versions a little flat), I certainly wasn’t incensed or outraged by Vacheron delivering a new entry-level collection, especially considering its design is quite well aligned with the aesthetic principles that echo through the rest of the brand’s collections. The stubby-lugged 40mm cases fit very comfortably on the wrist, and are elaborately faceted and beveled in a way that draws in the eye without seeming overly busy.
With a jumping off point of $11,600 for a 3-hand and date watch, the standards have to be kept quite high, and when the opportunity came up to spend some extended time with the latest blue-dialed variant of the Fiftysix, I couldn’t say no. I’d done the same with the Polo S, finding myself surprisingly impressed with its execution (regardless of vague similarities to the Patek Aquanaut and Nautilus), and I was curious to see what sort of impression the Vacheron Constantin Fiftysix would leave after some time on the wrist compared to my initial thoughts having seen it during brief presentations.
Vacheron has added a blue version to the Fiftysix lineup for 2019. (Image: Vacheron Constantin)
All About The Details
As I noted in my intro, there is a lot of detail on the case of the Vacheron Constantin Fiftysix – so much, that I found myself noticing different things the more time I spent wearing it. Little details like the way little corners of its case protrude from underneath its bezel between its lugs, or how the slender bevel on its right lugs broadens to become the profile of its crown guards (for example) weren’t things that jumped out at me at first glance. I also didn’t initially notice that its crown is somewhat oversized considering its case dimensions. Though it tucks away nicely behind the aforementioned crown guards and has quite subtle ribbing, it was consistently easy to grip and operate as needed.
In this configuration, Vacheron addressed one of the minor gripes I had with the initial 3-hand version – its date window. Granted, they at least ensured that the font of its date disc matches the indices on the dial (something that doesn’t happen nearly often enough), but the contrast created by its white date disc beneath an opaline or silver dial just felt a little unfinished. With the blue dial variant, VC opted for a blue date disc, making its date indication much more subtle without impacting legibility.
The blue version matches the calendar disc to the color of the dial for a refined yet subtle touch. (Image: Vacheron Constantin)
On Wrist Comfort
There are some pluses and minuses to the Vacheron Constantin Fiftysix when you first strap it on. The profile of its case hugs the wrist very nicely, however its stock strap is very stiff when first strapped on, and when paired with its deployant clasp, it’s not the most comfortable watch out there. As you break in its alligator leather strap, it will definitely soften and become more comfortable, so don’t let that throw you. Given my collection of aftermarket straps, I often opted to swap the Fiftysix onto other options, which worked out quite well.
Unlike more conventional dress watches, the Fiftysix is surprisingly suited to casual wear with an assortment of straps. This is a great benefit for this kind of watch – with Vacheron wanting to capture a new and younger demographic, it is imperative that the watch be versatile and well-rounded for frequent wear. After all, the more a new VC owner finds himself wearing/loving his/her new watch, the more likely he is to think of the brand again when preparing to make his/her next purchase.
Although it is the entry-level offering in Vacheron’s lineup, the Fiftysix is just as well-finished as its more expensive siblings. (Image: Vacheron Constantin)
All told, The Vacheron Constantin Fiftysix collection isn’t going to create a monumental shift in sales for VC, nor is it going to instantly become as highly desired and coveted as things like the Nautilus, Daytona, or Submariner. That said, this watch moves the price of entry down several thousand dollars when compared to things like the Overseas, and its design has mass-market appeal that should at least draw in some new clientele. At a personal level, the complete calendar is still the favorite when compared to the three hand model, but this guy is a solid effort at the very least.
Priced significantly less than the Overseas collection, the Fiftysix is the least expensive way into Vacheron ownership. (Image: Vacheron Constantin)
The late legendary watch designer, Gérald Genta had plenty of hits to his name: the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, the Patek Philippe Nautilus, and the Cartier Pasha – just to name a few. But did you know that he had a hand in designing a Rolex watch too? The Rolex King Midas to be exact, and in true Genta form, this is far from your traditional, run-of-the-mill design. Let’s find out more about the rare Rolex watch that both Elvis and John Wayne once owned.
