We haven’t delved too much into the world of vintage watches on the WRB YouTube channel, and while this Rolex GMT Master II ref. 16710 isn’t exactly a very old vintage – I thought it would be an interesting piece to look at.
The second I picked it up I had instant comparisons to the modern Rolex lineup running through my thoughts.
- Wow it’s lighter
- Wow it feels a little cheaper
- This really feels like a tool watch, rather than a glorified luxury Rolex
- I think I mightily prefer my Submariner 114060
Rolex gets a ton of hype, and it’s rare to hear a perspective other than “it’s the best”. But I will tell you that after spending some time with the GMT Master 16710, Rolex’s new modern lineup certainly has improved on past designs. I can appreciate the pure tool watch aesthetic of the ref 16710 but at the same time is feels a little bit bland, this is a comparison where you can really appreciate the subtle but excellent changes of aluminum bezel insert to cerachrome ceramic, larger and easier to read “maxi-dial” markers, and one of the most important changes on modern Rolex models being the solid link bracelets and more robust clasps.
Comparisons aside, if we teleport back to the late 90s and early 2000s the ref 16710 was at the top of its league and pioneering the iconic GMT Master II line from Rolex – back then it was the watch to have, and certainly still is now for those seeking some nostalgia and pure Rolex tool watch DNA.
The blue / red bezel version, aka the Pepsi, has always been the most popular colour combination for the GMT Master II, with it being issued to Pan AM airline crew back in the day – but the black bezel one we have here is the stealth watch of choice for those still wanting the GMT function and not wanting to venture into Submariner territory.
While this one is a beautiful watch I think I’d personally prefer a Submariner from the same era if I had the choice. This is a highly subjective preference as someone who leans more towards simplicity, I prefer the bezel markings and click action, dial text, and heftier crown on for example the ref 16610 Submariner.
One area that the ref. 16710 is impressive is wrist comfort, with a hollow linked bracelet and a slightly slimmed down case and lugs, it’s no mystery that the watch does have a lighter feeling on wrist. Visually I would say it’s on par with the modern Rolex GMT lineup in terms of size, the lugs are a little slimmer but they still remain fairly long.
The movement on this specific reference began as the 3185 and transitioned to the 3186, it has hacking and a 24 hour quickset feature for the 24 hour hand.
I hope you enjoyed this quick run-down of the GMT Master II 16710, an absolutely beautiful watch and all time classic.