The Rolex King Midas
In 1964, Rolex introduced the heaviest gold watch on the market – aptly named after Greek mythology’s King Midas, who was famous for his ability to turn everything he touched into gold. Featuring a manually-wound movement and an unconventional silhouette comprised of an asymmetrical case with a thick integrated bracelet, the King Midas watch was carved from a single block of 18k yellow or white gold and weighed between 150 and 200 grams.
In addition to being the heaviest gold watch of its day, it was also the most expensive Rolex of its time. Just in case one might forget the name of the watch, the words “King” and “Midas” are engraved on the side of the case, flanking the saw-toothed winding crown.
The design of the Rolex King Midas draws its inspiration from the Parthenon temple of Athena in Greece. If you place the watch on its side with the winding crown facing up, you will see the triangular tip resembles the temple roof, while the thick bracelet grooves represent the columns. Taking design cues from objects was a signature Gérald Genta approach, as later seen in the Royal Oak (inspired by a diving helmet) and the Nautilus (inspired by a porthole on a ship).
Yet another uncommon trait of the King Midas is that it was produced as a limited edition model (unusual for Rolex), complete with engraved numbers on the back of the bracelet. The first King Midas model, the ref. 9630, was limited to 1,000 pieces, followed by the ref. 3580 in the 1970s, which was also produced in a limited series.
In contrast to the unusual case and bracelet, the dial of the Rolex King Midas is relatively classic and simple in design. At the center of the small square dial is the pair of hour and minute hands, accompanied by the Rolex crown and Greek letters spelling out the “MIDAS” name. Surprisingly for a watch from this era, the dial is protected by a sapphire crystal rather than one made from acrylic.
A Midas for A King, A Duke, and A Villain
The King Midas may not be a famous Rolex watch today, but some legendary men wore it decades ago. The most famous of them all was the King of Rock & Roll, Elvis Presley. The watch (No. 343 ) was given to Elvis after performing six shows at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in 1970. Today, that exact Rolex King Midas sits on display at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee.
Additionally, Actor John Wayne also owned a Rolex King Midas (No. 557), which was sold in 2011 during the “The Personal Property of John Wayne” auction. Back then, the Duke’s Rolex sold for $26,290, which was well over three times its pre-sale estimate.
The Rolex Midas even made an appearance in a James Bond movie. During the 1974 film, The Man with the Golden Gun, the watch can be spotted on the wrist of Francisco Scaramanga – a villain played by Christopher Lee. However, it is important to point out that his Midas was a later model that belonged to the Cellini collection, rather than one of the original, limited-edition Rolex King Midas timepieces.
There is no doubt that the King Midas watch is an anomaly in Rolex’s lineup – it is astonishingly different from the other watches made by the Crown. However, that is precisely what makes the Rolex King Midas so intriguing. Designed by a watch industry legend and worn by at least two legendary entertainers, the mysterious King Midas watch story is one worth telling.
Remember a few years ago, when everyone was saying the invention of the smartwatch was going to do away with conventional timepieces altogether? Before that, the actual smartphone itself was on the brink of doing the same thing. And if you were around in the 70s and old enough to be paying attention, it was quartz that was going to nail down the coffin lid on all things Swiss and traditional (which in all fairness, it almost did).
My point is that high-end mechanical watches have weathered every storm that has blown their way over the years. And not just weathered them, but continued to thrive until we have the situation today, where the industry has rarely been in ruder health.
Far from succumbing to each technological fad, impressive though they are, the soullessness of electronics has only served to rekindle an appreciation for the artistry and passion of a painstakingly created caliber and a beautifully crafted exterior. The market for mechanical watches, both new and pre-owned, is now vast, and an increasing number of people seem to be discovering the joys of collecting on a daily basis. For the newcomer, a dip of the toe into this new world of luxury watches can quickly become an overwhelming experience. There is enough information out there to fill several libraries, and just finding a place to start is daunting enough.
Buying your first watch will always be a completely personal choice, but in an effort to help you make sense of some of the most important points, we have tried to distill all that knowledge into easily digested chunks. So, read on below for our tips on how to get started and purchase your first watch.
Let’s get this one out of the way first. In horology, there is always a more expensive option. There is always a costlier material for the case, or the dial and bezel could be given the gemstone treatment. Two very similar looking watches from two different brands could have two extremely dissimilar price tags, and the reasons may be all down to the name on the dial and not much else.
The best advice (which I wish someone had given me many years and countless spousal arguments ago) is to be honest with yourself on your budget and be disciplined enough to stick to it.
We have all fallen prey to watch envy at one time or another – seen a friend or colleague with just the ideal example on their wrist. Without keeping a good handle on your emotions, it will lead you to overstretch yourself financially. It can be a particularly tricky thing to do – buying a luxury watch is, of course, all about emotion. But if I can’t act as an inspiration to others, at least let me be a warning; set yourself a realistic upper limit and don’t go beyond it.
Go Modern or Vintage?
The modern versus vintage debate is one that takes up significant bandwidth across multiple blog platforms and forums, and it is filled with so much minutiae on both sides that there isn’t enough room to go into it all here. My personal opinion? For your very first watch – especially if it is a mechanical one, I would recommend going modern.
Think of it as buying your first car. Yes, there is a lot to be said for retro cool, but there is a lot more to be said for something that starts first time on a snowy morning and keeps running till you reach where you’re going. A vintage watch takes more looking after than a modern one, and you need a certain amount of experience to know what that sort of looking after entails. A modern piece isn’t maintenance free by any means, but you can expect it to be much easier to live with on a daily basis.
As an aside, note I’ve said modern rather than new. You can often get a lot more watch for your money buying a recently released model on the pre-owned market than you can wandering into a certified dealer and buying the box fresh version – but more on that later.
Here’s where we start getting into the guts of the thing. There are a slew of different watch styles, of every conceivable design and with a whole range of functions – what you will see called complications.
Technically, anything beyond three hands that tell you the time is a complication. So, it can range from something as workaday as a date display, all the way up to the hyper complexity end where you will find things like tourbillons, moonphases, perpetual calendars, and minute repeaters.
What you want out of your first watch is up to you (obviously), but you don’t have to be put off by titles. If you like the look of the group listed as dive watches, it doesn’t matter if you don’t dive. (No one else who wears luxury dive watches does either, if we’re being honest). Similarly, you’re still allowed a chronograph regardless of whether you compete in the Le Mans 24hr or not. Both those types, and many more, serve other purposes – even if that purpose is nothing more than to look good on your wrist.
One question to ask yourself that can help in nailing down which style you want to get is, how many watches do you think you will buy overall? Is this the start of a whole new thing for you, or are you just after one serious watch to see you through every situation? If it’s the former, it opens up a much broader choice. The latter, and you are going to want to go for something with a touch more aesthetic versatility – you need a piece that can be worn with a wider array of outfits without looking out of place. For that t-shirt to tuxedo flexibility, it can pay to look at the more simple, classically-styled offerings and avoid anything too brash or in-your-face.
Type of Metal?
This is part of the style section, but it is such a vital consideration it deserves a segment to itself. The type of metal you choose makes a big statement. A solid yellow gold watch says one thing, the same model in steel says something completely different. Rose gold, white gold, platinum, they all have their own qualities and the perceptions of others linked to them.
Beyond that is the question of expense. You would think, and in most cases be right, that a gold watch would cost more than a steel one. However, it is by no means always true. Yes, if you buy a brand new steel Rolex sports model at an Authorized Dealer, it will retail for less than its gold equivalent. But, you can’t buy a brand new steel Rolex sports model at an authorized dealer (without waiting out an extremely long waitlist) because Rolex doesn’t produce enough watches to meet demand.
Keeping the supply artificially low has seen the price of steel examples of pieces such as the Daytona skyrocket on secondary market. Now we are at the point where the Rolesor models (half steel/half gold) are significantly cheaper. In fact, pre-owned steel Daytonas are now roughly the same price as brand new solid gold ones. Exclusivity plays (at least) as big a factor in the cost of luxury watches as the sum of their parts.
Where to Buy Your First Watch?
As we said above, buying brand new from an official retailer is not the only option when it comes to acquiring your first watch. The main advantage in visiting a store is the whole hands-on experience. If you have only ever seen your dream watch on a computer screen, there is no way you can get an accurate sense of what it will look like when you are wearing it. Therefore, going to a physical brick and mortar outlet and trying it on lets you see if it is a good fit size-wise, or if you need to be looking at something a bit bigger or smaller for your wrist.
But authorized dealers are generally hard places to get yourself a bargain. Many manufacturers will not allow anything in the way of discounts on their products, and for that reason, buying your watch on the pre-owned market is something to seriously consider. A brand-new timepiece, like anything, will (in most instances) depreciate as soon as its first owner takes possession. So a pre-owned example – one that has already been through that initial price dip – will generally have a lower asking price.
I say “in most instances” because, as we’ve already seen, certain pre-owned models are now selling for far more than their official retail prices simply because it is virtually impossible to get hold of a new one. As an example, a stainless steel Rolex GMT-Master II retails for $9,250, direct from Rolex. I’ll save you a trip to your local dealers – you won’t be getting one there. The brand has been keeping supply so restricted that many retailers are not even adding new customer names to the waiting list because it is just getting too long. So, if you want to buy that particular watch, the pre-owned market is your only option – as is paying an average of about $20,000 for it.
Now, are all used/pre-owned watch dealers created equal? Absolutely not! This is now an industry worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year. That kind of money – in whatever industry – attracts its fair share of vagabonds and ne’er-do-wells, and none more so than with pre-owned watches. It is no real hyperbole anymore to say that choosing the right seller is just as important as choosing the right watch.
Highly advanced technologies are creating evermore convincing fakes, and it takes expert specialists to be able to identify the genuine from the counterfeit. It is vital that you only give your money to retailers with an established reputation and iron-clad authenticity guarantees. I cannot stress enough how important it is to make sure you do your homework wile researching the purchase of your first watch, as it will help you avoid some seriously costly mistakes.
Those are some of the main points to think about before committing yourself to the initial step in your watch buying journey. If you already have the ideal first watch in mind, all to the good, but if you are still deciding, make sure to take your time. You can’t really over-do on research – this is, after all, something that could well stay with you for the rest of your life.
On April 28, 2019, businessman and intrepid explorer, Victor Vescovo, successfully broke the record for the world’s deepest dive by taking the Limiting Factor submersible down Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench to a depth of 10,928 meters (32,853 feet). Along for the historic dive were three never-before-seen Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep watches.
If this story sounds familiar, you may be thinking about Rolex’s ties to James Cameron’s 10,908-meter dive in 2012, or Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard’s 10,916-meter dive in 1960 – both record-setting expeditions occurring in the Challenger Deep and both equipped with experimental Rolex watches. But records are made to be broken, and on June 20, 2019 Omega unveiled the Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep concept watch during a press event in London, which now sits ahead of Rolex in the deepest dive saga.
The Five Deeps Expedition
Self-funded and ambitious, Vescovo didn’t just dive into the Mariana trench once, but he and his team completed four dives to the bottom of the Challenger Deep in ten days. What’s more, as impressive as this feat is, it is actually just one-fifth of the Five Deeps Expedition – the world’s first manned expedition to the deepest point in each of the five oceans.
With the Atlantic Ocean, Southern Ocean, Indian Ocean, and Pacific Ocean missions now complete, all that’s left is the Arctic Ocean dive, slated to take place in September 2019. Vescovo was on hand during the Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep unveiling event at the British Museum, and commended Omega for its “ability to create a full ocean timepiece that’s not only super tough, but slim, light and stylish.”
Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep
Not one, but three Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep watches accompanied Vescovo’s Challenger Deep dive; two fitted on the submersible’s robotic arm and another on the Lander data-gathering unit.
Dimensions-wise, the 52.2mm diameter and 28mm thick Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep is quite obviously a mammoth sized watch. But when you’re tasked to plunge 11km into the ocean, that’s relatively restrained – the watch is actually rated to 15,000 meters. For context, the Rolex Deepsea Challenge watch strapped to James Cameron’s submersible measured 51.4mm and 28.5mm thick. Remember, these watches are not made for human arms; they were destined to be fixed to underwater vessels and subjected to bone crushing pressure.
To keep things light, the case of the Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep is constructed from grade 5 titanium. But for added interest, Omega did not just purchase off-the-shelf titanium but actually used cutoffs from the Limiting Factor’s hull, complete with international maritime authority DNV-GL stamps. The open shape of the “manta lugs” is not only an intriguing design element, but it serves to offset further stress to the case under already extreme pressure.
Attached to those lugs are blue polyamide straps with Velcro closures, similar to the straps used during the Apollo missions. Matching the blue strap are the blue details on the dial, including the 3/6/9/12 numerals and the ULTRA DEEP name. Also on the dial are the familiar Omega Broad-Arrow hands and lumed-filled trapezoid hour markers.
In true Omega fashion, the laser-engraved caseback of the watch flaunts the Ultra Deep’s accomplishments and specs: the expedition logo inside concentric circles meant to mimic Multi-Beam sonar technology, DNV-GL certification, 15,000-meter rating, anti-magnetic, Master Caliber 8192, and more.
What’s Next In The Watchmakers’ Race To The Bottom?
Rivalries are always good for commerce and consumers, regardless of the industry. Intense competition typically paves the way for better products in a bid to get a bigger piece of the pie. And in the watch industry, there’s no rivalry as enjoyable to watch as Rolex vs. Omega.
Both top-tier Swiss watchmakers are often found playing in the same sandbox, whether it’s sports sponsorships, celebrity ambassadors, supporting extreme exploration, or making luxurious but tough timepieces.
Of the two brands, Omega was the first to launch purposefully built watches for marine life and diving with the Marine (1932) followed by the Seamaster (1948) and the Seamaster 300 (1957). Yet, while Rolex launched its dive watch a little later in 1953, it’s no secret that the Submariner has dominated the luxury dive watch market for decades, supported by its bigger brothers the Sea-Dweller and the Deepsea.
Through the official press release, Omega stated that the Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep used “materials and technology that could be commercialized” and that the “Ultra Deep technology is destined to surface again in the very near future.“ That’s a not so subtle way of saying that the Ultra Deep will soon move from concept model to production-ready dive watch.
For the last several years, Rolex has shown up to Baselworld and unveiled a new stainless steel sports watch that quickly becomes the most desirable (and unattainable) timepiece on the planet. This year, the hot new watch that had everyone running to their nearest authorized retailer was the updated “Batman” GMT-Master II reference 126710BLNR – now with a Jubilee bracelet. However, the black and blue Batman GMT is not a totally new watch, having first made an appearance in the Rolex catalog (as the ref. 116710BLNR) back in 2013. So, what exactly is new on the updated ref. 126710 Batman GMT-Master II?
Rolex Batman Faceoff: GMT-Master II 116710 vs. 126710 - YouTube
The most obvious update to accompany the new ref. 126710 Batman GMT-Master II is its new Jubilee bracelet. While the previous ref. 116710 GMT-Master II featured a stainless steel Oyster bracelet, the new version is exclusively offered with a Jubilee. Additionally as of 2019, no Oyster bracelet option exists for stainless steel GMT-Master II watches; both the Batman and Pepsi versions are now only sold with Jubilee bracelets.
Although the bracelet is significantly different on the new ref. 126710 Batman GMT-Master II, the clasps fitted to the two bracelets are virtually identical. Both bracelets receive Rolex’s Oysterlock safety clasp, which features Rolex’s Easylink comfort extension system that allows users to quickly increase (or decrease) the circumference of their bracelet by 5mm.
While the previous ref. 116710 Batman GMT-Master II was powered by Rolex’s Caliber 3186 movement, the new ref. 126710 receives the Caliber 3285 – Rolex’s latest generation of in-house GMT movement that is based upon their new and improved Chronergy escapement.
Although Rolex guarantees the same timekeeping performance for the two movements (+/- 2 seconds per day), the increased efficiency provided by the Chronergy escapement allows the Caliber 3285 to have a power reserve of 70 hours – a noticeable improvement over the 50-hour power reserve offered by the Caliber 3186. Beyond a lengthier reserve, the Caliber 3285 also benefits from the use of Rolex’s Paraflex shock absorbers, which provide its oscillator with a greater degree of impact resistance.
Although the case of the new ref. 126710 Batman GMT-Master II may seem identical to the previous generation, Rolex has actually slightly re-shaped its lugs for a slightly more refined appearance. Still measuring 40mm in diameter, the changes to the case are minimal and would likely go unnoticed by all but the most observant – especially without having a ref. 116710 Batman GMT-Master II on hand for a side-by-side comparison.
While slightly different than the case found on the ref. 116710BLNR, the re-designed case on the new Batman GMT-Master II is the exact same as the one used on the ceramic Pepsi GMT-Master II that debuted the previous year. Still classifiable as a “super case” by all definitions of that term, the re-designed case of the new GMT-Master II remains noticeably thicker than the cases used on older GMT-Master references with aluminum bezels.
Aesthetically, the dial fitted to the new ref. 126710BLNR is virtually identical to the one found in the previous generation of Batman GMT-Master II watches. However, the dial signature below the 6 o’clock location has been slightly updated on the new version. On the new ref. 126710 Batman GMT-Master II, Rolex has added a small coronet insignia (the Rolex logo) between the words “Swiss” and “Made” that appear just below the 6 o’clock hour marker.
Beyond this minor signature update, the two dials are otherwise completely identical. Both are considered “maxi dials” with larger hour markers, and both are finished with Rolex’s proprietary Chromalight luminescent material, which provides them with a long-lasting blue glow.
Despite being only a slightly updated version of the previous Batman GMT-Master II, the new ref. 126710BLNR was easily the hottest watch from Baselworld 2019 and sparked lengthy waitlists at dealers the morning that it was announced. While the most significant update comes in the form of the new Caliber 3285 movement, the Jubilee bracelet fitted to the new ref. 126710BLNR provides the watch with a significantly different overall look and feel – despite the relatively minor nature of the rest of the updates.
Rolex Batman GMT-Master II 116710 vs. 126710
Overall, the biggest differences between ref. 116710 and ref. 126710 Batman GMT-Master II watches are the movements and bracelets fitted to them. While the updated ref. 126710BLNR does offer an increased power reserve over its predecessor, the different aesthetic provided by the Jubilee bracelet is arguably a more important factor to consider when buying a Batman GMT.
In the end, both Batman GMT-Master II watches will keep time to within 2 seconds per day, and both versions represent some of the most desirable and sought-after timepieces on this planet. Our advice? Buy the Batman you like best!
In the discussion of modern Rolex sports watches, the term “super case” can come up when describing specific models. But what exactly is a Rolex super case and how does it differ from other Rolex watch cases? Read on to find out all the details.
Rolex Introduced the Super Case On the GMT-Master II in 2005
In 2005, Rolex introduced a brand new GMT-Master II watch in the form of the yellow gold GMT-Master II ref. 116718. This new-generation of GMT brought about a whole host of changes to Rolex’s iconic pilot’s watch collection. Some of these changes included Rolex’s first Cerachrom ceramic bezel, Rolex’s first GMT “maxi dial” with larger hour markers and broader Mercedes-style hands, and Rolex’s first “super case.”
Although the case size of the then-new GMT-Master II ref. 116718 measured 40mm like its predecessors, the case silhouette was much broader thanks to fatter lugs, a wider bezel, and a thicker overall profile. Therefore, this type of case is referred to as the Rolex “super case” to differentiate it from older Oyster Professional cases that have the same diameter measurement but a less bulky build.
Soon after the launch of the yellow gold version of the new GMT-Master II, Rolex introduced other material options such as the two-tone GMT-Master II ref. 116713, the white gold GMT-Master II ref. 116719, and the stainless steel GMT-Master II ref. 116710. Regardless of the different materials used in their construction, all of these models sport the Rolex super case.
Rolex Rolled Out the Super Case To The Submariner in 2008
In 2008, Rolex presented the newest generation of their Submariner dive watch. There were two models initially released, both gold: the white gold Submariner ref. 116619 and the yellow gold Submariner ref. 116618.
Yet again, these two watches retained the official 40mm case size of older Submariner references. However, just like the new GMT-Master II models, the new Submariner watches featured beefier super cases – along with Cerachrom ceramic bezels and maxi dials. The following year, the two-tone Submariner ref. 116613 joined the catalog, followed by the stainless steel Submariner ref. 116610 a year later.
Rolex Super Case vs. Rolex Classic Case
Rolex’s approach to the super case design was a way for the company to answer the trend for larger men’s watches without having to increase the official measurements over that 40mm size the brand favors so much.
If you hold a GMT-Master II (or Submariner) with a classic case next to a GMT-Master II (or Submariner) with a super case, the differences are immediately evident. As expected, there are those who love the new modern design of the super case, while others prefer the more restrained and traditional form of the classic case.
Which one do you prefer? Classic or Super? Leave us your thoughts in the comment section below.
LVMH, the French-based luxury goods powerhouse whose watch portfolio includes Hublot, Zenith, TAG Heuer, and Bulgari, has announced plans to stage its very own watch show in Dubai next year. However, this is not a replacement for the increasingly beleaguered Baselworld – yet.
LVMH plans to host their own watch fair in Dubai – but not as a replacement for Baselworld. (Image: Zenith)
LVMH Watches in Dubai
In April, the company announced that it would participate in Baselworld in 2020, while simultaneously stating that “for 2021 and the following years, Baselworld is collaborating with the Group and its brands on new presentation concepts and formats.” Baselworld Managing Director, Michel Loris Melikoff said that “Baselworld will support each LVMH brand in the design of innovative exhibition formats for their presence in 2021 and beyond. The purpose of these new formats is to let each house express its creativity and provide an outstanding brand immersion.”
LVMH’s watch brands will continue to exhibit at Baselworld and are developing new presentation concepts and formats. (Image: TAG Heuer)
Dubai seems to be the first step in the process, and LVMH is leveraging its other luxury holdings to make it a success. The event will take place at the Dubai Bulgari Hotel in January 2020. Though details are scarce, the company says it will introduce its “watchmaking news for 2020.” This would of course not only scoop Baselworld, which is taking place April 30 – May 5, but the rest of the watch world, which isn’t accustomed to revealing its designs that early in the calendar.
The move comes on the heels of Jean-Claude Biver stepping down as President of LVMH’s Watch Division last fall. His replacement is Stephane Bianchi, the former CEO of the cosmetics firm Yves Rocher and not a natural choice to run major watch brands.
It was simply not possible for LVMH to go 13 months without a global presentation of their products. (Image: Hublot)
No Plans to Leave Baselworld
“We remain very supportive and loyal to Baselworld and the Swiss watchmaking industry,” Bianchi said in a statement. “However, it was not possible for us to go 13 months without a global presentation of our products and brands,” a reference to the later scheduling of Baselworld in 2020.
“This additional event further confirms the LVMH commitment to the strategic and profitable watch category. In between Geneva in January and Basel in March, we have had in recent years two major product presentations in the first quarter,” Jean-Christophe Babin, President of the Bulgari Group, added. “This early discovery of our strategies, news and novelties has allowed our media and retail partners to better plan the year ahead and as such we have decided on this setup for 2020 to balance the scheduling of the other events.”
This event in Dubai further confirms the LVMH commitment to the profitable watch category. (Image: Bulgari)
It’s hardly news that the Rolex Daytona is one of the most valuable watch models out there. But when it comes to value, no two Daytona’s are alike. Much like any watch, there are a variety of factors that go into determining what one is worth – model, year of production, condition, uniqueness, and provenance. But when it comes to the Daytona in particular, it can be difficult to assess value if you don’t know what to look for. Because as you’ll see, there’s quite a difference between a $25k Rolex Daytona and one worth ten times that.
Generation of Rolex Daytona
Over the decades, the Rolex Daytona has existed in three distinct generations. The first generation, which debuted in 1963, contains a number of different manually-wound references, including those fitted with the now-famous ‘Paul Newman’ dials. During these early years, the Daytona still wasn’t mainstream, but Newman’s seal of approval helped usher in a new era. The second generation debuted over two decades later in 1988, and is defined by its self-winding movement and sapphire crystal. Finally, there’s the third series, which began at the start of the millennium in 2000 and boasted (at long last) an in-house Rolex movement.
When looking at the 6239 and the 16528, the generation defines a huge portion of the value. The ref. 6239 isn’t just a Paul Newman Daytona – which makes it incredibly rare and elusive – it’s from the very early years of the Daytona’s history, which adds even more value. But while the 16528 is from the early years of the second generation, it has yet to reach that true ‘vintage’ status. So although the 16528 is certainly highly collectible because it is one of the Zenith Daytona references, it lies in this limbo between not quite modern and not quite decidedly vintage.
Place in History
The impact that a watch has made on the industry and history as a whole greatly influences its market value. The Rolex Daytona is one of those rare watches that did both, becoming an industry icon and cultural phenomenon. So when we look at the two watches before us today, the 6239 and 16528, it’s clear that one has a more prominent place in the Daytona’s history.
The ref. 6239 isn’t just from the first generation, it is from the formative years that ushered in a new era of watchmaking and style. The ref. 16528, on the other hand, is still an absolute icon; however the second generation of Daytona watches doesn’t hold quite as high of a place in the history books as the first. However, its limited production run of just over 12 years has helped the second generation of Zenith Daytona watches reach near cult-status amongst collectors – and that’s what has helped propel its value north of $25k.
The Ever-Important Details
As a collector or watch admirer, you know it’s all about the details. So when it comes to our Paul Newman Daytona and the second generation 16528 Daytona, this is where the vast majority of the tangible value is derived from.
If you look at these Daytona’s with a totally untrained eye, you might assume that the 18k yellow gold 16528 might be worth more. However, while the condition of this watch is excellent and the entire thing is constructed from solid 18k yellow gold, it is not as rare or iconic as the stainless steel ref. 6239 Daytona with the ultra-desirable ‘Paul Newman’ dial.
The ref. 6239 Daytona boasts the ‘Paul Newman dial’ or the ‘exotic dial’ that’s characterized by a face that features contrasting colors for it registers and an Art Deco style font. And even though Paul Newman made this watch popular, this particularly bold dial was initially hard to sell, and very few were made. Additionally, many owners at the time requested that their dials be replaced with standard Rolex Daytona dials, and so the once undesirable ‘exotic dials’ have now become the prized ‘Paul Newman dials’ that are so fiercely sought-after by collectors.
When evaluating a timepiece, having an exceptional provenance can greatly add to the value; however this is always the intangible and slightly subjective part. A seller might expect to receive somewhere in the neighborhood of $250,000 for a normal Paul Newman Daytona (depending on the reference), but Paul Newman’s very own ‘Paul Newman’ Daytona fetched $17.8 Million when it was auctioned off a couple years ago. Like anything, an exceptional provenance needs to be able to be verified; however it has the potential to add serious value to any watch.
Moral of the story?
What’s interesting here is that when it comes down to it, value can seem quite arbitrary and driven by matters of the heart rather than of the mind. The ref. 16528 could be considered a better watch on most accounts – it has an improved movement, larger case, sapphire crystal, and solid 18k gold construction. But, it’s the older, once-undesirable (and still contentious) Paul Newman Daytona that reigns king today.
That three-color ‘Newman’ dial makes this watch – which is otherwise identical to all the other ref. 6239’s – worth astronomically more in price. Arguably, other ref. 6239’s from the same important generation hold the same critical place in history, but it’s the key detail of the ‘Paul Newman’ dial that sets this example apart in value. I think it’s safe to say then that value, in fact, is in the details.